Body count: 5
Oh, that face. Look at that face.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting so many people to like this movie, but it turned out there was much discussion after last night's show about the legitimately impressive performances from all three members of THE UNSEEN's psychotic family. I agree; though I spent the whole introduction yakking about Stephen Furst's masterful performance as Junior, both Sydney Lassick and Lelia Goldoni deserve some credit for pulling off some major drama in a minor movie.
...was a seemingly one-trick pony character actor who was actually able to reach beyond his high-pitched whiny nebbish traits and play some downright compelling roles. Though he's most easily recognizable as volunteer inmate Charley in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, his skills were all over the place for decades, as everything from a corrupt pet shop owner in ALLIGATOR to an employee of transvestite David Carradine in SONNY BOY. But his part in THE UNSEEN has got to be his most unleashed assault of the acting profession. Especially the (pretty damn long) segment where he relives his sexual war with his father, as he has a one-man argument opposite the old man's rotted corpse. The facial expressions Lassick pulls out in this scene are enough to render this new-fangled CGI bullshit obsolete. Not what is commonly referred to as a nuanced performance, but who wants that anyway?
...is pretty goddamn incredible as the anguished sister/wife/mother. Her talent becomes a little less of a shock when considering she was initially one of the stock players for John Cassavetes in his early directing days. She still works, though THE UNSEEN was unfortunately indicative of the state of her career at the time, playing low bit roles on TV and often going uncredited altogether. Apparently she's never even watched THE UNSEEN, which brings me to the unfortunate shame that seems to just about emanate from the film...
Both director Danny Steinmann and closet co-writer Stan Winston (R.I.P.) were unhappy with the final product and opted to go uncredited. The film was credited as being directed by "Peter Foleg," which is a really weird fake name to adopt, if you ask me. But greater than the Foleg mystery is: Why was Steinmann so down on THE UNSEEN? It's unlikely that any imperfections in the film would have sullied his reputation as a filmmaker...I mean, this is the same guy who had a pregnant teenage girl thrown off an overpass into freeway traffic in SAVAGE STREETS just a couple years later. And I honestly think THE UNSEEN is worlds better than his stanky FRIDAY THE 13th PART 5, which is arguably the first film to put a dent in the franchise.
I'd also like to give credit to the makers of THE UNSEEN for setting a dark, gruesome, incest-laced horror film in the Dutch kitsch tourist community of Solvang, California. A truly wack move that makes the movie all the more unique. If you're ever driving by that city, I insist you turn in. There's a huge Pea Soup castle and really good pizza and all the women have pigtails and funny shoes and many of the men wear liederhosen.
PS: Speaking of Stan Winston: he died last month after a lifetime of creating incredible effects for some of the most enduring horror and science fiction films ever made. We had already scheduled his directorial debut PUMPKINHEAD to play as July 24th's Terror Thursday, so now it's unfortunately a memorial screening. So bring your favorite flesh-ripping beastopoid and pay tribute to a lost master of false violence!