TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE UNSEEN (1980)

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THE UNSEEN (1980)

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Exceptionally boring horror finds a newswoman, her sister and a friend (Barbara Bach, Karen Lamm and Lois Young respectively) heading to a small town to cover an event and a mix-up leaving them with no place to stay. They stumble upon an old house, that is now used as a museum and creepy owner Ernest Keller (Sydney Lassick), invites them to use his spare rooms. So, of course, three pretty girls accept an invitation to stay in a spooky old house with a man who is creepy from the get-go. No surprise, this old house has a secret and the three young women will soon find out it is a deadly secret.

As directed by Danny Steinmann (Friday the 13 Part V) from a script by Michael L. Grace, this is a dull flick with basically little going on, including a dismally low body count for a slasher and very little blood and gore. It takes almost the whole movie to finally gather a little intensity, when Bach’s reporter Jennifer finds herself in the cellar with the Keller’s hulking secret (Animal House’s Stephen Furst). Unfortunately the hulking secret is more laughable than menacing, so there really isn’t much to make up for the slow pace and lack of suspense we have endured up to this point. Sure, the house is spooky and Lassick’s Keller can be very unsettling, but it’s not enough to make this film scary or even involving and our three lasses aren’t endearing enough to get us emotionally invested. Silent Scream did the whole hidden, crazy relative in the house thing a whole lot better that same year.

Despite what should have been a star making turn in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bach’s career never really went anywhere. She’s a bit wooden here and isn’t really that memorable as a final girl when she finally meets “Junior”. As Junior, it’s almost sad to see Stephen Furst, who gained notoriety as Flounder in Animal House, as, basically, a giant, deranged baby and the effect of his tantrums and efforts to kill Bach are laughable with the way the character is directed. It’s Sydney Lassick who is really creepy and even he goes a bit too over-the-top at times to remain effective. Lamm and Young are fine as Bach’s companions and Lelia Goldoni is sympathetic as Ernest’s abused sister/lover and mother of Junior.

This flick has a reputation, not sure why, but there is something about 80s horrors, even the worst have some sort of following. It was a great decade for horror. This one, however, is dull and even when it picks up, it provides unintentional laughs instead of chills. Barbara Bach shows little of the fire she showed as a Bond girl and the late Stephen Furst’s role is more embarrassing than memorable. I suppose if you’re an 80s completest, you should at least check it out, but don’t expect much.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) very large diapers.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 5: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)

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FRIDAY THE 13th PART 5: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)

Despite the last installment being titled Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter, the series was back a year later heralding a New Beginning. This new start was one of the blandest and weakest chapters in the entire saga. The film opens with young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) staring at Jason’s grave and witnessing in horror as he rises from it, slaughtering two would-be grave robbers and then coming for him. We realize it’s just a dream and the institutionalized Tommy (John Shepherd) is now full grown and still haunted by the nightmare of his encounter with Crystal Lake’s most infamous resident. As our story begins, Tommy is being sent to the Pinehurst Halfway House, a home for troubled youths where they are sent to be rehabilitated and returned to society. But Tommy’s dreams and hallucinations of Jason continue and when he witnesses the murder of one of the youths by another, it seems to be a trigger for a new killing spree by some unknown assailant who begins to slaughter the halfway house members and the locals, one by one in gruesome ways. Did seeing the death send the volatile Tommy over the edge?…is there a new killer out there?…or has Jason somehow returned from the grave as Tommy fears?

This uninspired 5th installment was directed by Danny Steinmann, who also directed the Linda Blair revenge flick Savage Streets and apparently got his start in porn. Either way he is a competent enough director, but nothing more, as the film is extremely generic and despite an abundant body count, the kills are all rather routine and there is little suspense or tension until the last few minutes…and even that has a ‘been there done that’ quality to it as it is set in a barn like the climax of Part 3. The film also completely lacks the feel of a Friday The 13th film despite still being scored by Harry Manfredini and following the formula very closely. Also, the tone is very uneven as one minute things are dead serious, then the next we get the antics of cartoonish characters to disrupt the atmosphere like an annoying redneck mother and son who have no impact on the plot. They are disruptive and there only for body count purposes and even their deaths make no sense upon learning the killer’s motives. In fact, a lot of characters deaths make no sense when the killer’s identity and motive are reveled. Was he simply bored?

The cast are fine enough with their generic characters with Shepherd giving us an adequately troubled and sympathetic Tommy, one we feel sorry for, but also suspect. Melanie Kinnaman is pretty and holds her own as Pam, who helps run the house…though you’d think a woman surrounded by delinquent teens would wear a bra, especially if it’s going to rain. Rounding out the leads is Shavar Ross who is lively and endearing as Reggie or ‘Reckless’, a young boy who takes a liking to Tommy and is there at the climax to help battle our mysterious villain…and while on that subject, once we get our big reveal it’s very ho-hum as is the explanation for the motive.

A weak entry it certainly is and proves that not everyone is fit to wear the hockey mask, as it was not all that well received by fans and started a decline in the series’ interest and box office. It was the last installment to gross over $20 million till Jason and Freddy threw down 18 years later. Very disappointing. For hard core fans only. The following film tried to get the series back on track, but interest continued to decline from here.

2 (out of 4) hockey masks

friday 13 p5 rating

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