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The Unseen
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Unseen More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A consistently entertaining shocker.

7/10
Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 1980 horror film "The Unseen" is diverting stuff: it's equal parts amusing, disturbing, and ultimately touching. With story credit going to makeup effects masters Stan Winston and Tom Burman, it's got some fine suspense moments, good makeup effects by Craig Reardon (but not very much gore), a fantastic music score by Michael J. Lewis, and capable acting from a well chosen cast. It moves along well to a terrific final third, when all is revealed. Some potential viewers may be turned off by the low body count, while others may admire the twisted nature of the story points. (For those who care, there *is* full frontal nudity from cast member Lois Young.)

Gorgeous, glamorous Barbara Bach, the Bond girl of "The Spy Who Loved Me", stars as Jennifer Fast, a reporter who travels with her crew, consisting of Vicki (Ms. Young) and Jennifers' sister Karen (Karen Lamm, "Trackdown"), to the tiny California town of Solvang to cover its Danish festival. Due to a mix-up with their reservations, they're without lodging, but fortunately they run into museum proprietor Ernest Keller (Sydney Lassick, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), who offers to let them stay at his farmhouse. Unfortunately, what they don't know is that Ernest and his mousy "wife" Virginia (Lelia Goldoni, "Shadows") are hiding a big secret in their cellar, which surfaces to terrorize the three lovely ladies.

Bach does well in the lead, even though in the last act she doesn't do much besides scream and cower in fright. Lamm and Young are likable, as is Douglas Barr ('The Fall Guy', "Deadly Blessing") as Jennifers' athlete boyfriend. Goldoni is so good that your heart just goes out to her character. But the movie really belongs to the late, very distinctive character actor Lassick, who here has one of the biggest roles of his career and makes the most of it. His truly creepy Ernest is the true monster of the piece, not the mentally impaired "Junior" (incredibly well played by Stephen "Flounder" Furst of "Animal House") who only wants to play and doesn't know his own strength.

This is a solid credit for the late cult director Danny Steinmann ("Savage Streets", "Friday the 13th: A New Beginning"), although he was dissatisfied enough with the final cut that he took his name off the picture, to be replaced with the pseudonym "Peter Foleg".

Some of the same crew from "Halloween" (1978) are utilized here, including Don Behrns, Barry Bernardi, and camera operator Raymond Stella.

Seven out of 10.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Good atmosphere saves a slow paced movie

8/10
Author: silversprdave from Washington DC suburb
14 April 2002

The Unseen is done in a style more like old Hollywood mysteries than a horror show. The film is somewhat slow but lots of bizarre imagery keeps it the film alive and watchable. The basic idea of young girls stalked by something in the basement is old, but good acting and production make the movie worth watching. The movie is notable for its emotional impact and certainly not for any explicit action or special effects. I rated it an 8 out of 10.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

GET this film if you can find it

8/10
Author: snausworldlove from United States
4 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Get this film if at all possible. You will find a really good performance by Barbara Bach, beautiful cinematography of a stately (and incredibly clean) but creepy old house, and an unexpected virtuoso performance by … "The Unseen". I picked up a used copy of this film because I was interested in seeing more of Bach, whom I'd just viewed in "The Spy Who Loved Me." I love really classically beautiful actresses and appreciate them even more if they can act a little. So: we start with a nice fresh premise. TV reporter Bach walks out on boyfriend and goes to cover a festival in a California town, Solvang, that celebrates its Swedish ancestry by putting on a big folk festival. She brings along a camerawoman, who happens to be her sister, and another associate. (The late Karen Lamm plays Bach's sister, and if you know who the celebrities are that each of these ladies is married to, it is just too funny watching Bach (Mrs. Ringo Starr) and Lamm (Mrs. Dennis Wilson) going down the street having a sisterly quarrel.)) Anyway … Bach's disgruntled beau follows her to Solvang, as he's not done arguing with her. There's a lot of feeling still between them but she doesn't wanna watch him tear himself up anymore about his down-the-drain football career. The ladies arrive in Solvang to do the assignment for their station, only to find their reservations were given away to someone else. (Maybe to Bach's boyfriend, because think of it – where's he gonna stay?). The gals ask around but there is just nowhere to go. Mistakenly trying to get into an old hotel which now serves only as a museum, they catch the interest of proprietor Mr. Keller (the late Sidney Lassick), who decides to be a gentleman and lodge them at his home, insisting his wife will be happy to receive them. Oh no! Next thing we know Keller is making a whispered phone call to his wife, warning her that company's coming and threatening that she'd better play along. Trouble in paradise! The ladies are eager to settle in and get back to Solvang to shoot footage and interview Swedes, but one of the girls doesn't feel good. Bach and Lamm leave her behind, wondering to themselves about Mrs. Keller (played heartbreakingly by pretty Lelia Goldoni) who looks like she just lost her best pal. Speaking of which … under-the-weather Vicki slips off her clothes and gets into a nice hot tub, not realizing that Keller has crept into her room to inspect the keyhole. She hears him, thinks he's come to deliver linen, and calls out her thanks. Lassick did a great job in this scene expressing the anguish of a fat old peeping tom who didn't get a long enough look. After he's left, poor Vicki tumbles into bed for a nap but gets yanked out of it real fast (in a really decent, frightening round of action) by something BIG that has apparently crept up through a grille on the floor … The Unseen! Lamm comes home next (Bach is out finishing an argument with her beau) and can't find anyone in the house. She knocks over a plate of fruit in the kitchen, and, on hands and knees to collect it, her hair and fashionable scarf sway temptingly over the black floor grille … attracting The Unseen again! Well, at about the time poor Lamm is getting her quietus in the kitchen, we do a flashback into Mr. Keller's past and get the full story of what his sick, sadistic background really is and why his wife doesn't smile much. Bach finally gets home and wants to know where her friends are. Meanwhile, Lassick has been apprised of the afternoon's carnage by his weeping wife and decides he can't let Bach off the premises to reveal the secret of his home. He tempts her down into the basement where the last act of the Keller family tragedy finally opens to all of us.

I cannot say enough for Stephen Furst, whom I'd never seen before; it's obvious that he did his homework for this role, studying the methods of communication and expression of the brain damaged; Bach and Goldoni, each in their diverse way, just give the movie luster. Not only that, but movie winds up with a satisfying resolution. No stupid cheap tricks, eyeball-rolling dialog or pathetically cut corners... A real treat for your collection.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Sleaze-appeal

4/10
Author: jangu from Stockholm, Sweden
13 March 2001

This scared the hell out of me when i was a teenager. Now I find it more amusing than scary, but with some pretty unsettling moments and with a kind of sleazy quality to it that I like. And, come to think of it, the plot is rather disgusting actually...but handled with some kind of taste. If there is a problem with this movie, it is that there are HUGE gaps where nothing exciting or interesting happens. Also, the ending goes on forever, making a potentially tense climax seem silly after a while with Barbara Bach screaming and screaming. The "monster", after it is exposed, isn't very scary either unfortunately. The somewhat drab look of the movie also works against it, making it appear as a TV-movie more than something made for theaters. But it is an example of films that are rarely made nowadays so I urge horror fans to watch it and feel a bit nostalgic...

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Kind of scary and hilarious

6/10
Author: Bezenby from United Kingdom
20 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was kind of worried about this one when two of three potential victims were bumped off fairly quickly, but I needn't have worried, because the film was just making time for the deranged family to have a good old fifteen minute long punch up near the end of the film! I think while they were throwing each other around and battering two by fours off of each other's head, they completely forgot about the final girl.

This one does have scary parts. Sydney Lasseck is enjoyably twitchy as the head of the family, and the scene where junior appears scared the wife a bit. Barbara Bach, however, is pretty awful. She doesn't do much of anything except smoke cigarettes and look bored.

It's slow going at first, but when junior comes along the film picks up. Plus, I nearly bust a gut when Lasseck hit junior with a massive plank of wood with a nail through it. That was only topped when the ex-boyfriend's leg injury played up at the most unfortunate time (I nearly fell off the couch at that bit).

Yeah - this one's okay, really.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Creepy, but also distasteful

Author: Wizard-8 from Victoria, BC
30 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Unseen" does manage to stand out from many other independent horror movies of this period. The production values are pretty good, for one thing. More importantly, much of the movie is creepy enough to make you genuinely uneasy. Much of this is due to the performances of the two lead male actors. Cult star Sydney Lassick makes his Ernest character a very uneasy figure - you can tell he's hiding something, as well as hinting that his character is a very disturbed individual long before secrets are revealed. And Stephen Furst is very convincing as "Junior", the out of control secret who is extremely unpredictable.

Both actors bring in some genuinely creepiness and chills, and the direction adds some genuine atmosphere at times. Still, the movie remains somewhat tasteless to a degree. When we learn how disturbed Ernest is, and how he treats his "wife" and Junior, there is an uneasy feeling of genuine cruelty. Also, the character of Junior often comes across as an unfortunate, and a victim to a degree. The treatment of this unfortunate leads to some uncomfortable moments.

Is the movie worth seeing despite the lapses in taste? Maybe. I would recommend it to viewers who are (1) fans of independent horror movies from this period, and (2) are not easily offended. Though even these people might find some moments of the movie tough to sit through.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"I see you've met Junior."

Author: Backlash007 from Kentucky
30 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

~Spoiler~

I wish The Unseen would have stayed that way. I now completely understand why Danny Steinmann took his name off the picture. It just doesn't play like a Steinmann movie. It's boring. And Steinmann's other films are anything but boring. The film stars the beautiful Barbara Bach as a reporter who is forced to stay with a weird old couple while putting together a story. Little does Bach and her crew know that something lurks in the basement. Not a lot happens during the first hour of the film and we spend too much time with the creepy Sydney Lassick rather than the luscious Bach. The attacks by the Unseen are not as terrifying as they should be mainly because, well, you don't see anything. When the Unseen actually does get some screen time, you will certainly be shocked, be it a good thing or a bad thing. Special commendation goes out to Stephen Furst who actually plays the Unseen. Never before has a performance simultaneously freaked me out and caused hysterical laughter. Seeing Flounder from Animal House in an over-sized diaper looking like one of the mutants from Nothing But Trouble is as good as it sounds. But it doesn't make the film watchable. Stick to Savage Streets or Friday the 13th part V for the real Danny Steinmann experience.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Mentally ill fun

Author: TonyDood from United States
28 April 2005

This is not a film for the typical horror fan; this movie appeals to those who enjoy a little mental disturbance with their terror. Or even a laugh or two. I can't believe they didn't know that it was funny to watch Stephn Furst acting like a mentally challenged mutant monster, ala "The Goonies," it HAD to be intentional, and as such I applaud the filmmakers!

The story is about something horrible in the basement and Barbara Bach finds out what it is, after the usual set-up story points. There's little more to it than that. The reason to seek this film out is if you are a lover of mutants and like a little madness in your scary movies.

Otherwise, stick to something more safe and traditional.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sleazy, partially successful shocker

Author: Vince-5 from northeastern PA
2 May 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Contains Spoilers

The Unseen didn't do very well in its initial release and remains rather obscure today, but it deserves to be seen by cult fans at least once. It's a weird, clammy little exploitation horror piece about a basement-dwelling SOMETHING stalking and killing female reporters. Perverse and offbeat, but the climax, in which Barbara Bach comes face to face with "Junior" (Stephen Furst), is disappointing. It's a protracted scene of her flinching and screaming as he grunts and paws at her, and it seems to go on forever. If I need to see incoherently babbling, overweight people who sleep in garbage, all I have to do is observe certain relatives on vacation! Things pick up, though, and the movie ends with a bang despite the lost momentum. The luscious Bach delivers a good performance, considering the material she's given. Also memorable are Sydney Lassick as the giggly, leering owner of the house and Lelia Goldoni as his depressed sister. The Unseen may not be great, but it's slightly above average and worth a look.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Decent Afternoon Fair

6/10
Author: lovecraft231 from United States
23 August 2008

Freelance reporter Jennifer (Barbara Bach)and her friends Vicki (Lois Young) and Karen (Karen Lamm) come visit a farmhouse owned by a shady museum owner. Little do they know is that there is something living underneath the house-and it's not very nice.

Director Danny ("Savage Streets", "Friday the 13th V") Steinmann and co-writer Kim ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") Henkel give you "The Unseen", a little known but watchable early 80's horror tale that has garnered something of a cult following. On one hand, it's easy to see why-Henkel and Steinmann's involvement is hard to ignore, though it's reliance on eerie, Gothic scares instead of gore (quite different from the slasher movies of the time), a plot that's part "Texas Chainsaw" and part "Psycho", some impressive atmosphere, and creepy score are all factors that work-well, for the most part.

The acting unfortunately, isn't that stellar, particularly Bach, who in spite of being in some great movies, is far from interesting here. The biggest problem though, is the third act, which just feels like the writer and director ran out of ideas in the last minute. While Stephen ("Animal House") Furst is good as the disfigured monster, his character isn't that scary, and feels a bit underdeveloped, as do other characters.

"The Unseen" is a decent but hardly perfect forgotten 80's horror flick that would make a nice watch on a rainy weekend afternoon, and would also make a nice double bill with Jeff Lieberman's underrated "Just Before Dawn." If you want to see it, then get it on DVD, though I doubt that it really deserves the 2-Disc treatment Code Red has given it.

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