14th Oct2014

‘Unhinged’ DVD Review (88 Films)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Laurel Munson, Janet Penner, Sara Ansley, Virginia Settle, John Morrison, Barbara Lusch, Bill Simmonds | Written by Don Gronquist, Reagan Ramsey | Directed by Don Gronquist


There are horror movies that I would watch just because they were named on the Video Nasty list, this is because I’ve always had an interest in these movies, censorship and what it actually took in the 80s to get a film banned. 88 Films have released Unhinged this week, a film that made the “nasties” list even though it was doing well before it fell victim to the moral majority. The questions are just why was it banned, and also more importantly is it any good?

The plot goes something like this: Three college girls are going to a music concert and end up taking a wrong turn. Crashing their car during a rainstorm they find themselves in an old family mansion with an overbearing mother, a dutiful daughter and a dark murderous secret hidden within the walls.

There is nothing much original about Unhinged really, even the name takes more than a passing dose of inspiration from Psycho. The overbearing mother also fits with the Psycho, although then things take a sharp turn. With the mother Mrs. Penrose (Virginia Settle) having a hatred of even the thought of having a man in her house we head into different territory. Unhinged tries to use the Psycho model and add a more exploitative slasher style to the proceedings, even if there are only few killings because of lack of cannon fodder. If anything with the brief scenes of nudity and fairly moderate gore it’s a wonder that this ever made it onto the Video Nasty list. Then again I think when it came to that list not much made sense at all.

88 Films let it be known even before release that the source for their DVD was not high quality and this is definitely the case. To me the poor picture quality [which is better than the previous UK DVD release – Phil] does add a little nostalgia to a film that does feel a little like a grindhouse flick. It tries for cheap scares, the acting leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of the plot has been used in other places (and in a much better way) but in truth a lot of horrors in the early eighties were like this. Unhinged is definitely one that you’ll either watch out of nostalgia or an interest in what this more obscure slasher actually brought to the genre. The answer to that may be not a lot, but at least it is watchable.

Unhinged is a slow burner, which I know isn’t really what you would expect from a slasher, but when there is a limited cast and only three teenagers to be killed off the film has to pace itself. The fact is I’m not going to write this and say that this is a good movie that did a lot for horror in the Eighties because it didn’t. It’s one that I’d probably have rented if it was available and actually enjoyed. It doesn’t deserve it’s history of being a Video Nasty and I’d argue if like me you are interested in your horror history, or just have a need for completeness in your slasher collection, then give this a look. Don’t expect much and you just might enjoy it.

***½  3.5/5

Unhinged is out  now on DVD from 88 Films.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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