'The Unnamable: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, Alexandra Durrell, Laura Albert, Katrin Alexandre, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1988) 2018 / Unearthed Films - MVD Visual)
Overview: High school students check out a haunted house where in the 1800's an ugly monster called "the Unnamable" was trapped in a vault.
Blu-ray Verdict: To my mind, the overall (and continual) problem with adapting HPL to the screen lies in the fact that he used literary sleight-of-hand to hint at, but never fully reveal his monsters because that ultimately would have required giving a definite shape to them. Once defined, he knew they would be less frightening.
This is rarely done in movies, and if you hold off showing the monster until the end, you'd better make the payoff big. One that springs immediately to mind are 'The Haunted Palace' (which suffers from the revelation of the monster at the end ie: apparently some sort of plastic costume left over from 'It Conquered the World,' with a tacky wavy effect tacked on to it) - and so does this film.
Not that the creature isn't done well, but ultimately, she's a woman in a costume and that's just not that, well, unnameable. (Is "unnamable" even correct spelling?) Sorry, I digress.
Apart from that, the movie is just a standard haunted house film, with college students being picked off one-by-one by said unnameable thing. (which actually does have a name, we learn, come to think of it!)
Doors lock mysteriously and inexplicably, and the evil force dispatched everyone easily until the end of the movie. Although, I think it's more than fair to mention that the sequel showed more originality and atmosphere.
The film's two central characters are an odd and strangely likable pairing. One is Randolph Carter (played by Mark Kinsey Stephenson who reprises the role in the sequel), a quirky and sometimes irritating bookworm who eventually manages to dispel the evil.
The other is Howard Damon, played by Charles King, who brings a touch of warmth and laughter to the role of the nervous hero. Sadly a gang of teenagers fill up the bulk of the film and it has to be said that their acting is awfully wooden.
In closing, UCLA students should get a kick of the locations, though: The exteriors for the film were shot on the quad, and the library scene may be Powell or the University Research Library.
A far cry from the ancient, brooding New England Miskatonic described by HPL, the film has quite a fast pace and, although predictable, it kept me watching throughout.
Indeed, I would even go so far as to say that it is fairly enjoyable on a basic level, although not particularly frightening or atmospheric. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature from a brand new 4K HD Scan with color correction and restoration from the original camera negative
Audio: English 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound
Audio Commentary with Charles Klausmeyer, Mark Stephenson, Laura Albert, Eben Ham, Camille Calvet, R. Christopher Biggs
Interviews with R. Christopher Biggs special makeup effects artist & make-up artist Camille Calvet
Interview with Mark Parra
Interview with actors Charles Klausmeyer & Mark Kinsey Stephenson
Interview with actor Eben Ham
Interview with actress Laura Albert