Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 14th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1981
Director: Peter Foleg (Danny Steinmann)
Writer: Michael L. Grace
Cast: Stephen Furst, Barbara Bach, Sydney Lassick, Lelia Goldoni, Karen Lamm, Douglas Barr, Lois Young, Maida Severn
DVD released: August 19th, 2008
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Synopsis: Unable to find a hotel too stay while covering a locale Danish festival, a reporter and the two members of her crew find lodging at a remote countryside estate.
The Unseen was directed by Danny Steinmann who other notable films as a director includes Savage Streets and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. The genesis behind the screenplay which would ultimately evolve into the movie The Unseen is like an incestuous melting pot of ideas that were conjured up no less than six writers even though Michael L. Grace is given sole credit as author of the screenplay. The core of the story revolves around a young man named “Junior” with Down syndrome who is the child born out of a brothers infectious affair with his sister. This child is forced by his father who beats him to live in the family’s cellar so that no one will find out about the families dirty little secret. The family’s secret is in danger of being exposed when three reporters are invited to stay with “Junior” and his family.
The Unseen has all the elements of a horror film even though it feels like director Danny Steinmann is trying to make a film that has some weight to it. This film is exploitation cinema at its best and nothing more. The film has a few peaks and valleys were the pacing tends to drag. The film really starts to cook when “Junior” who is played by Stephen Furst finally is shown on screen after spending most of the film in the shadows. Stephen Furst (Animal House) is remarkable as “Junior” a disturbed, misunderstood and tortured character. The cast also features a steady performance from Euro-cult regular and former Bond girl Barbara Bach. Her characters scenes with “Junior” are the best moments in the film. Another performance of note is Sydney Lassick (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Carrie). Sydney Lassick does a superb job playing the slimy prevented father of “Junior”. Overall what I found most enjoyable about The Unseen is the performances from its leads which help elevate the films subpar story and direction.
Code Red presents The Unseen in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This is another strong transfer from Code Red that looks colorful and detailed throughout. Of note there are some minor instances of print damage in the form of specs of dirt.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There are no audio defects. The audio sounds clean, clear and evenly balanced.
The extra content for this release is spread over two discs. Extras on disc one include a stills gallery and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Other extras include two interviews Doug Barr (7 minutes) and Stephen Furst (9 minutes). Both actors are a joy to listen to as they are very forthcoming in their responses especially Stephen Furst. Rounding out the extras on disc one is an audio commentary with Stephen Furst and producer Tony Ungar. This audio commentary is moderated by Lee Christian. The audio commentary is filled with many interesting stories from Stephen Furst and Tony Unagr who not only discuss The Unseen. They talk about various other films that they have worked on. Also included on disc one are trailers for The Farmer, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, Sole Survivor, Beyond the Door, The Dead Pit, The Visitor and Terror Circus.
Extras on disc two include a thirty eight minute interview with make-up supervisor Craig Reardon who discusses how he got the job, the involvement of Stan Winston and Tom Burman and the difficulty working with director Danny Steinmann. Other subjects discussed are his thoughts on the actors and actress who worked on The Unseen and he goes into great detail about his make-up effects for The Unseen. Also include with this release is a twenty five interview with Tom Burman who discusses his involvement in developing the script and the make-up effects he created before leaving the project. Rounding out the extras on disc two is an extensive image gallery with test stills, slides and sketches from Craig Reardon’s personal collection. Overall The Unseen gets a deluxe DVD release from Code Red that is sure to wow fans of the film and win over new admires of this rarely seen horror film.