New on Blu: One of the best low-budget Lovecraft adaptations
The Unnamable was written, directed, and produced by Jean-Paul Ouellette. His name isn’t well known, but he was previously the second unit director of The Terminator — an indication of his affinity for shooting action and effects.
The tale concerns a ghoulish monster, cursed to remain locked within the walls of a long-abandoned house, its legend still whispered among the denizens of the area, so many years later. Among them are Randolph Carter, a descendant of that very house, who studies the arcane knowledge of his family, and his friends Howard and Joel — the latter of whom decides to explore the old house against his friends’ warnings.
Coincidentally, some other students at Miskatonic University also venture to the house — a pair of predatory frat bros lure two pretty coeds, friends of our protagonists, to the site for a late night spook.
Of course, what these characters will all discover is that The Unnamable horror within the house is still very much alive and ready to tear up some college students.
One of the more unusual aspects of The Unnamable as a Lovecraft adaptation is that the tone is fairly light. There’s a fair amount of banter between characters, and Randolph and Howard have a classic Holmes and Watson sort of dynamic: the aloof, acerbic genius and his more practical and agreeable sidekick.
While the film can be pretty atmospheric at times, much of the tone is frittered away by a musical score that comes off as playful and quirky instead of instilling any sort of dread (think of some of the more comedic Full Moon movies and you’ll have the right idea).
The film is not particularly scary but has enjoyable characters and a solid sense of adventure, not to mention a memorable creature with a bizarre design. The film even spawned a 1993 sequel with the same leads and an upgraded supporting cast with the likes of John Rhys-Davies, David Warner, and… Julie Strain as the monster (a prospect which I’m not sure how to feel about).
The Unnamable is now available on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films and MVD. It’s notably Spine #1 in the new Unearthed Classics line, and the first 2000 copies of the Blu-ray will come with a limited edition slipcover featuring Thai poster artwork by Tongdee Panumas.
The disc is restored from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, and features 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound; considering its low budget origins this means it looks and sounds better than ever. Unfortunately the disc lacks subtitles.
Special Features and Extras
In addition to an audio commentary, the disc includes several long-form interviews conducted by Jay Kay of Horror Happens Radio, over 4 hours in total.
The presentation of the interviews is an unusual one — the interviews are conducted over Skype or similar telemeetings, and both feeds are framed into the screen. It’s a setup that makes sense though, especially considering the lower quality of webcam video.
- Audio Commentary with Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Stephenson, Laura Albert, Eben Ham, Camille Calvet, R. Christopher Biggs
- Interview with actors Charles Klausmeyer & Mark Kinsey Stephenson (78:33)
- Interview with actor Eben Ham (30:55)
- Interview with actress Laura Albert (46:16)
- Interview with actor Mark Parra (33:36)
- Interviews with R. Christopher Biggs special makeup effects artist & make-up artist Camille Calvet (60:03)
for Unearthed titles Flowers (1:39), Francesca (1:42), Mecanix (2:18), Nightwish (1:38), Song of Solomon (1:24), and When Black Birds Fly (3:39)
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.