Over the years, there have been many memorable monsters that have appeared on the big screen that run the gamut from those that come in human form like Dracula to extraterrestrial creatures like the Xenomorphs in Alien. For every great monster though, there is also one that can only be called awful like the bird from The Giant Claw or the exceedingly ridiculous alien brain from The Brain. When it comes to Alyda Winthrop who is the monster in this film, she just so happens to be one of the former – a frightening creature come to life and the literal stuff of nightmares. Factor in the screaming she does throughout and the slow build-up to her reveal and she is definitely a monster that few would have a hard time forgetting about.
Based upon the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft, The Unnamable is a horror film about regret, about folly and about a daughter born a monster. It begins as a many a horror film do, setting it up with a death for what is to follow later on and from there it descends into a somewhat average, teenage horror movie or at least it is made to seem that way, but director Jean-Paul Ouellette does not rest on his laurels and transforms it into a film packed with tension, suspense and more than a little blood. Things progress almost leisurely at first, building up the horror as it goes with mentions of the creature and little glimpses until it all culminates into one exceedingly frightening showdown at the end of the film between those that are still alive and Alyda. Watching this movie, one would have to guess that at some point, Alyda Winthrop was not all demon, that at one time she had a bit of humanity in her. It would explain why she let her father live so long, at least until she killed him, and that moment towards the conclusion of it all when she was being restrained by the trees and she could hear her father’s voice almost admonishing her for giving up the fight between her different halves. When she is attacking Howard, as bestial as she is, it almost looks as if she wants to hold back though if so, it was only momentary. With a headless corpse and a corpse-less head and various eviscerations among other things, the film does not lack for those looking for more than just atmosphere, though the movie does rely upon it heavily and to good effect as well.
The performances are on point, Mark Kinsey Stephenson leading the pack as Randolph Carter, the man who loves telling stories and wants nothing to do with the house he knows so much about. In the end, he saves the day by reading from the Necronomicon of all things so that Tanya as played by Alexandra Durrell and Howard as portrayed by Charles Klausmeyer can escape relatively unscathed. While the film was supposedly made with a fairly low budget, it never looked it in the slightest, everything about it painting a very moody portrait, one about a horror simmering through the years and finally coming to the surface after the actions of some fool-hardy kids.
The Unnamable is an extremely solid entry into the horror genre and one of the better monster movies of the 1980’s, so much so that a sequel, whether needed or not, would follow years later.
4 out of 5