Beneath It All… – The Unseen (1980)

Starring Barbara Bach, Sydney Lassick and Stephen Furst, The Unseen is a film that is not particularly frightening as much as it is disturbing. It concerns a newswoman and her two friends who are heading out to report on a festival, only to find that there are no hotels available when they arrive. Thankfully, there is a man at a local museum who offers up a room at his house where they can stay, to which they accept and it is not long after that, that their troubles really begin. After one girl is dragged to her death into a floor vent, another is choked to death. Soon only Bach remains and not only does she have to deal with that which lives in the basement, but with Ernest, the man who invited her into his home as well.

For the most part, The Unseen is a fairly enjoyable movie, but it does take a while to get going, the first hour being slightly dull. It is plainly evident after a point, specifically when the girls meet Ernest Keller, just where this picture is heading as he is far too weird to be just a nice guy. There are a couple of bright spots to be found within, the first when Ernest’s mania is revealed, of his history and the revelation that his wife is actually his sister. The second is Bach, former Bond girl and the lead of the film who is the main reason that anybody at the time of the picture’s release went to see it in the first place. Eventually, things manage to pick up when the first two women are killed off and Ernest traps Bach’s character Jennifer in the basement of the house to be taken care of by the creature he calls his son.

Played by Furst, Ernest’s son is inbred and mentally handicapped due to being the offspring of brother and sister. The giant man-child might have killed the two women, but there is a good chance he never knew what he was doing as he does not kill Jennifer when given the chance. Furst is incredible in the role of the hulking monster, a beast of sorts at first and then quickly transforming into a pitiful creature that has only known a lifetime of abuse and neglect. While viewers might have guessed earlier in the film as to who the real villain was, it is quickly apparent by the last act that their ruminations were correct.

Despite there being a decent amount of talent in the film, Bach was somewhat disappointing given how little she actually did until the finale, but Lassick and Furst would more than make up for it and steal the show away from her. The music by Michael J. Lewis was sharp and the atmosphere very creepy at times, lending to that overall disturbing feeling one gets when watching this movie. For a horror film, The Unseen was more Flowers in the Attic, or basement as it were than Friday the 13th.

2.5 out of 5

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