Unhinged (1982)

Violence beyond reason, victims beyond help.
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Unhinged - Violence beyond reason, Victims beyond help.

Picture a scenario where a trio of eighties beauties on their way to an out of town jazz concert for a bit of clean eighties fun take a wrong turn while listening to news on the radio about the death of teenage eighties girls in the area and you can pretty much guess where the plot is going. As for ninety percent of Unhinged you have probably guessed correctly... a "trapped in the middle of nowhere slasher" with a few dodgy characters to point the finger of suspicion at. The remaining ten percent is saved for a bizarre "out of nowhere" plot twist and a rather unusual ending.

A minimal cast of low quality actors makes for a low body count but when the deaths do occur the money shot is always quite bloodily wonderful leaving just the right amount to the imagination and plenty for the ocular red colour sensors. Violent deaths, copious boobage plus an adequate amount of creepy pervert stalking from the owner of an iris nevus, makes this quite worthwhile of a viewing. Unhinged is far from original but manages to merge aspects from US slashers such as Black Christmas and the more slashery Italian horrors in a unique manner. A concoction of styles merged into a low-budget yet effective gore and violence sprinkled adventure made Unhinged stand-up and get noticed enough to get entangled in the Video Nasty madness plus seems to have inspired a certain camping film released the year after to touch upon certain taboos that, although explored previously in film before, were not usually rubbed in the viewers face so repugnantly. The majority of the dialog seems like padding and doesn't add much to the story due to its amateurish execution although the simplicity of the story doesn't really require any over-complication as the director, Don Gronquist, simply wants any excuse to hack up a few lovelies on screen with a tiny amount of Cluedo (Clue to any Canadian readers, eh?) to get the viewer to try and work out who murdered who in which room with which implement. It may not have been Colonel Mustard but something definitely occurred in the woods with a scythe.

The movie opens to complete blackness and the dulcet tones of the "Taco Time" jingle, rather than being something sinister this is a radio wake up call... a wake up call to get the three stereotypical slasher-victims on their way to some jazz-filled entertainment. Shy Terry, party girl Nancy and the awkward Gloria for eye-candy have their characters (among other things) exposed in the first seven minutes and this is about all of the character building that happens for the hapless trio. Unfortunately the girls end up driving through a storm and end up in a ditch when a log jumps in front of their speeding car.

Luckily the girls are rescued by the mysterious Penrose family and are looked after in a secluded mansion in the middle of nowhere with no way to communicate with the outside world. What could possibly go wrong?

Despite recycling number of used concepts, Unhinged is still a great little slasher with all the elements required to fit snugly into the genre of eighties schlock horror, from the children's TV inspired Casio keyboard soundtrack to the various methods utilised to dispose of the innocent... and of course no slasher of the era would be worth anything without the required twist ending and although the writers seem to have pulled this twist out at the last minute from the depths of their arses it still makes the film fun and it is definitely worthwhile that the director chose to move forward with this anal extraction method of film making.

The ending is far from a traditional happy slasher ending which also serves its purpose of adding pleasure to a nicely horrific scenario. There are numerous times when the stranded maidens behave completely irrationally but if you are looking for coherent and realistic plots then maybe you should focus on bigger budget movies. Unhinged is simply a brain-off horror entertainment with a few wakey-wakey moments to get the horror area of the brain sparking and the crotch of the horror fan a little frothy.
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