Sunday, February 21, 2010

'80s Trash: The Unseen

Does Barbara Bach make anything better?  After watching Jaguar Lives, The Big Alligator River & The Black Belly of the Tarantula, I can say this: usually.  Even so, her starring role in this 1980 horror film does not make the film good.  Don't get me wrong- the movie has promise.  It has decent characters, pretty good production values and a great set-up for the events.  Where the movie falters is when it explains the reasons for these events and you feel really insulted.  The movie is actually quite good in the build-up too, which is a shame.  It many ways, it is like The Last Broadcast, which just screws everything up with its stupid, final reveal.  This film, however, does this about thirty minutes before the finale, making it all the worse in many ways.  The pacing is also very curious, as you will soon find out.  The real shame is that this movie has a decent directorial name behind it: Danny Steinmann, the man behind Savage Streets and Friday the 13th, Part 5.  Not the best resume, but he did what he could.  Anyhow, this is...

The film begins in a city and cuts to a man working out.  His lady (Bach) gets upset at him for no clear reason and leaves.  Hey guys, want to explain that?  Okay, just get back to me in like 45 minutes.  Anyhow, our heroine is going over with two other women to film a German festival in a small town in California.  Unfortunately, their reservations were lost and they have no place to go- damn you, Priceline!  Negotiate your Hell!  After stopping at numerous places, they stumble across an empty hotel...only to find out that it is really a museum.   Swing and a miss, ladies!  The man agrees, however, to call around for places for them to say.  One awkward jump cut later, he says that they are all booked, save for one place outside of town.  Guess who owns that place, people.  They don't hang around the place too long and instead opt to go film the festival.  Meanwhile, a mysterious something wanders around under the floorboards.  Oh and the guy from earlier shows up.  Maybe you could finally explain all of this now...
As it turns out, the man used to be a pro football player, but hurt his leg- hence the scar we saw earlier.  Bach is upset with him because all he wants to do is get back into the sport.  Wow, that was...anti-climactic.  Fortunately, they spice this up by having one of the women attacked by a mysterious...something.  It chokes her in pretty quick succession and drags the body through a grate.  After all of her talk, Bach's character instantly forgives the man for his actions and they go to dinner.  While all of this happens, her other companion is killed by a hand through a grate.  Hey guys, you know what pacing is?  We learn that the man who owns the place and his older wife about hiding the bodies and keeping the secret.  What secret, you ask?  Just wait.  A bit later, the Bach's character gets to the place and is confused about the absence of her friends.  It is covered by the man with the crap explanation of them 'going out for a while.'  He lures her down to the basement to help him with an errand, but actually locks her down there with the killer.  Are you ready for the big reveal?  Okay then.
That's right- it's "Sloth" from The Goonies.  UPDATE: The man that Co-Wrote the Film did actually make the Sloth make-up later, so...yeah, nailed it.  All of that was building up to this, huh?  On top of that, the movie just sort of drags at this point, where it should get- you know- interesting.  The 'child' is that of the older couple, who are actually brother and sister.  This does explain the five minute scene where the man has an audio flashback to a confrontation with his father and kills him.  Incidentally, an audio flashback- how lazy are you guys?!?  The killer just sort of wanders around, looks at her and touches her.  What happened to the sudden, dramatic killer from the rest of the movie?  Did you just replace him with a giant version of Trigg?  Hey, I want to cash in while the controversy is still ripe.  So yeah, the killer mutant guy turns on his dad, gets stabbed and lays there, while the father chases our constantly-wet and crying heroine.  Her attempt at hiding in the chicken coop does not work, but her boyfriend is there to save the day.  Oops, he just blew his knee out while running two feet.  Great- you failed to save the girl and you can't walk...dumb-ass.  After all of this build-up, the wife just shoots the man and the movie ends.

Wow, what a waste of potential here.  I mean, this could have been a lot of things.  They could have a demon dog, a minotaur or even those dumb-ass monsters from Alone in the Dark.  Instead, we get giant, inbred man who does not kill our heroine, although he does pointlessly-kill her friends.  Did they just offend him or something?  Even the dad seems confused by this turn of events, yelling at the kid to kill her.  To make matters worse, there is not the obvious pay-off.  The dad kills the big doofus off and still finds time to beat up his wife and terrorize Bach.  Aside from the abuse, what does the wife have has a reason for vengeance.  Clearly, she had no problem with the incest, since she was still with the guy.  Hell, she served as a maid for him, showing loyalty to him in spite of everything.  She just up and kills him when he lays out his own son.  In summary, the kid killing people = alright.  The dad killing the kid = worthy of death.  Whatever, movie.  Come back when you get something better.
Next up, a killer cop series comes to end in a bloody, burning fashion.  If you want to talk about not ruining an ending, check out this insanity.  Stay tuned...


  1. I thought this one was supposed to be one of those late 80s gems? Am I thinking about THE HIDDEN?

  2. I'm not familiar with that movie, but there is a 1987 film starring Klye MacLachlan with that name. It sounds interesting, but I don't know if that's what you're thinking of.