Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Unseen (1980)

Some months back I was cruising through YouTube, probably watching fails or kittens or the like, when a suggested movie popped up: The Unseen.

When I saw the suggestion I was all like: "The Unseen! Why have I not seen this!?"

The movie surprised me in many ways, the first being that it takes place in and around Solvang, California. I was not expecting a horror movie to come out of this quaint little Danish village!!

I'm half Danish and I traveled down there to celebrate our family's biannual reunion some years back. I have a particularly fond memory of my 88 year old Mormor (grandmother) taking one bite out of a local vendor's aebleskiver then promptly spitting it out and shouting: "This is PANCAKE MIX!". Mormor was not a woman to mess with, especially when it came to the aebleskivers. Remind me to tell you sometime about when Mormor, in a rush to get outside, plowed right through her screen door. Ah....fond memories.

Okay! So the movie takes place in and around Solvang, this delighted me so much that I continued watching the film despite the sense that this might end in disappointment.

It did not end in disappointment, rather the surprises kept mounting! They were horror surprises, however, not happy ones.

This film focuses heavily on domestic abuse. I actually did not see that coming - figured this might be more of a ghost or creature feature...and it is, a little, in a sense...

The film also focuses, to startling degrees, on sexual reproduction. I can not tell you how all these elements interplay without giving away significant portions of the film's twists, just know these elements are present.

The final surprise came with the knowledge (after I saw the film) that the Director, Writer, and Actor in the film, Danny Stienmann, was so upset with the editing process (apparently claiming all the good scares were cut), that he had his name removed from the credits. Seems like a rather bold move, and makes me wonder what on Earth could have been cut! 

That said, the editing of this film is a little odd - even before I learned of the apparent editing fiasco, I noticed that the movie moved rather awkwardly, sections of the story appeared as if they were forced together when they shouldn't have been. 

The acting is startling and very uncomfortable for the viewer, partially because it's good and partially because the characters are just so dang strange.... This makes for some good old fashioned hilarity but you'll also want to laugh to dislodge some of that discomfort.

In the end the movie is an unusual hybrid of campy 1980's slasher meets very dark and twisted secrets. This is a nice blend for those looking for films buried far beneath the 1980's classics. I enjoyed this film quite a bit, but not because it's a stellar horror story but rather that it's a ballsy horror story. An unsettling feature that will pair well with a small group on a cold, dark night.

Recommended drinks: light beers in little glasses or dark wines in large, gaudy goblets. Food: chicken, stale crackers, aebelskivers.

I saw this film on YouTube. You should not watch this on YouTube. The quality is poor and I'm not entirely certain the producers put it up there. A DVD version was released in 2008, I believe. Or use the links under Find It. Watch It. on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can find this downright disturbing feature.

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