This past weekend was really wonderful after the past several weeks of rush, rush, rush. I managed to have three packed weekends in a row and a really tight rehearsal period and it really drained me (as you could tell from yesterday's post), but I was slightly rejuvanated by a weekend spent at home with nothing planned aside from some light cooking and a lot of quality time with my cats (who've been feeling ignored and neglected lately). In my convelescence I also managed to do a hefty amount of catching up in my Netflix instant queue which I hadn't watched anything from in several weeks. One of the films I watched was one I added last summer while I was bored and seeking some sort of diversion. It was a horror film (because for some reason I like watching horror films in the summer) and based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, so I figured it couldn't possibly be bad. Was I right? Let's think of some choice words to give to this story which is uncanny, UNreal, and UNusual...it is The Unnamable.
The film begins in the late 18th century in the Winthrop house and something within it is screaming and banging at the walls of its confines. Joshua Winthrop, the owner of the house, rushes through the poorly lit corridors of the house before unlocking a heavily locked door. He begins talking to the creature inside to calm it down but it then kills him. Flashing forward to the present, we are introduced to Randolph Carter and two of his university buddies, Howard and Joel, as he regales them with ghost stories. Randolph points out that they are sitting in the graveyard surrounding the haunted house of his tales (which happens to be within the limits of observation). The story that Randolph had been telling them was of Joshua Winthrop and the creature which killed him. The creature was seen only once and due to it's horrifying nature, it was called "unnamable". Joel then comes up with the idea to stay there over night. Randolph and Howard go back to the university, leaving Joel to it. Soon a group of students unrelated to the first group decide to go there. Two are young lads fresh from the university football team, Bruce Weeks and John Babcock, and the other two are a couple of girls that they want to score with. One, Wendy Barnes, is a girl whom Howard is in love with it and the other is Tanya Heller, who secretly loves Howard. They go there and get set up in a room to tell each other ghost stories. Meanwhile Howard chases after Randolph to tell him that Joel never came back from the house, prompting Randolph to swing into action. The creature, which has already killed Joel, begins stalking the four youngsters in the house, planning to kill them as she killed her father and Joel. Will Howard and Randolph be able to save them, or will the 'unnamable' creature kill them all?
There's something about The Unnamable that really makes it genuinely creepy and effective as a horror film. With the atmosphere and gore effects it employs, I think it could easily be remembered as a true 'monster in the house' classic. Unfortunately, because it was made by the very low-rent Vidmark, everything else about it is cheap, cheap, cheap. The 'old dark house' is a laughably obvious plywood set, the actors are terrible (with the exception of Howard and 'maybe' Randolph), the script is full of holes (even for a horror film) and the music is terrible. Somehow, The Unnamable still managed to scare me despite these huge shortcomings...which I suppose is a testiment to either it's director or it's cinematographer. They are so effective at not showing the creature until the very end of the picture that a real sense of dread is created by the deaths and the happenings....what is it? Where is it? What can it do? It's almost like the shark in Jaws and really does stand as proof that less is more. I would never recommend The Unnamable as a film that someone should watch...but I'd be lying if the creature hadn't haunted my nightmares that evening.