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— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

THE UNNAMABLE I & II (1988 & 1992) Dir. Jean-Paul Ouelette. Written by Jean-Paul Ouelette based on Stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Starring: Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles King, Laura Albert, John Rhys-Davies, David Warner, and Julie Strain.

From the depths of HELL.

With Dan O’Bannon’s The Resurrected recently treated to a Blu-Ray special edition by Scream Factory, we can only hope The Unnameable films aren’t far behind. It’s hard to gauge how much of my own love for these films is rooted in nostalgia from seeing them upon release and how much is genuine enthusiasm for genre elements executed . . . well, semi-competently. I make the Resurrected connection for several reasons; namely, they all look like they were shot for Showtime in the early 90’s; soft focus, threadbare production design, and questionable acting. Besides the lacking visuals, there the obvious connection - they are all bastardized versions of Lovecraft stories. In the case of the Unnamable, the main character of Randolph Carter and his telling the story of the Unnamable remain similar to the Lovecraft tale though what progresses from there is more in the vein of a slasher film than anything Lovecraft ever penned. Opening with the story of a monster borne of a Puritan family, locked up for centuries in the attic of a house, we are quickly brought into the modern world of 1988 where Randolph Carter regals fellow Miskatonic students, Joel and Howard with the tale. Joel immediately challenges them to stay the night in the house and when no one accepts his challenge, decides to go it alone. With Joel missing, and a pair of Frat bros and their dates deciding to investigate the house, Randolph and Howard end up coming to the rescue more than a tad too late. It’s a fun movie, with a quick pace and enough light gore to keep horror fans invested and while the Unnamable is not revealed in full until the climax, I have always felt it was an original and interesting monster design deserving of more recognition.

The sequel, while released five years later, picks up on the same night the original film ends, provides a more original good time than the first, and manages to include the entirety of Lovecraft’s ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ within its first half before branching off into a kind of pseudo quantum physics riff on Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with a very naked Maria Ford (Slumber Party Massacre III, Necronomicon: The Book of the Dead, Deathstalker IV) wandering around the frames of the 2nd act and the infamous Julie Strain pulling equally naked monster duty. The makeup and effects are slightly better in this entry, Mark Kinsey Stephenson is solid again as Randolph Carter, lending the whole affair a believable New England University nerd vibe. Most surprising of all is the appearance of John Rhys Davies as Professor Warren, the English department’s folklore specialist with a more than passing knowledge of esoteric rituals and quantum physics and David Warner as the Chancellor of Miskatonic. I highly recommend watching both of these films as a double feature as they are really like one film and totally consistent in atmosphere and tone. Unfortunately, the director of both films, Jean-Paul Ouelette appears to have directed only one other film, the Bruce Lee ripoff Chinatown Connection with Lee impersonator Bruce Ly, Lee Majors Jr., and Brinke Stevens starring, but that’s another review altogether.

 

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