The Curator of Schlock #412 by Jeff Shuster
Why do they always go into the basement?
The Revenging Manta, the ninja vigilante of downtown Orlando, said he had a surprise for me. A couple blocks from his apartment was a secret garage and inside that garage was a mint green Kawasaki Fury with matching sidecar. We would soon cruise to the Museum of Schlock in style. The bike helmet he gave me to wear was pink with Hello Kitty patterns all over. I asked if there was another helmet.
He said no.
—To be continued.
Tonight’s movie is 1981’s The Unseen from director Danny Steinmann. It stars Barbara Bach in the lead. She was James Bond’s love interest in The Spy Who Loved Me and is married to Ringo Starr. And here she’s in a movie about a thing that lives in the basement of an old house and kills unsuspecting victims in horrifying ways.
The movie starts out with Jennifer Fast, a local television reporter, leaving her house in a huff due to a break up with her live-in boyfriend, Tony Ross (Douglas Barr). Jennifer heads to Solvang, CA to shoot a Danish festival with her crew, Karen (Karen Lamb) and Vicki (Lois Young). When they get to Solvang, all of the hotels are booked, but they run into a gross toad of a man named Ernest (Sydney Lassick). He offers them cheap room and board at a historic farmhouse that he and his wife, Virginia (Leila Goldoni), maintain.
Ernest is a character I’d like to punch dead in the face. He reminds of the type of character that would pop up in a 1970s Disney family feature. I didn’t see any Disney credits to Sydney Lassick’s name, but he frequently guest-starred on shows such as Baretta, Hawaii Five-O, and Eight is Enough. He plays a real creep in this movie. He has a verbally abusive relationship with his mousy wife, Virginia, who looks like she’s about to collapse from stress from taking care of the estate.
This old house has some dark secrets. Ernest is tormented by memories of his abusive father. There’s a sequence where Ernest revisits a conversation he had with his late father. We hear his father yelling at a teenage Ernest over the fact that he got his sister pregnant. Ewww. Then his father orders Ernest to pull down his pants so he can ensure something like that never happens again. Then young Ernest kills his father before he can disembowel him.
Unfortunately, this whole sequence of events is told through voice over and not through a flashback where you’d have actors playing a young Ernest and his father. So it falls kind of flat. Oh, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Virginia is actually Ernest’s younger sister and not his wife. And what of their offspring? Could the malformed child be living in the basement of the house, waiting to pick off the house guests one by one?
I don’t know. The movie was mostly filler until the last half hour where Barbara Bach is trapped in a basement with a full grown man with the mind and demeanor of a baby, a full grown baby with violent tendencies. I have to be honest, I felt kind of oily after watching this one. I felt bad for the monster.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, episode 496, episode 545, episode 546, episode 547, episode 548, and episode 549) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.