Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: The Unnamable (1988)

When you talk horror, there are certain names that instantly come to mind. There are your Stephen Kings and R.L. Stines, but everyone knows the master of horror was (and still is) H.P. Lovecraft. Hell, there is an entire sub-genre built around his style of horror. That's impressive, to say the very least. And, as many authors out there can attest, if you end up famous as writer then you will undoubtedly have your work turned into a film (or films) at some point. Lovecraft's work is no different in that regard. Sadly, since At the Mountains of Madness hasn't been made yet, I can't talk about it. Hollywood needs to get with the program and just let Guillermo del Toro do whatever he wants while they toss money at him.

Your move, rich executives who will never read this.

But, since I don't have that to talk about I instead have chosen to give you a double dose of Lovercraft in the form of two of my personal favourite horror films which, despite the title, actually do both have names. The Unnamable and its sequel were both loosely based on the short story of the same name in which Lovecraft's own alter ego, Randolph Carter, faces off against an evil presence with his friend, surviving a bit worse for wear in the aftermath. That's an important thing to remember, that this is a loose adaptation of that story. Because when you're making a movie based on a short story, you end up having to flesh things out. It's also going to be important to note that this takes place in the 80s, thus it does have some modern elements to it. Keeping that all in mind, let's get down to business.

No, not to defeat the Huns! Get out of here, Shang! Shoo!
Our film opens in the past as we observe an old man, Joshua Winthrop, tucking in his horrifying daughter so she doesn't get loose and go do horrible things to the townsfolk. But she doesn't seem too keen on being locked in her attic room and screeches about it until he lets her out. He tries to calm her nicely enough but she's not having it. She's an independent demon woman and she's going to live her life how she sees fit! Yes, get right to the heart of the problem!

WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, NOT WHAT I MEANT!
After she has a heart-to-hand with her father, some guys show up the next day and bury him. The holy guy in charge says to lock the house and that no living soul should ever darken its halls ever again. Of course, you know that the exact oppositte is going to happen, because if it didn't then this would be a very boring movie. We fast forward to the modern day where Randolph Carter, a brilliant young student, tells the tale to his two friends. One eats it up while the other calls it bullshit. Guess which one dies? "Dead man walking" tries to goad the other two into going in to the house to investigate, but Carter declines due to an overabundance of common sense clouding his judgment. Howard, the younger friend, follows Carter, as he's not really the "explore demonically inhabited houses" type. They get back to the school and we see them interact with a girl named Wendy. She doesn't really like Howard as she finds him creepy, even though he actually hasn't done anything bad except for being awkward. Personally I find that being awkward tends to be my method of flirting. Yep, I'm still single.

Not surprisingly, so is Howard. Chin up, sport, I'm sure you'll meet nice girl.
Meanwhile, their buddy Joel has been wandering the house and has managed not to get himself killed yet. He observes that it is old, dusty, and rather creaky. I myself observed that he was pretty stupid for a supposedly very smart person, as I am no genius and I can tell you that wandering into old abandoned houses is a bad idea. He also observes that Carter was actually right and that there is indeed a cloven hoofed creature with horns and wings that lives there. She decides to introduce herself in an appropriate manner that says that she's open to trying new things and embracing things about new people.

Like theirs hands, their face, their guts...you know, basic stuff.
So, he's dead and we find his living friends in the library at school the next discussing him. Howard is owrried about Joel and wants to go check on him, but Carter believes Joel is trying to cause them worry intentionally, as Joel was clearly shown to be that kind of a dick friend earlier in the film. We then get introduced to Wendy's friend, Tanya, who thinks Howard is rather cute and wonders why Wendy is such an unrepentant bitch towards him. Of course, it's not fair to just call her that because she finds him unappealing. Maybe she really has a good reason? Nope, she literally says he's beneath them because he's a freshman. Wendy can go fuck herself. Two young preppy jock types then show up, almost as if her attitude towards the idea of dating a freshman was a mating call, and they end up convincing the girls to go to the house with them. They claim it's something to do with getting them into a sorority, but we all know they just want to get laid.

Good news, you boys will see a naked woman. The bad news is she's probably going to murder you.
So, after the first moron dies while trying to hook up with Wendy, things go South pretty quickly and Tanya heads for the door while her friend is off hiding somewhere where she hopes the creature can't smell the scent of bitch. Howard and Carter show up and scare Tanya, but after reviving her she's happy to see them. Carter explores downstairs and finds a copy of the Necronomicon and begins  reading from it. Meanwhile, Howard and Tanya go looking for the other moron and the worst friend ever, Wendy. We see moron #2 get his head smashed in and Tanya ends up locked in a room separate from Howard. He eventually finds Wendy, who believes he killed the first moron because clearly she's worth killing some one over and she ends up getting killed by the creature. Carter finds his reading very interesting and uses what he's learning to enter the tomb outside and perform a ritual to seal the evil away.

Maybe while he's down there he'll also ask someone for their autograph.
While he's doing that, Howard finds his way to Tanya just in time to face off against the creature. Of course, being Howard, this doesn't go well. Luckily, the power of the Lorax descends upon them and the trees come to the rescue, pulling the creature into the ground and prompting them to get the hell out. On the way off the property they run into Carter clawing his way out of the tunnels he's been in, and we close on Tanya giving Howard a kiss. Now, you might say to yourself, "Is that it? What about the creature? Is it dead? What about the dead kids in the house? Why didn't we get more of Carter?" and I would answer all of those questions with one simple answer: read the next review where I delve into The Unnamable Returns and finally give you my verdict on both films. See you then, bleeders.

You mean there's more of this? Oh no...

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