I first caught The Unnamable on USA’s Saturday Nightmares at a ripe age when horror movies were leaving quite the impression on me. To say that this movie became a huge influence would be an understatement. It introduced me to not only a great film but also to the work of H.P. Lovecraft, who I was unfamiliar with at the time. Gimme a break – I grew up in Vegas. Culture for that town is EFX Alive
The Unnamable definitely took some liberties with Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, but does create an eerie gothic setting and unsettling atmosphere which would be perfectly at home with the author. Mark Kinsey Stephenson is Randolph Carter, nerd extraordinaire, and a well versed scholar on the local condemned house, which is supposedly cursed with an unnamable evil (He also goes to… you guessed it… Miskatonic University). It takes about two seconds for one of Randolph’s friends to challenge the story and off he goes to spend the night in the house.
Guess who never returns?
Undaunted, Randolph and his good friend Howard (Charles Klausmeyer) decide to investigate. This works out kind of well because not only has Howard’s big crush, Wendy (the voluptuous Laura Albert) gone to house on a date, but she brought along her friend Tanya (Alexandra Durrell) who has a big crush on Howard! Gee, how will it all work out? It’s not going to matter because once the unnamable creature gets a taste for human flesh, it becomes more about surviving than getting laid (good priorities!).
The Unnamable is an extremely charming film with Klausmeyer and Stephenson putting in good work in the lead roles. I particularly liked Klausmeyer who reminded me just a touch of Andrew McCarthy circa Pretty in Pink… But I digress…
The effects in this film are tremendous, especially the creature itself which is a nasty she-beast. It’s a strikingly beautiful creation and saved for the last bit of film, proving that less is more when it comes to traditional scare tactics.
The Unnamable got a sequel, aptly title the Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter and although not quite as good as the original, it does keep a little of the atmosphere and brings back the two excellent leads.
This time, Randolph and Howard head back to the house with Professor Warren (John Rhys-Davis) to retrieve the creature (for research purposes of course). After a bit of mayhem, they manage to separate the spirit of the cursed girl inside monster, Alyda Winthrop (Maria Ford), but the creature is hell bent on getting her back and follows them to Miskatonic U, doing a bit of damage along the way.
Released 5 years apart, the sequel picks up right after the original ended without missing a beat. The humor is upgraded and horror tends to take a backseat, but it’s still a fun rollercoaster ride of man vs. monster. Maria Ford is pretty good as Alyda and Julie Strain fills out the creature’s costume and then some!
Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’ve always been enamored with both of these films. The two actors are just so captivating and fun to watch. Shot on an extremely low budget, I think that director Jean-Paul Ouellette (who made both films) makes the most of what he has available. Neither film shirks on gore but most importantly it remains an engaging monster romp that pleases beyond what a lot of major studios were bringing to the table. OK, so I have a soft spot for USA’s Saturday Nightmares and I have an even softer spot for guys who look like Andrew McCarthy, but I can’t be the only one out there, right?
Piece of trivia: Klausmeyer and Stephenson would team up again in 2000 as writers for the Lifetime friendly movie Someone is Watching, starring Stefanie Powers and Margot Kidder!!!