It’s The Unseen vs. Unhinged!
Classic early 80s bizarr-o horror! Unhinged isn’t a formulaic teen slasher with a masked killer. It’s more like a backwoods family horror film that takes cues from Psycho and Homicidal. It even predates themes from Sleepaway Camp by a year, although it’s a lot less…um…balsy.
Three girls are headed to a music festival when their car crashes. When they wake up, they’re in an isolated mansion, having been rescued by Marion, the woman who lives there. One of the girls is badly hurt, rainstorms have made travel impossible, and the house has no working phone. Uh-oh….
We soon meet Marion’s aging mother, who spends each meal trashing men. Like, this old broad hates men. She accuses Marion regularly of sneaking men into the house for sex—which anyone would be able to tell could never happen just by looking at maidenly Marion.
This is not a body count movie—you could count the kills on one hand (but the blood count is great). It’s also a major slow burner. But the eerie, way too dark lighting (in a good 80s VHS way), chilling 80s synthesizer music, and pervy breathing echoing through the house as someone spies on the girls through a hole in the wall make this one worth the watch.
The chase scene between the final girl and the killer is a goody, as is the (cliché by today’s standards) reveal in the attic at the end. Although, that reveal makes the family dynamics absolutely nonsensical, particularly the idea that the mother doesn’t even know what she gave birth to….
THE UNSEEN (1980)
Ah. Barbara Bach. Why don’t they make exotic, intriguing looking scream queens like Barbara anymore?
In The Unseen, she’s a reporter who leaves behind her injured football player boyfriend (80s TV dreamboat Douglas Barr of The Fall Guy and Designing Woman) and heads off with her two girlfriends to cover a fair in a small town.
When it turns out all hotels are booked, a nice and fucking creepy museum owner (classic character actor Syndey Lassick) offers to let them stay in a room in his big house with his wife (Lelia Goldoni, another fantastic, longtime character actress).
He’s weird, she’s a nervous wreck, and there are weird sounds coming from the vents in the girls’ bedroom…so two of the girls leave the other alone while they head to the fair.
The Unseen has it all—except for blood. There are a couple of vent grate kills, a family corpse (that talks), incest, and a big inbred man in diapers living in the basement, played fantastically by Stephen Furst, who’s just as good in his brief intro to the movie at the beginning of the DVD. Stephen rules.
While the film is kind of slow with only two kills, there’s a nice long stretch of Barbara Bach in action once she gets locked in the basement and sees the Unseen. But even the crazy confrontations that ensue are tame and don’t live up to the intensity of today’s horror standards.
And finally, we once again get a weird plot hole. The husband is all secretive and manic about bringing the girls home because the wife is strongly, frightfully against it, yet both she and the husband are shocked when the Unseen kills the guests! WTF? The movie seems to imply that they are bringing the girls home purposely to give to the Unseen! When you keep a deformed, mentally underdeveloped man in the basement, isn’t the whole point of bringing pretty girls home so that you can feed them to him or give them to him as sex toys?