The Unseen (1980 film)

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The Unseen
The Unseen (1980 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny Steinmann
Produced byAnthony B. Unger
Screenplay byDanny Steinmann
Story byDanny Steinmann
Stan Winston
Thomas R. Burman
StarringStephen Furst
Sydney Lassick
Barbara Bach
Karen Lamm
Music byMichael J. Lewis
CinematographyRoberto A. Quezada
Edited byJonathon Braun
Triune Films (II)
Distributed byWorld Northal (United States)
Les Films Jacques Leitienne (France)
Creswin Distribution (Canada)
Release date
September 12, 1980 (Denmark)
September 1981 (United States)
Running time
94 min
CountryUnited States

The Unseen is a 1980 American horror film directed and written by Danny Steinmann and starring Stephen Furst, Barbara Bach, Sydney Lassick and Lelia Goldoni.


After a hotel reservation mix up, two sisters Karen and Jennifer, and their friend Vicki Thompson, meet a friendly, but shady character named Ernest Keller who is the owner of a small town museum. Ernest convinces the three women into accepting an invitation for cheap room and board at his large farmhouse outside of town where his wife Virginia also lives. Once there, Jennifer and Karen leave for the holiday parade fair which Jennifer, a news reporter, is reporting on. At the festival, Jennifer is met by her soon to be ex-boyfriend, Tony, who gets her to stay behind to talk about their relationship.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Vicki prepares to take a nap in her room, but is attacked by an unseen figure. The unseen eventually begins to pull Vicki into a floor vent when she tries to escape. The grate of the vent slams down on her neck, killing her. At the parade, Karen leaves Jennifer and Tony to talk, and makes her way back to the house alone—where she too is then attacked and killed by the unseen, as it attempts to pull her by her scarf through a vent into the basement. Virginia, who had been in the barn slaughtering a chicken, soon after comes inside to find the bodies of both Vicki and Karen.

When Ernest arrives back at the house, he finds Virginia in shock. At this point, it is revealed through flashbacks that Virginia and Ernest are, in fact, brother and sister, and that Ernest had murdered his own sadistic father over 20 years ago in order to maintain the unnatural relationship. It is also revealed that they have an inbred son named "Junior" who has been kept locked up in the basement; the viewer also learns that Junior is often viciously beaten by Ernest. Ernest then convinces the subservient Virginia, who the viewer now realizes is taken advantage of by Ernest, that Jennifer must be killed upon her return, in order to keep everything under cover.

When Jennifer gets back that evening, she is lured into the basement by Ernest, who then locks her inside. She wanders around looking for a way out, only to stumble upon Karen and Vicki's dead bodies. In a panic, she is confronted by Junior, who turns out to be an intellectually disabled and infantile grown man; at this point, it becomes clear that in all likelihood the Junior did not actually mean to kill Karen and Vicki. Ernest comes into the basement to finish off Jennifer, but Virginia, having had a change of heart, attempts to stop him. Ernest begins attacking Virginia, but Junior, enraged by the sight, intervenes to protect his mother. A fight breaks out between Junior and Ernest, while Jennifer escapes. The fight ends with Ernest gaining advantage over Junior, and knocking him in the head with a broken board containing a sharp, exposed nail, which causes Junior to collapse and die.

Ernest then makes his way outside to hunt down and kill Jennifer with a hatchet. Just as she is about to be attacked, Tony pulls-up in his car, sees the commotion, and runs to help her, but trips and falls due to an existing leg injury. However, at the last possible moment, Ernest is shot in the chest from afar by Virginia and died. The film ends with Virginia in the basement cradling the dead body of Junior.



Filming took place in Santa Paula, Altadena, and Piru, California.[citation needed]


The Unseen was released theatrically in the United States by World Northal in September 1980.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

The film was released for the first time on DVD by Prism on September 3, 2001. It was released on September 5th, the following year by Digital Entertainment. It was later released as a two-disk by Code Red on July 15, 2008. Scorpion Records later released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on August 20, 2013. The company would also release the film on DVD the same day.[1]


The Unseen received little attention from mainstream critics, existing reviews of the film have been mixed. TV Guide awarded the film 2/4 stars, calling it "A vile and perverse horror film that manages to be interesting and compelling nonetheless".[2] Donald Guarisco from Allmovie gave the film a positive review, commending its creepy atmosphere, direction, and performances of Furst, Goldoni, and Lassick. Concluding his review on the film, Guarisco wrote, "The Unseen is a nice surprise for horror fans and well worth rediscovering."[3] Hysteria Lives! awarded the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, calling it "a genuine oddity".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Unseen (1980) - Peter Foleg". AllMovie. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  2. ^ "The Unseen - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV TV Guide. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  3. ^ Guarisco, Donald. "The Unseen (1980) - Peter Foleg". Donald Guarisco. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  4. ^ "THE UNSEEN". Hysteria Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved 21 April 2018.

External links[edit]