THE UNNAMABLE (1988) - Wow, talk about lazy filmmakers - they couldn't even be bothered to come up with a title. Oh, that is the title! Published in 1925, Lovecraft's short story "The Unnamable" has Randolph Carter terrorizing friend Joel Morton with a graveyard spook legend about an unnamable monster that haunts a nearby house in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. The duo are subsequently attacked by this beast but survive with enough wounds that tell their tale. It is a quick 7-page story that will leave you wondering, "How the hell did someone turn this into a movie?" Surprisingly, director-writer Ouellette does faithfully adapt this short story as everything that happens it happens in the movie. It is just that he needed to add another 80 minutes to bring it up to feature length.
Tanya: "Why do boys like Wendy so much? Is it her big boobs?"
Howard: "Uh, yeah, I guess so."
Perhaps the single best thing about this film (and the subsequent sequel) is lead the performance of Mark Kinsey Stephenson as Randolph Carter. A recurring character that appeared in 7 Lovecraft stories, Carter is pretty much a surrogate for the author himself. Stephenson, who somewhat resembles Lovecraft, plays Carter as kind of a nerdier version of Jeffrey Combs' Herbert West. He has the same strain of dogged intensity, but without the arrogance or desire to kill. His steadfast geekiness also reminds me a bit of Don Knotts in THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN (1966). So Jeffrey Combs mixed with Don Knotts - wrap your head around that. The slightly odd performance just really seems to fit in Lovecraft's world. And the film seemed to do well enough that Ouellette was able to get a sequel financed a few years later. So we then turn our attention to...
H.P. LOVECRAFT'S THE UNNAMABLE II: THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER (1993) (aka THE UNNAMABLE RETURNS) - Try saying that five times fast. Yes, that is how the full title for this sequel reads on screen. And, believe it or not, I actually enjoyed this more than the first one. Director Ouellette brings back his two leads and rightly begins his sequel mere hours after the first one ended (a trick I tend to love).
Following the slaughter at the house, Randolph Carter (Mark Kinsey Stephenson) and Howard (Charles Klausmeyer) notify the police of their horrible night. Surprisingly, the cops aren't shocked by this carnage ("Remember what happened in Dunwich," says the corner) and try to keep a lid on the happenings. But while Howard (whose is inexplicably renamed from Howard Damon to Eliot Damon Howard!?!) is in the hospital recovering from his wounds he has a visitation from Winthorp's ghost that warns that the unnanamble beast is still still alive and in the tunnels under the house. So Carter, Howard and mythology expert Professor Warren (John Rhys-Davies) head back to the graveyard to try and kill the beast once and for all. Of course, they screw up and release the monster's human half Alyda Winthorp (Maria Ford) and this leads to the monster half (former Penthouse Pet Julie Strain, completely hidden under the monster costume) hunting Carter, Howard and Alyda all over the campus of Miskatonic University.
This one hit VHS in 1993 via Prism Entertainment and I'm sure it was a success. By far the best thing to come out of it is this video promo featuring Stephenson doing the hard sell of the film for distributors. Now which one of you will confess as to having written him a fan letter?