UNEARTHLY HARVEST (DVD) Image

UNEARTHLY HARVEST (DVD)

By Admin | April 10, 2004

This film has a fantastic soundtrack. Literally, it’s one of the best horror soundtracks I’ve ever heard. If you told me Danny Elfman or Marco Beltrami had written it, I’d believe you. I’d even buy the soundtrack. Frank Macchia (the composer) is a genius who deserves to be applauded for his great contribution to music and film. Having said that I will proceed to tell you what the rest of the film is like in great detail. But please keep in mind that the music is very good.
The opening credits of the film give the impression that’s it’s going to be some kind of 1950’s, Ed Wood-esque, Lovecraftian horror fest. Sounds great! However, once the opening credits end you see right away that it is in fact more seventies in nature. The clothing, the chairs, the costumes.. It’s all very reminiscent of “Suspiria”. That is good, too. The colors are extreme, from limes to oranges and the lighting is always muted and gray. The film quality is very grainy. Then the story begins…
In a small town/city (it’s never quite clear) two elderly sisters receive a strange visitor named Professor Desmond Samuelson. He’s an odd character. He’s dark, mysterious, and obviously up to no good. With him are his “traveling companions” Steven and Sandra.
The two elderly women, Emily and Martha Emerson, are terribly in debt, so when Desmond proposes that he will pay all the taxes owed on the house in return for letting him and his companions stay in the mansion, the two women agree. Emily and Martha employ a young college student named Robert who instantly finds himself attracted to Sandra, who is young and blond. Their budding romance blossoms under the watchful eyes of Desmond, who is determined to keep them apart. Not only that, but Desmond seems to be involved in some sinister things. A man named Elias (we are never really sure exactly where he comes form or how he is related to anyone in the story) is convinced that Desmond has the Necronomicon, a powerful book of incantations, and that Desmond is of an alien race called the Nephilim that also use black magic. It’s up to Robert to save Sandra and thwart Desmond, but Desmond is powerful and will not be easy to overcome.
This film has a pretty interesting premise. It watches like that horror film made in the seventies with Fred Astaire called “Ghost Story”. The acting starts out so bad that you’re almost not sure if it’s a joke or not. Maybe it’s on purpose? Who knows? It’s too early to tell. You’ll notice that the house, the creepy mansion that they all live in, is not really creepy at all. It’s on a major street with traffic, and it is painted lively pastels on the inside. There is some interesting camera work involving a deck of cards, but it’s not that impressive so far. You will notice, however, that Sandra is wearing one of the worst wigs you’ve ever seen. It’s terrible. Some odd things happen in the plot. Robert stops breathing at one point and is revived through resuscitation by a doctor, who then decides that Robert ought to “go lay down” after having been DEAD for a few minutes due to lack of oxygen. There is no call for an ambulance. Strange? Yes. The actors have an odd way of speaking. You begin to wonder if maybe the director doesn’t speak English that well. Then, Some truly terrible computer generated special effects take place. They are so terrible that you know it has to be on purpose, right?
About halfway through the film you’ll realize that you’re watching a high school play. At least, that’s what it seems like. It’s as if Macbeth were being performed by a ninth grader for extra credit: Good story, great characters, acting that makes you want to faint.
The lead actor (Steven May) has committed an atrocity against all actors everywhere and ought to be given a major citation and fined for his gross ineptitude. Better yet, penalize the acting coach, (hard to believe there was an acting coach) one Steven Alexander, who, if he hasn’t already hung himself after watching this film, should find a new line of work.
The only actors who don’t ruin the film in every way (that is, compared to the other actors they look good, though are really no more than mediocre at best) are George Ferroni as the knowledgeable Elias and Nico Webster as the haunted Sandra. The two best actors in the entire film are the two cops who appear at the end for about ten minutes. It’s a shame they’re only on for such a short time because Glen May and Mark Bircher are funny, believable, and entertaining and at this point the audience is starved for some good acting.
The main idea of the film? (and it’s a good one): seeing with your minds eye, not being fooled by appearances, and being able to decipher between reality and fantasy. Using somewhat cheesy and old story props like the Necronomicon and a Magical Amulet of Perdition, the story unfolds slowly until it reaches the crescendo. At this point, three fourths of the way through the film, the story slowly disintegrates until, like the end of Hamlet, you get the impression that the writer simply didn’t know where to go with story and just wrote anything that came to mind. The special effects are laughable at best, as a cartoon Cthulu-esque creature attacks Desmond and strange colored shapes maneuver themselves around the un-creepy mansion. The (anti) climactic battle between good and evil doesn’t make much sense: something about opening some kind of portal or something to the netherworld. It’s like physics class; I know I was there, but I didn’t understand a damn thing.
Biblical references, black magic, and UFO’s have never been so incoherently or intriguingly mixed before in a film. One point for originality, and half a point for using fog as a creative flesh-eating devise. 1.5 stars overall.

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