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directed by Don Gronquist
USA 1982

 

Oregon college students Terry (Laurel Munson), Gloria (Barbara Lusch, CRIMINAL ACT), and Nancy (Sara Ansley) hit the road for a music festival and get lost along the back roads. Things get worse when they lose control of the car in the rain and crash into a ditch. Gloria is badly hurt and they end up taking shelter in the spooky mansion of spinster Marion (Janet Penner, HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY) and wheelchair-bound Mrs. Penrose (Virginia Settle). Hiking through the expansive woods where several young girls have mysteriously disappeared seems like the preferable option for Nancy after a tense dinner between manhating Mrs. Penrose and her put-upon daughter - as well as being woken in the night by the sounds of a man breathing "like he was doing himself" - so she leaves Terry to endure more of the Penroses' hospitality (Gloria, at least, gets to sleep through it all) and learn about their disturbing family history as a lurking presence sharpens his arsenal of scythes, hatches, and machetes for a stormy night to dismember.

Full of atmosphere - thanks to wintry Pacific Coast photography, the use of the Pittock Mansion location, and a Tangerine Dream-on-steroids synthesizer score - UNHINGED is unfortunately more often dull than suspenseful as an "old dark house"/slasher hybrid. While it certainly delivers the splatter, the acting ranges from good (Penner) stilted (the girls) to downright horrid (Settle), making for a lot of stilted exposition amidst some atmospheric passages and violent-but-brief deaths. The surprise twist, though it seems obvious in light of the dated psychosexual backstory plotting, is effectively staged but it may be too-little-too-late even in a film this short. UNHINGED achieved notoriety because of its banning as a "Video Nasty" in the UK (its subsequent releases have not been subject to cuts), and its VHS release was relatively scarce in the USA, but it's ultimately more of a slasher curio than a cult obscurity.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 1988 (America - VHS release)

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                           DVD Reviews

 

DVD Comparison:

Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and for the Screen Caps!

(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Brentwood

Region 0 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 0 - PAL
88 Films
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:19:39 1:16:03 1:16:03
Video

1.33:1 Open Matte format
Average Bitrate: 5.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Open Matte format
Average Bitrate: 5.78 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.70:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.76 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Brentwood

 

Bitrate:

 

88 Films (Fullscreen Version)

 

Bitrate:

 

88 Films (Widescreen Version)

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Brentwood

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Comedy Commentary by 'The Detractors'
• Vintage TV interview with Donald Gronquist (4:3; 5:43)

DVD Release Date: 22 March 2005
Amaray

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 4:3 Fullscreen and 16:9 (1.66:1) widescreen versions
• Audio Commentary by director Donald Gronquist (both transfers)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:54)
• 88 Films Trailer Park

 

DVD Release Date: 13 October 2014
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.70:1

Edition Details:
• see left

 

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The negatives and print material for UNHINGED no longer seems to be available from official sources, so 88 Films has had to contend with an existing PAL tape master (Code Red in the United States also had to use a tape master for their double bill release with Gronquist's MURDER RUN which is only available direct from their Big Cartel site). The UK disc offers both 1.70:1 anamorphic and 1.33:1 fullscreen transfers, although the widescreen version is an upscale of the same tape master. The widescreen compositions are occasionally ruinous to the compositions, suggesting that either the original master is slightly cropped or the filmmakers did not take theatrical matting into account (the film did not garner a US theatrical release, but surely that was the goal in 1982). The fullscreen version is preferable on this disc. The Brentwood disc - which is a direct port of the earlier Indie DVD release - has near identical framing to the fullscreen UK transfer but is generally darker with a reddish bias and a cruddier encode. All three encodes evince interlacing artifacts so viewers would best let their TV's settings deal with it.

While the Brentwood disc provides a truly awful "comedy commentary", the UK disc features a director's commentary (I'm not sure if it's the same as the one Gronquist contributed to the aforementioned Code Red release). Gronquist discusses how the Paramount deal to distribute his first film MURDER RUN fell through when Warner released BADLANDS and how UNHINGED came about as a bar bet with his Oregon filmmaking contemporaries (including Gus Van Sant) to make an fully-ensured and scored 35mm feature film for $100,000. He discusses having to get insurance through Lloyds of London to shoot in the Pittock Mansion for a fee of thirty-five dollars per day (De Laurentis would have to pay $30,000 to use the location for 1993's BODY OF EVIDENCE), the production value of the existing decor and props, and shooting from five in the evening until seven in the morning since the mansion had tours during the day. He reveals that some of the credits are joke names to make the production seem bigger than the actual ten-person crew, but he also cites the subsequent careers of some of them: assistant camera Eric Alan Edward would shoot Gus Van Sant's MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, EVEN COW GIRLS GET THE BLUES, and TO DIE FOR, as well as Larry Clark's KIDS and more recent mainstream tripe like LOVE HAPPENS and KNOCKED UP, caterer Melissa Stewart would become production designer Missy Stewart (who would also work on Van Sant's earlier films and more recently titles like LEGALLY BLONDE and PARANOIA), while the gore effects were created by Jennifer Scoutten (who had just worked on SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE for Roger Corman). There are plenty of dead spots and play-by-lay, and it might have worked better as a selected scenes commentary.

The British release also drops the vintage TV interview with the director, but that's not a bad thing since he's particularly camera shy and unprepared. The only other extras are a theatrical trailer - that makes the film seem more exciting than it really is - and trailers for ten other recent and forthcoming 88 Films titles: THE CORPSE GRINDERS, TWO MOON JUNCTION, THE TOXIC AVENGER, HIDEOUS! , BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE DEVILS, ROBOT WARS, DOLLMAN, THE DOLL SQUAD, CASTLE FREAK, and SLICE AND DICE.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Brentwood - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. 88 Films (Fullscreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. 88 Films (Widescreen Version) - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

88 Films

Sound:

Draw

Extras: 88 Films
Menu: Draw

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Brentwood

Region 0 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 0 - PAL

 



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