Written by: George Pacheco on July 10th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, September, 1981
Director: Danny Steinmann
Writers: Danny Steinmann (screenplay), Stan Winston (story)
Cast: Barbara Bach, Sydney Lassick, Karen Lamm
DVD Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $16.95
The Unseen was originally issued by Scorpion Releasing’s sister company Code Red a number of years back, now seeing both a high definition and DVD re-release via Scorpion, featuring a plethora of extras transported over from Code Red’s initial double disc release.
The film’s plot is relatively simple, following a news reporter—played by Bond girl extraordinaire Barbara Bach—and her two friends as they arrive in a small town to cover a local festival. The trio takes up an offer made by an overtly friendly, yet creepy hotel caretaker named Ernest for a night’s rest in the overbooked town. It isn’t long before Ernest’s true colors begin showing themselves, between his bathroom key-hole peeping and abuse of Virginia, his reserved, shut-in sister.
Ernest is played to the hammy hilt by Sydney Lassick, whose melodramatic delivery makes it difficult to take his character very seriously, even when Ernest is engaging is some truly reprehensible behavior. The fact that Lassick tends to spit out some truly ridiculous dialog doesn’t make this suspension of disbelief any easier, although when it’s revealed that Ernest and Virginia have incestuously sired a child and keep him locked in the basement, the creep factor does begin to rise a bit.
Still, The Unseen suffers from a grey, drab look which speaks more like a T.V. movie than a feature length shocker, with a supremely schmaltzy score from Michael J. Lewis. The acting is uneven, with Bach’s classical beauty and believable fright scenes being placed against Lassick’s scenery chewing and the rest of the cast’s overall blandness. The performance of Stephen Furst as “Junior” is shocking at first, but the character’s incessant grunting and pantomime grow old quickly his scenes with Bach degenerate into who can make the most bizarre facial expressions.
The Unseen, despite some solid pacing, doesn’t possess any real thrills to speak of, and struggles to rise to the occasion as a film worth releasing on DVD once, never mind twice. A couple of decent gore set pieces do make their presence known—bolstered by some cool slow motion effects and some decent camera angles—yet nothing really resonates with the viewer, leaving The Unseen as one early 80s horror curiosity better left buried.
Scorpion Releasing presents The Unseen in an anamorphic widescreen format which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. For this release Scorpion Releasing has created a brand new Hi Def transfer and the version included for this release is two minutes longer then the aforementioned Code Red DVD release. The print looks wonderful, apart from some minor instances of dirt, and probably serves as the definitive presentation of this film to date. Sound is clear throughout, with no noticeable audio drops or glitches. Extras are bountiful—imported from the Code Red release—featuring interviews audio commentary with producer Tony Unger and Stephen Furst. Overall, The Unseen receives an excellent presentation from Scorpion Releasing.
Note: Scorpion Releasing are also releasing The Unseen on BluRay.