The Summer of Lovecraft: The Unnamable Returns (1992)

unnamableVHS

AKA The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter

Directed by Jean-Paul Ouellette
Starring Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, John Rhys-Davies, Julie Strain and David Warner

The Story

Well, we covered “The Unnamable” in the previous entry, but this one also claims to be based on “The Statement of Randolph Carter.” Written in 1919, but published in 1920, this story is a fictional rendering of a dream Lovecraft had in which he and his friend Samuel Loveman were exploring a mysterious underground crypt. There’s not an enormous amount to it — it’s all atmosphere and menace — but if you remember the previous film, you’ll remember that the filmmakers didn’t let the story’s brevity stop them.

summerattemp2

The Film

Although this film was made a few years later, it takes place immediately after the events of the first movie. Convinced of the reality of the creature’s threat, Randolph Carter decides to investigate the old Winthrop place further, despite opposition from Chancellor Thayer (David Warner). He enlists the help of Professor Harley Warren (John Rhys-Davies). Meanwhile, the previous film’s other hero, Eliot Howard — he was called Howard Damon last time — is having nightmares and visions of Joshua Winthrop, who hasn’t changed his name despite the fact that he’s a completely different dude.

Warren, Carter and Howard head to the tunnels beneath the old cemetery to check things out. They use the intercom gimmick from the story, although we also follow the pair as they explore the tunnel. They find some old carvings suggesting a pre-human origin and take the opportunity to name-check a bunch of Lovecraft stories, including “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Whisperer in Darkness.”

And then, just like that, they find the creature, bound by roots which I assume are related to the whole tree-spirit thing from the first film. Warren legit sets up a portable lab bench in the caverns and examines a blood sample from the creature, speculating that “this is quantum physics” and that a human woman and a monster are sharing the same space simultaneously — and that the creature might move out. I can see where this is going already.

So zip, zap, they inject the monster with some insulin and the demon leaves in the form of some bright blue lines, leaving behind … Alyda Winthrop, in the form of Maria Ford, star of Stripped to Kill II and many more. Nude, naturally, except for her long, flowing hair. However, this also has the effect of releasing a souped-up version of the creature, now loacking any human element (Julie Strain, of all people). It squelches Warren up, then goes on to murder a cop. Our heroes flee, accompanied by Tasteful Nudity I mean Alyda. Wacky nude hijinks ensue.

As Howard, Carter, Alyda and their other pals round up some professors to help them study Alyda, the creature goes on a campus rampage with the cops in turn pursuing it. Alyda tells Carter she loves him, which makes sense since she’s only known him for about 30 minutes. On longer acquaintance it would be unlikely. The cops continue to hunt the critter, which has killed some police officers. Chase chase, corridors corridors. Carter and Alyda do some spells out of the Necronomicon, with Alyda correcting his pronunciation as a form of flirting. The creature flies around on wires and just looks unconvincing.

Alyda merges with the creature again or something? But Carter interrupts the mystical energy with a chair, which causes the monster to overheat and splode. A chair! If only they’d thought of that at first. Carter professes his love for Alyda, a girl he has literally just met and has exchanged maybe five minutes of actual conversation with, about half of which was her going “Car-ter!” But anyway without the creature’s magic to keep her alive she ages and dies. Carter sits in his room — which is fucking nice, by the way; it’s nicer than any room I ever lived in at university and I lived in a spacious set in Cambridge’s oldest college building — and contemplates the eternal verities while a synth noodles in the background. Howard looks at the fire with him as if to cover the fact that he didn’t do a got-damn thing the whole movie. The End.

What’s wrong with it?

It is about 20 minutes too long, and most of that is Alyda saying “Car-ter!” It has a whole shitload of futile chasing with expendable cop mooks. The chair is something of an anticlimax.

What’s right with it?

Well, for most of the beginning and the end it rollicks along at a great old clip. It has a lot of stuff going on for most of the time, and even the idea of its tonal shifts is kind of laudable.

It’s also definitely better made than its predecessor, with more locations, more action, more characters and some utility character actors.

How bad is it really?

It’s not great. After an eventful first half, the movie settles in for some who-cares chase stuff, having front-loaded most of the actual plot needed to resolve its conflict. It gets rid of its two best actors before the halfway mark and leaves us relying on Stephenson (who’s OK) and Ford (who I don’t want to be cruel to — she’s not bad, it’s just there isn’t much to the part). And — like so many of the other films in this project — it builds up to a climax that is desperately underwhelming.

It could be better — in particular, you could cut about 15 minutes of the cops bumbling around and Carter flirting and turn this bad boy in at a lean hour and a half without losing anything of value. It’s not that I’m against murders, I just think they’re kind of by-the-numbers here, as though the filmmakers thought they had to have them.

Best bit (if such there is)?

I quite like the credits, which show the names on pages of the fakey Necronomicon.

Also, it’s nice to see David Warner doing his thing, talking absolute bollocks with gravitas and intensity.

What’s up with…? 

  • Carter’s room? Luxury!
  • Alyda’s voice? Somehow that’s what snaps me about her being from the 1700s.
  • Professor Warren going from zero to “monsters exist” in moments?

Ratings

Production values ‘s all right. Maybe an early-Buffy level? 11
Dialogue and performances 50/50. Veteran character actors, OK lead, corpses-in-waiting, “Car-ter?” 14
Plot and execution A bit of a mixed bag; some good ideas and a whole lot of snooze. 14
Randomness Higher than the last one! Quantum physics, dead languages, body-swapping! 16.
Waste of potential The last one was a bad bet, and this is a sequel to it. 8

Overall 63%

Advertisements

One thought on “The Summer of Lovecraft: The Unnamable Returns (1992)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s