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John’s Horror Corner: Unhinged (1982), a forgettable exploitation slasher film.

February 12, 2020

MY CALL: An early slashersploitation movie that packs good ideas, but backs them with not one ounce of worthy execution. MORE MOVIES LIKE Unhinged: For more rural outings-gone-wrong, try The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Wrong Turn (2003), Frontiers (2007), The Damned (2013) and Tusk (2014). Also, maybe try the remake of Unhinged (2017), not that it’s any better than this original.

After crashing their car on a rural road in the woods, three college girls awaken in the wealthy Ms. Penrose’s remote home. Now house guests of the elderly Ms. Penrose and her daughter, the girls uncomfortably witness the psychological abuse imposed from elder mother to daughter. Their Bates-ian toxic relationship is palpable and the girls are stuck until their care can be recovered.

The atmosphere tends toward Black Christmas (1974) as a stalker skulks around, spying on the women, heavily panting in the darkness. The girls catch onto this fast but have little action to take—the mansion has no phones, they have no car, and they’re nowhere near the next town.

The pacing is slow, with only one death in first 60 minutes. The killer uses a scythe and garden sheers (and other stabbing implements) and the death scenes are quite bloody, but the killing action occurs off-screen. So the death scenes are nothing special, nor are they intense.

Leading a generally inexperienced cast, writer and director Don Gronquist (The Devil’s Keep) didn’t get much work after this film. But I’ll give him some credit. He tried… emulating the peeping Tom’s eye through the light of the door slit from Black Christmas (1974), the Leatherface-esque mouth-breathing, and the Psycho-inspired (1960) genderplay. The acting, however, is devastatingly wooden despite clear attempts to keep the dialogue thoughtful.

This film was banned in the United Kingdom, but one may struggle to discern the logic behind that—unless it was to spare us from the acting. Perhaps because this classy flick opens with a very revealing (and long) shower scene, and yet another equally long and graphic shower scene later. There’s almost never a “good” reason to include a shower scene. But these don’t even stage any stalking, peeping, suspenseful shots or death scenes. They’re just… there.

I often enjoy watching older and less popular horror. But this entry simply had nothing to offer. The kills weren’t fun or shocking, the twist was weakly delivered (although interesting in concept), and the movie never really had its own style or feel to it. Shame.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2020 4:09 am

    Actually the film this most reminds me of is Three On A Meathook, an early effort from William Girdler.


  1. John’s Horror Corner: Unhinged (2017), an equally lame remake of the forgettable 1982 exploitation slasher film. | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: The House on Sorority Row (1982), another forgettable “classic” slasher movie without one good on-screen death scene. | Movies, Films & Flix

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