Writer, director, producer Chad Ferrin is a student of exploitation cinema and it shows, as he takes a page directly from the masters: If you can't make it good, then damn sure make it memorable. There's so much disgustin' stuff in Unspeakable (1999, 81 minutes) that not even a 48-hour holiday marathon of It's A Wonderful Life can fully sanitize its memory. Love it or puke during it, that's how a $20,000 picture with a sketchy cast and hackneyed script can actually be seen and talked about all over the world, including the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie: A nuclear family melts down when they're torn apart by a tragic car accident. Jim Fhelleps (Roger Cline) survives the crash, but his teenage daughter is killed. His wife is horribly disfigured and left in a twitching vegetative state. Fhelleps is damaged more severely than he first appears, as it's soon revealed that beneath his inner fantasy of a picture-perfect relationship with is beloved daughter dwells an unspeakable truth. A chance sexual encounter flings him into a homicidal rage where he repeatedly slams a prostitute's face into a glass coffee table until it shatters in a bloody mess. Her corpse then speaks to him in his daughter's voice, pleading with him to save her from what a rotten place HEAVEN has turned out to be. This means MANY more whores must die before daddy can figure out what to do. To pad things out, we've got three or more tangential story lines, two with the same actor in different roles. Timothy Muskatell plays both a fecalphiliac redneck nurse who diddles Fhelleps' wife and a Scorsese-inspired pimp who babbles incessantly like he's in a Tarrantino flick. Plus, we've got a homosexual priest who looks like he's smuggling Michelins under his robe and gets his jollies smacking young boys with his crucifix.
Notables: Two breasts. 15 corpses. Pigeon talk. Fast mo. One rat. Wino kicking. Spitting. Bottle to the face. Invalid diddling. Gratuitous urination. Montezuma's revenge. Mangled ear. Zany accents. Knife swallowing.
Quotables: Hooker utters fateful words, "Well, you don't look so scary to me." Molester sweet talks his catatonic victim, "You know why I like you, Alice? You're not like all the other women. You don't yap, yap, yap all the time -- telling me different things like, 'Barry, whose number is this?! Barry, is that perfume on your collar?! Barry, where have you been?!' You're pure bliss. That's what you are."
Time codes: Daddy emotes (5:00). Would-be starlet bathed in blood (19:30). Poster for the immortal I Spit On Your Grave (59:35). Barry's last house call (1:20:00).
Audio/Video: The widescreen (1.85:1) transfer suffers from squirming digital jags and pronounced grain throughout, most notably during night scenes. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix comes close to masking the sometimes tiny quality of the source audio. The admirable score by Jeff McCusker and Nick Smith is well showcased.
Extras: Frankensteinian audio commentary by actor Timothy Muskatell and director Chad Ferrin. At the 35 minute mark, an audio goof creates some confusion and static, forcing the director to re-record portions of the track. Meanwhile, he's anything but dispassionate and his favorite crutch words seem to be variants of F@#%. In fact, Mr. Ferrin lashes out at B-director Brett Piper whom he feels didn't properly embrace "the genre" during a director's commentary on Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. On that level it's entertaining if not informative. But we DO learn about who diddled who behind the scenes and which filmmakers Ferrin thinks are cool. Other extras include a short film by Ferrin called Bloodbath (with optional commentary). A brief standup interview with the director and a comedic sketch complete with a Hollywood scumbag getting beaten to death with is own severed arm. Trailers and the usual doodads.
Final thought: Occasionally as arresting and nauseating as a slow-motion highway disaster. But only a select few will truly embrace this as entertainment. Rent it.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.