H.P. Lovecraft’s The Unnamable (DVD film review).

Jean-Paul Quellette produced, directed and wrote the screenplay for ‘The Unnamable’ so I guess he’s what French cinema experts call the auteur. The original went straight to VHS and this is a reissue on DVD. The film is based on an early (1923) short story by H.P. Lovecraft and features that familiar trope, a bunch of college students being killed off by a monster in a big old house. There are no surprises here.

It opens back in the 1800s with bearded old Joshua Winthrop, going upstairs in response to a racket from above. He knows what it is but gets killed anyway. Neatly, the camera’s point of view is the creature’s point of view so you don’t get to see it yet, just its hand reaching out to rip the old man’s heart out. In the next scene, some Puritans come to seal the house and entomb the old man just outside.

Having established the presence of a beast we cut to the present, about 1988 when the film was made. Randolph Carter (actor Mark Kinsey Stephenson), Joel Manton (actor Mark Parra) and Howard Damon (actor Charles King) are sat near the house chatting about it. They are all students at the Miskatonic University. Carter is an expert in the paranormal and prefers to avoid it. Joel is a scientific rationalist and insists they should spend the night in the house to prove it’s harmless. Howard is wary. In the end, Joel stays in the house overnight and the other two go away. Poor Joel.

Back at Miskatonic next day, Wendy Barnes (actress Laura Albert) is in the library telling Tanya Weller (actress Alexandra Durrell) why she snubs Howard, explaining that a girl needs to get with a man who’s going places. Cue the entry of manly hunks who invite the girls to stay at the house as part of an initiation to prove they are cool enough to enter their desired Sorority. And so on.

It’s okay actually. Stephenson is good as the quiet, scholastic, unemotional Randolph Carter, a hero who doesn’t get the girl because he’s not interested. The incidental music consists of low, harsh notes on strings and tinkling piano which heightens the suspense. The direction is straightforward storytelling, no distracting silly tricks to make it arty. The lighting is effective and using the camera as the creature’s viewpoint so you don’t see it until near the end would work well if there wasn’t a picture of her on the cover of the DVD. Never mind. ‘The Unnamable’ is only one hour and twenty-seven minutes long so it’s perfect unpretentious B-Movie entertainment to go with the beer and chips on a Friday night after the pub.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2018

(region 0 DVD: pub: Unearthed Films. 87 minute film. Price: $19.08 (US). ASIN: B07DPF6XTW

cast: Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, Alexandra Durrell, Mark Para, Charles King, Laura Albert and Katrin Alexandre

check out website: www.unearthedfilms.com/

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