Unhinged (1982)
By: Drexl on October 12, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
IndieDVD Ltd (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English 2.0. 80 minutes
The Movie
Director: Don Gronquist
Starring: Laurel Munson, J.E. Penner, Sara Ansley
Screenplay: Don Gronquist, Reagan Ramsey
Music: Jonathan Newton
Tagline: 'Violence beyond reason…victims beyond help.'
Country: USA
AKA: Stark Raving Mad
Whatever the quality of the content, IndieDVD sure know how to sell a DVD via it's packaging. Take a look at that cover art - a splashy pic of a splatter-kill victim graces the front of the sleeve. The back of the sleeve carries more pictures of bloody carnage and the warning/promise that the feature 'contains nudity, violence, language, disturbing themes.' Further blurbs inform the potential purchaser that 'Unhinged outsold Poltergeist before banned.' [sic] and that 'graphic violence and full nudity caused the English Parliament to ban Unhinged in 1985.' Well heck, how could any fan of trash cinema resist handing over their hard-earned after reading that!

Unhinged kicks off in very familiar fashion: a trio of teenage girls are on their way to a music festival when, due to bad weather, their car skids off the road (very unspectacularly) and into a ditch. The car is trashed and the girls are knocked unconscious. When they wake, the girls find themselves tucked up in a creepy mansion stuck in the middle of nowhere and in the care of a shifty middle-aged woman and her obnoxious old bag of a mother. One of the girls is bedridden due to her injuries, forcing the other two to hang around, much to their dislike. Things become even more sinister when, in time-honoured slasher fashion, someone starts to creep around the house, peering through the windows at the girls and spying on them in the shower (accompanied by a soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in a porn flick). Needless to say that the girls are now thoroughly spooked and so one of them decides to take off to the nearest town and find help, while the other stays with their injured friend…

Most of you will have already made up your minds about adding Unhinged to your collection, (possibly by the end of the first paragraph.) While it's hardly high-art, Unhinged is a pretty good example of the trashy splatter pictures that poured onto video-store shelves in the early eighties. The film certainly delivers what the blurb on the back cover promises with the obligatory nudity and violence being present and correct, although it's nowhere near as graphic as the UK's moral guardians made it out to be. Nothing in the whole of Unhinged's 80 minutes of screen-time approaches anything near originality; ideas are blatantly stolen from other genre efforts, the kill scenes are carbon-copies lifted from elsewhere and the 'creepy old house' scenario has been done to death. The final scene, where the killer is finally revealed, even manages to outdo the rest of the film as far as thieving ideas goes. A review elsewhere states that 'one gets the impression this is homage rather than a rip-off.' I can't say I agree but anyone willing to take the plunge and bag this disc can make up their own minds.

The above paragraph may well give the impression that I hated every second of this trashy little movie but it's quite fun in its own tacky little way. It manages to be a little bit creepy in places, thanks to a fairly effective electronic score, and since all the ingredients for a successful slasher pic are present and correct, it's well worth fans of this sub-genre investing a couple of hours of their time in checking this disc out. Sure, it drags in places but the liberal splashes of sleaze, the gratuitous nudity and the occasional bloody kill scene make for a fun time for those wishing to switch off their brain and enjoy the tackiness of it all. A 'guilty pleasure' if ever there was one…
Unhinged is given a decent quality transfer by IndieDVD. The print used is more-or-less free of damage and quite colourful. The transfer lacks detail during the darker scenes and seems a touch dark overall, plus it carries some quite heavy grain. Saying that, it certainly looks better than I expected it to and is therefore an acceptable transfer. I've seen much worse, that's for sure.
As with the video, audio is serviceable - nothing more, nothing less. At times the dialogue seems a little muffled but, other than that, it's an adequate track. Music is clear and the track is free of hiss and distortion.
Extra Features
The disc carries a commentary track from a group of people who 'have nothing to do with the film' calling themselves 'The Detractors'. This mob simply chatter away over the top of the movie, crack a few jokes and generally just take the piss out of the film, giggling like a bunch of school kids during the nude scenes, much to the disgust of the lone female in the group. Some viewers might get a laugh out of it I suppose but I got bored of it after about 20 minutes, so there you have it. Next we have a TV interview featuring the Director and one of the 'stars' of the movie. Not especially interesting but it does contain one priceless moment when the interviewer asks the Director what makes the film so scary and he just sits there in uncomfortable silence. The clip runs for around six minutes. The last bonus on the disc is a few trailers for other films from the same distributor.

Inside the case is a small insert carrying a poster reproduction and some liner notes detailing the film's run-in with the UK Government. The 'powers that be' feared that UK citizens would, (after being suitably corrupted by this film), run amok in the streets with a copy of Unhinged in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, therefore the film was banned during the introduction of the video recordings act and has, until recently, been unavailable in the UK. Happily, the BBFC have now come to their senses and granted the film an uncut release.

The disc is broken into a generous number of chapters but, oddly, I couldn't track down a chapter selection menu. The menu screens are animated and scored. First-time viewers should avoid the 'special features' menu as it shows one of the kill scenes from the movie and, therefore, must be considered a spoiler.
The Verdict
It's hard to really 'recommend' (in the truest sense of the word) anyone pick up this disc as it's undeniably a trash movie and, therefore, a fair percentage of viewers will hate every second of it, finding it unimaginative and tedious. Others, looking for an undemanding slice of sleaze will no doubt gain some entertainment from it due to the frequent nudity and gore. Me? Well I'm pretty glad I picked up this disc as the film is fun in its own tacky little way.

While I was typing up this review, I had a scout around a few on-line retailers for the accompanying cover-art and it seems that this disc is now quite hard to find on-line as very few, if any, etailers now carry it in stock. Anyone wanting to grab a copy may have to resort to eBay (as I did) or bag the newly-released UK disc, (which I haven't viewed and, therefore, cannot comment on how it compares to the US release reviewed here.)
Movie Score
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