Men are from Mars, women are from crazy
“Violence beyond reason. Victims beyond help.”
Director: Don Gronquist / Writers: Don Gronquist & Reagan Ramsey / Cast: Laurel Munson, J.E. Penner, Sara Ansley, Virginia Settle, Barbara Lusch, John Morrison.
Body Count: 4
Dire-logue: “I’ll be sure to excuse myself when she breaks out the heroin.”
More of a low-key psycho thriller than an out n’ out slasher extravaganza, Unhinged has a reputation as a shitty, best-forgotten throwback to the cheapo post-Friday the 13th days of slasherama.
Teen girlfriends Terry, Nancy and Gloria are off to a rock festival when they crash their car in a rainstorm. Terry wakes up at the secluded mansion house residence of Marion Penrose and her infirm mother, who rattles around in a wheelchair, abusing Marion and going into unexplained trances at the dinner table when she becomes fascinated with the table condiments.
Edith Penrose is a nasty old hag who hates men, and so Marion’s simple brother Carl is restricted to creeping around outside after dark or in the attic. With Gloria out for the count after the accident, only Terry and Nancy have to endure the rantings of the old lady, sit on the floor like children and play dominos while Marion tickles the ivory and feel generally wigged out by the whole thing.
…And who’s that eye belong to staring at the girls while they shower?
Nancy elects to trek into town for help the next day and soon meets the sharp end of a giant sickle. It’s a cool, unexpected murder scene, pretty much out of the blue. One second the girl is climbing up an embankment, then next she’s being slashed at with the uber-scythe by an unidentified rainmacked psycho.
Back at Penrose Towers, Terry tries to find out why Marion puts up with her mother’s shit and there are some loooooong scenes of dialogue, some more night-creeping with the creepy-eye putting in another appearance. Gloria is summarily done away with having hardly appeared in the film at all and Terry begins to grow increasingly suspicious. Needless to say, bodies are found, running and screaming ensues and Terry reprimands the culprit…or does she?
Horrible mom-from-hell, creepy old house, extreme close-ups on a gorping eye – all very Psycho. The handyman is even called Norman Barnes! While there’s only a principal cast of four, it’s evident one of them must be the killer – but who? Could mandrist-mom be toddling free of her wheelchair? Is Carl more dangerous than simple? Or is Marion more repressed than we thought?
The outcome isn’t entirely predictable, in fact it would be pretty clever if so many almanacs and reviews didn’t give it away as the film’s ‘selling point’. Unhinged‘s best asset is the constant sense of dread hanging over proceedings; there’s very little action or standardised horror staples on show, which will undoubtedly make it an endurance test for many viewers, but if you’re into curious C-movies that somehow made it on to the ‘Video Nasties List’ until 2004, then it could leave a bit of an impression.
The film was loosely remade in the UK in 2017.