The Unnamable (1988) Poster


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One of my favorites
mlevans10 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
One of the really nice late 1980s horror films that told a great story without having a huge budget to work with, The Unnamable is among my favorites in the genre. It came out about the same time as Pumpkinhead and Rawhead Rex. I would put it at the top of that little group.

I'm not sure why this one isn't rated higher. To me it has everything you need for a cool horror flick: a great creature, some creepy Gothic backdrops and an interesting story. It also has some appealing characters.

There is also a bit of a tongue-in-cheek feel, similar to The Lost Boys, which came out not long afterward. The hero, Randolph Carter (Mark Kinsey Stephenson) is calm, cool and collected almost to the brink of satire. The director Ouellette has a little fun with us also in a little moving camera sequence in which we think the monster or some other harm is stalking Carter on campus – only to find out it is Howard (Charles Klausmeyer or King) trying to catch up with him.

My only criticism is that the abandoned house, sealed off for apparently some 200 years (The minister and Dr. Winthrop certainly appeared to be from the 17th or 18th century.), looks like it has only been abandoned for 10 years or so. Of course a frame house left unattended would not even STAND 200 years, but that's beside the point.

The film has all the trappings most A and B horror fans expect: A cool creature, some blood and gore, and a sex scene. At least in this case the sex scene is somewhat within the context of the plot.

The acting is solid, with gorgeous Laura Albert and Alexandra Durrell as the coeds, Eben Ham and Blane Wheatley as the campus studs who get more than they bargained for in the old house, and Mark Parra as the cock-sure skeptic. Stephenson is engaging as the laid-back, unruffled brainiac Carter and Klausmeyer is convincing as the over-eager freshman Howard.

Stephenson does well to bring the hideous Alyda into view gradually, so that her appearance is still a shock when we begin seeing full-frame shots of her. The image of her sidling over to a prone victim is one that has given me shivers for years.

This is a very good horror flick. I would not even call it a B horror film. Like Pumpkinhead, Rawhead Rex, Fright Night and the Lost Boys, it is one of a string of solid horror films that didn't rely on CGI to scare audiences during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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Dare, you say...
mylimbo10 February 2009
H.P Lovercraft's short story 'The Unnamable' is brought to the screen in a low-rent looking, small-scale production by first time writer/director Jean-Paul Ouellette. Maybe not as commanding as the likes of 'Re-Animator', 'From Beyond' and even 'Necronomicon', but Ouellette manages to invoke a twisted Gothic monster tale filled with menacing atmosphere and dripping with modest blood and gore. The latter actually surprised me how competently it was achieved, and the demon design is a horrifically creative design. Special effects/make-up artists R. Christopher Biggs and Camille Calvet did an excellent job, and I have healthy resume to back up their professional work.

Other than being quite graphic and stemming with eerily howling sound effects, the whole supernatural set-up for the story is quite conventionally light (little in the way of exploring the back-history and the climax is quite sudden) with the usual shocks and developments within an secluded rundown house that breathes spookiness. Really the premise's outline seemed more interesting than what Ouellette's execution could make of it, although the 90 minutes do breeze by with compact editing and the creaky roughness gives it some grit. Ouellette's systematic script is dramatically thin and strictly serious, save some dark humorous spots.

Legend has it that Joshua Winthrop kept in his family's house locked away his demon child that he and his wife were so ashamed about that called it 'the Unnamable'. It trying to keep it hidden, the creature turns on him and brutally murders him. Now in the present, students at the nearby Miskatonic College spend a night in the supposedly haunted house, which there only chance of survival rests on the open-mind of Randolph Carter.

Mark Kinsey Stephenson installs a brash, self-assured attitude to the Randolph Carter character, even though his screen time is limited it's always felt. While surrounding him are appealing turns by Charles Klausmeyer, Alexandra Durrell and Laura Albert.

David Bergeaud's racy, unhinged score is a shamble. One second it's nervously ominous then it changes to something playfully cute. Obviously these sudden shifts in the score were to match up to the moods of the characters/situation (from gruesome activities, suspense driven or humorous inclusion), but more often it felt forced upon. Ouellette's tightly staged handling relies on dim lighting with blue filtering to etch out an imposingly forlorn house and surroundings (like the graveyard) thanks to art director Ann Job. The demon is mainly kept hidden with sweeping POV shots, silhouette outlining, and glimpses of legs until we see it in full glory towards the end… but what stays with you is constant high-pitch screaming it unleashes.

Nothing formidable, but acceptable 80s monster gruel.
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Film well rooted in Lovecraft's story
CPM2518 July 1999
Many Lovecraft films stray far from the original Lovecraft story. THE UNNAMEABLE is only seven pages long, but the screenwriters crafted their story very well using the source material for the story. As for film gore, that is just "fluff" for modern horror film fans who seldom notice the underlying themes and concepts of the story. This is a good attempt to use original Lovecraft material and update to a modern setting without violating the concept of the original story.
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Miskatonic U. hi-jinks turn dangerous, entertaining.
goodellaa24 April 2004
This low-budget horror picture inspired by a Lovecraft short story benefits from the sincere effort that went into making it. Also nobody seems to be taking things too seriously until the University student fun and games have gone past the point of no return. Corny and non-sensical elements can be overlooked in the name of entertainment here. The lovely monster (if you've read the story you have an idea of what it is like) is only the tip of the iceburg, for the story has one foot in Bluto Blutarski's universe and one in H. P. Lovecraft's. The effect, taken together, is charming if neither laugh-out-loud funny or terrifying.
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Great 80s horror movie!
Movie Nuttball15 April 2003
I am not sure if there is two versions of the film but I want to say that the original uncut version is good.Though I could do with out the nudity but for horror fans this is a great one to see with a awesome female monster!The truth is I actually felt sorry for her at the end.Great 80s horror film that is scary and should satisfy most horror fans!
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Better If You Enjoy Lovecraft Stories
skallisjr14 May 2005
Howard Philipps Lovecraft was a remarkable author, and it's often an acquired taste to enjoy many of his stories. It's my opinion that the duller the original Lovecraft story, the more entertaining the film, and vice versa.

This story is middle-of-the-road, and so is the film. It bears all the hallmarks of a standard 1980s horror film, but it has little allusions and touches that those who read Lovecraft would be familiar with would be entertained by. In-jokes, if you will.

The original story was relatively short, and expanding it to feature length probably required the mortising in of the standard horror elements found in 1980s type films. There have been some pretty good films that use these elements -- Pumpkinhead springs to mind -- that even if this film uses those elements, that shouldn't detract from the overall story.
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A cloven-hoofed she-beast shrieks and stalks college kids in this H.P Lovecraft adaptation.
kclipper5 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This 1980s effort has amateurish acting, cheese-ball music and little direction towards suspense, but due to some pretty good gore effects and an effectively scary creature, this sustains itself enough to be a worthy late niter. Sometime in the 1800s, a man keeps a mad, shrieking female monster locked up in a room in a house overlooking a graveyard. After he arbitrarily lets it out, the creature rips his heart out of his chest, and the legend continues to stir up curiosities for two hundred years to come. Its 1988, and college students are now discussing the myth: Anyone who goes into the upstairs vault of the old house will see the she-beast's imprint in the overlooking window, and will consequently be murdered in the worst of ways. Of course, the students decide to hold a little outing in the house overnight, and fall victim to the creature one by one.

This was adapted from a short story by the infamous H.P Lovecraft, who's stylish horror masterpieces contain violently bizarre themes and darkly curious characters such as the lead hero, Randolf Carter. The atmosphere of this is pretty disturbing, especially the blood-curdling shriek of the monster, and producer/director Jean-Paul Ouellette's intentions on not showing the creature until the latter half of the film. The violence includes, gratuitous neck ripping and head bashing as the group of sorry students search for a way out of the dark hallways of the house, meanwhile being stalked by the lurking beast. The rest is pretty routine, as the smart and logical Carter discovers a way to diffuse the situation, and somehow the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) plays a part in this weirdness. Its a fun little monster movie if you can suspend disbelief. (followed by a sequel of course), and this is unrated, so avoid any possible R-rated cut versions.
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Great movie to scare 10 year olds on Halloween!!!
alimark75 November 2006
When I was 10 my best friend and I had a sleep over at her house on Halloween after trick or treating. We were already riled up by the nights candy feast and were ready to get our scare on. We started our escapade with The Unnameable. At first no problems then the tag line came on and from that point on throughout the movie we were clinging to the couch in fear of the creature on the screen. What was crazy was we couldn't believe that it had breasts!!! Anyway, it scarred the crap out of us and I have never forgotten that movie, I loved it and still do. If you are looking to stricken fear into the hearts of 10 year olds grab this movie its freaky!!!
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Cool gore movie
Scream-72 November 1998
This movie is scary at sometimes, but at other times it's gory. I just love the gore murders! They're pretty cool! You get a ripped-out throat, decapitated body, broken neck and more! See this film if you're looking for some gore!
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Here's a name: Cheeseball!
Coventry25 December 2009
Oh jolly, another H.P. Lovecraft horror adaptation! In the vein of the successful "Re-Animator", these adaptations were extremely popular during the late 80's and early 90's but most of them were only very loosely inspired by Lovecraft and furthermore just an excuse to bring to the screen hideous demons and cheesy gore. "The Unnamable" is the best example of this, actually, as the opening fifteen minutes still attempt to create an atmosphere of mystery and morbidity reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft's finest works, but afterwards the film quickly degenerates into a typically 80's teenybopper flick with fraternity initiation rites and really dumb dialogs. 200 years ago, Joshua Winthrop's wife gave birth to a female demon and he kept it locked away in the attic for a long time until the creature eventually killed him. The film opens with this storytelling, as the concerned house still exists and is now located nearby the Miskatonic University and three male students challenge each other to spend the night. Two of them refuse and the third one is never heard from again. The next day, the two others go back to search for their missing friend, but they're unaware than another group of brainless students already broke into the house. "The Unnamable" is far from a great horror film but, in all fairness, you could do a lot worse in case you're just looking to kill an hour and a half of time. The titular demon, which as it turns out in the end had a name all along, isn't seen until 50 minutes in the film even though there's an illustration of it on the DVD-cover. Before that, we just hear a lot of screeching, growling and thumping on doors. There are quite a few weird characters in the film, like the alleged Lovecraft alter ego Randolph Carter who talks funnily and pretends to be an expert in demonology even though he spends most of the film in a library looking things up. The gore effects are delightfully cheesy and grotesque, with a couple of torn open throats, decapitations and the repeated smashing off a person's head against a hard wooden floor. "The Unnamable" is insignificant, forgettable and quite dumb, but nevertheless okay entertainment for fans of rancid 80's horror.
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Fast-paced gore movie with zero originality
Leofwine_draca25 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Yet another in the long line of "teenagers get killed in a deserted house" type films, this low budget entry benefits from having some nasty gore scenes which help to stop it from becoming totally worthless. The film begins in the past, with a man getting his heart ripped out by the demon that his daughter has become. A load of people dressed in old-fashioned clothes proceed to bury him. At this point I was actually happy when the film jumps to the present, as the low budget nature of the production just isn't enough to bring a historical scene like that to fact, it just looked silly. By now we see that a tree has grown from the tomb (nice touch) and that the house is STILL abandoned. Pretty soon the usual group of sex-mad teenagers invade the place one night and proceed to get picked off one by one.

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will no doubt be disappointed by yet another relatively lacklustre adaptation of one of his shorts, as aside from a few character and place names, the film totally fails in dredging up the kind of oppressive atmosphere that his stories so brilliantly conveyed. With the film's title and all, you might expect the monster in this film to be some hideously frightening monstrosity, but instead it turns out to be a woman in a rubber demon suit, which is another disappointment and far from the spirit of Lovecraft's work.

The film's two central characters are an odd and strangely likable pairing. One is Randolph Carter (played by Mark Kinsey Stephenson who reprised 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. A quick browse of the IMDb reveals that three out of four of them have no acting careers and the other is a stuntwoman, whose lack of inhibition was probably the sole reason she got the acting job as it was.

The impressive gore effects (for a low budget, anyway) are probably the best reasons to watch this film, and things do get very bloody. One jock has his neck torn open (the puddling blood from the wound is worthy of Fulci), another unfortunate victim has her neck snapped, a man's face is torn off along with his head and a final victim loses his brain all over the floor. Effective, yes, at being downright disgusting! Anyhow, the film has quite a fast pace and, although predictable, it kept me watching throughout. I would even go so far as to say that it is fairly enjoyable on a basic level, although not particularly frightening or atmospheric. A sequel followed five years later employing the skills of genre stalwarts David Warner and John Rhys-Davies, which for that fact alone I will be watching.
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Lovecraft... Or Something Like It
gavin694227 October 2012
Back in the 1800s a lady gives birth to a monster. They decide that the baby is too ugly to name, therefore the monster is known as the "Unnamable"...

While this film may only be casually connected to the Lovecraft story whose name it has, that really should not be held against it. Heck, many Lovecraft adaptations are quite loose and the 1930s film "The Black Cat" claims to be based on Poe, when it has no connection whatsoever.

On its merits alone, this is a pretty entertaining and fun film, with a strange narration from one character who talks like a fictional pilgrim, a woman who claims to have an accent but is obviously just deaf, and a monster that is something between a goat and a woman, with demon characteristics mixed in.

All in all, not a bad one... they might have shown the "unnamable" just a bit too much, giving it less mystery than it probably required. I have not yet seen the sequel, but now I am curious to see where it goes...
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Beautifully done but really confusing
slayrrr6666 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"H.P. Lovecraft's The Unnameable" is a fairly enjoyable and entertaining creature feature.


Gathering together in the woods, Randolph Carter, (Mark Kinsey Stephenson) tells fellow students Howard Damon, (Charles Klausmeyer) and Joel Manton, (Mark Parra) about a locally haunted house off in the woods. When one of the students goes missing near the house, Tanya Heller, (Alexandra Durrell) Wendy Barnes, (Laura Albert) Bruce Weeks, (Eben Ham) and John Babcock, (Blane Wheatley) other students on campus, decide to go to the house to look for him, and all they find is a series of different gags set up to scare them as part of a fraternity initiation prank. Finally getting a hand on the situation, they decide to scare them back, they instead find an ancient monster roaming the house unleashed through a series of pagan rituals years ago, and is loose in the house killing them off one-by-one. Realizing the deadly creature's weak point, they try to exploit it in order to get out of the house alive.

The Good News: This one here wasn't all bad, and had a few good parts to it. One of the better features is that it's actually very vague about the presence in the house, one that is very well-played here with several really great ideas to make it happen. By never showing it other than brief, barely-seen or out-of-eyesight views of it off in the distance and only seeing brief views of it's arms or claws, there's a lot of neat tricks that are used to keep it hidden. The incredibly creepy and atmospheric house that is a really perfect setting for the action here, as the winding hallways, wooden decor and dark to non-existent lighting that needs candles to effectively see in the darkness makes for some really great atmospheric shots, and there's no shortage of scenes that really amp up the atmosphere here that, during the middle segment walkthroughs, it gets really creepy because of that. The opening attack in the beginning has a pretty great atmosphere as well, due to it taking place during a raging thunderstorm, which gives it even more points. The attacks in here are also pretty great, since there's some pretty nice bloodshed unleashed during them. There's a heart ripped out of the chest, both arms ripped out, a throat ripped out, having their head bashed repeatedly against the floor spilling out all kinds of blood and another has their neck completely twisted around, among others so this one here has some nice gore to it. The design of the monster is pretty great, having some really nice and healthy features which give it a really imposing feel. The last part that really works for this is the really nice and impressive pacing it has, going from the slow-yet-creepy middle section into the full-on fun of the ending half, which is just chalk-full of fun chases, action and suspense with all the stalking, giving this one some really great material to close out with a big bang. These here are the film's best parts.

The Bad News: This one here didn't really have that many flaws at all to it. The main one here is that the film manages to take a fairly creepy premise, about a demon trapped inside an abandoned house, and turned it into something that is pretty hard to explain about it's plot. There is little explanation of what is going on, since it is never explained why the daughter is a demon, for instance, or why the film has to invent the entire backdrop about the Winthrop family. They really had no need to be in this one, and are just one more inclusion into why this one feels confusing. It also has a hard time keeping the interest-level up from the middle section, despite being really creepy, since there's plenty of times where they're just walking around in the dark with nothing else happening. This happens too many times in the film, and it's quite dull to some. The last flaw in here is the really terrible ending, which, beyond looking really terrible and executed about as well, is just a really bad idea to have tree branches swarm around the monster and drag it away. It's not that impressive, is a weak idea and doesn't do that well standing on it's own. These few flaws are what really hold this one down.

The Final Verdict: This one here wasn't completely bad, and had a lot of good points that help it over it's few small flaws. Really give this one a chance if you're into the cheesy creature features of the time, love the creative staff or in the mood for something that will offer up some chills, otherwise heed caution with it.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity
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Its name is....Larry
dementia1316 February 2005
H.P. Lovecraft's stories as a rule don't film well, and this is no exception. Considering that the original was really more of a short little episode than a story, that shouldn't be a surprise. It winds up being a pretty standard/mediocre monster story. It's a lot like "In the Woods", in that it looks like it's made by first-time filmmakers who don't know what they're doing, but unlike that abortion, this one actually has some things going for it. It's fairly gory, so if that's your thing, you won't be disappointed. The filmmakers wisely keep the monster off-camera for most of the film, and then when they finally reveal it, it's actually not bad. There's not a ton of suspense, though: it's the kind of movie where you know exactly who's going to die and who isn't, and all the characters are so hateful that you'd like to see all of them killed slowly. The dialog is insipid, even by horror standards, and seems to have been written by a confused person with lots of issues. Given how bad the script is, it might not be fair to point out the lousy acting. If you can get past the embarrassing script, it's got some entertaining qualities, but it's best recommended for teenagers.
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Oy. I can't believe I watched the whole movie...
danrogy31 December 2004
I watched this movie on Monsters HD, which usually show the best part right before the movie starts. There wasn't a darn thing on, so I decided to watch. I really have to say this is a class 'A' clunker! The main actor wasn't that bad, but everybody, I mean EVERYBODY else in the entire cast was absolutely atrocious! Right about the time I had re-named it "unwatchable", there was a gratuitous topless sex scene. The girl was hot, so I watched a little bit more. Then came the murders, and they were pretty cool, but WAY too few to hold a feature-length flick. If only there was a bit more plot and A LOT more monster scenes, even the cheezoid acting would've been tolerable. I gave the movie a three because of the boobs, the kills and the monster.
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Good adaption
aaronzombie10 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Pretty suspenseful adaption of the story by H. p. Lovecraft. !!!SPOILERS!!! The film begins in the year 1688 where a warlock is killed off by a demon that is also his daughter. 300 years go by and a group of college students from Miskatonic University stay the night in the house where it happened.

One by one they are killed off by the hideous creature, until Miskatonic's smartest student comes to the rescue. Good story, acting, and a cool theme song that is played during the end credits. ***1/2 out of *****. The sequel is slightly better.
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funny horror trash
dipdatta17 March 2018
Lovecraft is my favorite horror writer but his stories are incredibly hard to translate into films (Dagon is one exception, which is a well made adaptation of Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth). This movie is made with super low budget & most of film shooting happens within a derelict house. The actors were so stupid & direction so bad that I couldn't stop laughing my ass off for most of film. When a monster kills stupid college kids one by one, all rest of the folks do is run around the house in circle & call each other on top of their voice. I guess they thought monster can't hear human screams! The monster itself is so funny that you can tolerate whole 1.5 hours of nonsense just to get a glimpse of it. Oh, did I tell you guys that the monster got breasts? See this movie if you are in for some good laugh.
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Mediocre and boring
Smoreni Zmaj3 June 2017
If I start writing all that's wrong with this movie, it would be faster for you to watch the movie and make your own conclusions than to read my review. So, I'll just make a few notes about what's good in it:

  • Movie is based on H.P. Lovecraft and, although this is one of the worst adaptations, Lovecraft is still Lovecraft, and it is very hard to destroy it so much to be unwatchable.

  • Dancer Katrin Alexandre and team that takes credits for the look of The Unnamable did excellent job and made one of the best monsters in history of cinematography. Unfortunately, it's shown in its full glory just briefly.

  • Few moments of naked Laura Albert <3

Everything else is mediocre and boring, so I recommend this only to the most hardcore fans of Lovecraft and 80's B-production horrors. For the rest of average audience this is just another crap.

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funny due to unnamably bad acting
Lee Eisenberg23 August 2006
I have heard some people say that H.P. Lovecraft's works are unfilmable. I guess that I would say that they did a worthy job with "The Unnamable", but aside from the fact that another movie with a grotesque monster's property getting invaded by horny teens seems a little silly, the people here can't really act (well duh; these movies don't star Katharine Hepburn). Particularly laughable is the line "You're very brave." And if you remember the rules laid out in "Scream", you can guess which people survive here.

So, this is pretty much a way to pass time. For better efforts at filming Lovecraft stories, there's "Die Monster Die!" and "The Dunwich Horror".
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* out of 4.
brandonsites198130 May 2002
Weak adaption turns the classic Lovecraft story into another run of the mill teenagers are in danger flick. It also suffers from a poor creature effects and a laughable ending. Film has a group of college students going to a mansion that local legend has it is haunted by an unnameable creature lurking in the attic. Unrated; Graphic Violence and Nudity.
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