In H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Unnamable, recurring character Randolph Carter tells his friend about a monster that haunts a local house, whose form cannot be perceived by the five senses, making the appearance of the creature unquantifiable (hence the name The Unnamable). As the story concludes the beast attacks the two and they survive (96-year-old spoiler warning,) albeit with scarring from a large horned creature, with hoofs and everything else under the sun.
In Jean-Paul Ouellette’s 1988 film The Unnamable, based on the short, the character of Randolph Carter is present, and he does tell a story about a haunted house featuring a creature with horns and hoofs, but that is where the similarities end. In Ouellette’s film, the story can be distilled down to your basic monster horror flick, where a bunch of hapless victims wander into an old house and are systematically knocked off. The flick does throw some gnarly gore your way, with some excellent practical effects by R. Christopher Biggs and co. The creature, when finally revealed is also another practical effect highlight. Unfortunately, putting the murder scenes and effects aside you are left with only some poor acting and a weak story. Ouellette tries to implement a bunch of different H.P. Lovecraft ideas into the story, with the Necronomicon showing up, but its use is limited.
Moving along to the Blu-ray from Unearthed Classics, we are greeted with a mixed bag of pros and cons. The new 4K transfer is quite nice looking, with only the occasional dirt and debris present, but overall the film is looking the best it has ever looked. Unfortunately, when we take a listen to the audio, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track has an annoying echo throughout most of the film. Thankfully, the restored 2.0 soundtrack doesn’t have the issue. Also included is a 2.0 “Grindhouse” vintage soundtrack. Personally, it just sounded hollow to me. The extra features on the Blu-ray are unusual. They are presented as video chats, but the quality of the video and audio is so abysmal at times you’ll be thinking the video chat is going to drop at any time. At least the interviews are quite lengthy, with a bunch of information. Rounding out the features is a Photo Gallery and Trailers.
H.P Lovecraft’s The Unnamable is a film that impresses at times (the gore, the creature,) but then immediately disappoints you with some terrible acting and a rather weak story. Just like the movie, the Blu-ray will impress with a quality transfer and lengthy extras, but frustrate you with a faulty 5.1 soundtrack, and even though the extras are lengthy, their quality is poor. As to whether you should pick it up? The Unnamable has enough redeemable qualities for fans of Lovecraft and ’80s horror that they’ll be happy to plop their money down. Just don’t expect a smooth experience.