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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Unhinged (1982)

I've picked this flick up as part of my quest to check out as many of the notorious 'Video Nasties' as I can, from the list of previously banned films that caused a massive amount of controversy in the 1980s (See my review of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide for more on this). I had heard that this, one of the lesser-known titles on the list, was a pretty standard slasher, but upon discovering a copy at the right price, thought I should add it to the shenanigans here.

It's an odd one, as even though you know you're watching a film, you can't really make out any discernable script, story, acting, direction or tension throughout much of it. The story is basic (well, basic now, but it was still kinda new at the time)- three pretty girls on their way to a jazz festival (excuse my tone, but since when did pretty 1980s girls like JAZZ?) end up in an accident and must take shelter in a creepy mansion populated by a strange family and their staff. Of course, it's only a matter of time before some lunatic starts running rampant with a scythe, and we see why Unhinged ended up on the DPP's Video Nasties list.

The cast are about as wooden as it gets, and stumble over the most simple of lines, the three lead girls seem to be little more than eye candy (considering the amount of time they spend out of their clothes), the plot is full of every spooky house and slasher cliché in the book and so on, yet the film is still fun to watch. There's a great atmosphere to this nice little slasher, exploitative as it is, and a lot of this atmosphere is down to the gloriously tacky synth soundtrack.

The film is packed with nice little tense scenes where the direction is stronger and the score is used well to build that tension further. When the gore comes, it's handled well considering the budget, and while offering little that many horror fans won't have seen before, Unhinged is a worthy addition to the horror connoisseur and completist's collection. It has everything the classic slasher needs- atmosphere, gore, skin, violence and a script it took five minutes to write, delivered by a cast that had only glanced at each page once.

Granted, it's about as cheesy as it gets, but the film is a great reminder of an age when horror films relied on more than jump cuts. Indeed, when the first bloody scene arrives, it has quite an impact after you've spent half an hour getting to know these cardboard-cutout characters, and is very effective. Then there's that notorious ending, which really does come out of nowhere and leaves you a little confused, but entertained nonetheless! Unhinged is a Video Nasty which isn't all that nasty, but it's entertaining and good late-night viewing for the discerning fan of old-school slasher films.

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