The Unseen (1980)

*. The Unseen. They didn’t spend a lot of time coming up with a title for this one, did they? I guess Junior is unseen for most of the movie because he’s locked up in the basement, and indeed Stephen Furst is credited as playing “The Unseen,” but . . . that’s about it.
*. But then, let’s face it: they didn’t put a lot of work into this one period. Basically there’s this weird couple keeping Junior in the basement and when a trio of young women spend the night at their house Junior, who can travel through the building’s vents, gets out and kills a couple of them.
*. The movie is a bit of an oddity. Junior apparently kills the women by accident, since he’s not really a bad guy. And it’s never clear why he’s being kept in the basement. It’s a big enough house, in a remote location, so you’d think they’d let him out every now and then.
*. Maybe it’s all because Junior’s dad is crazy (and Sydney Lassick, I want to say, is actually pretty good in the part). At least there’s a wild American gothic back story inolving incest and patricide that would suggest as much.

*. The girls are all winsome and disposable, but at least not as hateful as the usual crop of bodies in a dead teenager movie. Why is it raining out at the end? To get Barbara Bach’s blouse wet. But she’s in the basement! No problem. Where there’s a will, and a leering audience, there will be a way. In the event, she’ll be degraded even further when she escapes, having to drag herself through a field of mud.
*. Written and directed by Danny Steinmann, who didn’t want his name on it so he’s credited as Peter Foleg. His previous movie had been a hardcore porno called High Rise, where he used the alias Danny Stone. Apparently he was upset about cuts that were made to this film that took out a lot of the scares. I doubt anything of value was lost. But the MPAA also did a job on his Friday the Thirteenth: A New Beginning, and he kept his name on that one. So go figure.
*. Aficionados of Grade Z chum may find something in this. I thought it was very dull as well as nonsensical. Lassick copes manfully with a ridiculous script but everyone else appears to be struggling. I’d advise taking a pass unless this is your kind of thing.

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