|Available at Amazon.com|
Whenever you get any kind of horror film that has multiple stories in it these days, your mind will automatically backtrack to other films and television shows. It could be The Twilight Zone, or Tales From The Darkside, or even Tales From The Crypt. Taking something and making it look like a “made for TV movie” and not really having it be scary but just semi creepy? Then you better dig up Robert Stack to host it.
Dr. Sol Rubin is our host for the evening as the world-renowned psychiatrist introduces his audience to three tales that are intertwined in some way and are meant to show how fear inhabits all of our lives. It can come in a physical form or in a mental capacity and sometimes even a combination of the two, but it is there for all of us. Dr. Rubin takes everything seriously and does not tread lightly when it comes to his patients. Even if it means telling their private matters to the entire world.
The first tale takes us inside the mind of Frankie The Squirrel. Everyone has some kind of vice that could take over their lives and well-being if they allowed it to. For Frankie, his vice happens to be a gambling problem he simply can’t shake. He isn’t liked by many people and keeps rather to himself. One might call him a loser, which wouldn’t be absurdly inaccurate either. Frankie realizes that his life is in shambles and thinks it can’t possibly get much worse, but a deal made with the devil proves his thoughts wrong.
Secondly you’ll meet a young boy by the name of John who has an inexplicable fear of funeral homes. It could be anything from the sheer beauty they possess from being so clean and pristine at all times; rather intimidating. Or perhaps it’s the feelings of death all around. Young John soon gets put into a predicament that will have him facing his fear in ways he never could have expected or imagined.
Finally you’ll meet James Patullo. He is a loving father and one that would do anything for those that are due to carry on his family’s lineage. But guilt can eat a person from the inside out and tear one down before it ever shows on their face or in their personalities. James must learn to live with certain things and that includes losing his only child on Christmas Eve. Dr. Rubin lets us into the lives of these patients to see that life is not always what it’s cracked up to be. And to also let us see that perhaps our problems may be a lot more trivial then all we make them out to be.
Films that take the concept of fear and try to dissect it in different stories have been done countless times. The Unknown Trilogy is no different in its execution and what it is trying to accomplish then The Twilight Zone, or Tales From The Darkside, and Tales From The Crypt except that it doesn’t get the same feeling across. The effort is there and the tales deliver some true to life stories of dread and fear, but they just don’t conjure up enough real fright to scare you as you watch.
You’ll get a sense here and there of uncomfortability, but not much more. Think back to the days of Unsolved Mysteries. The stories were creepy and eerie, but never truly scared you. If you were like me, then it was Robert Stack’s freaky demeanor and that horrifying as hell theme music that really got your blood curdling. Dr. Rubin just doesn’t deliver the same feelings of terror that Stack did and therefore never really gets things rolling along too fluidly. And while the stories are somewhat entertaining; I believe the filmmakers main intention was to deliver big on the scares, but they never seem to come.
The film is shown in 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks just like Unsolved Mysteries used to. Honestly, I don’t mean to keep harping on that show (even though it is my favorite ever), but that’s what this film looks like. It looks as if it was made for TV and rather cheaply at that, but don’t think that makes it look horrible because it doesn’t.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and comes through just fine. All dialogue can be heard clearly at any time while the somewhat carnival-ish music is never too loud and doesn’t overpower.
Trailers – Forget About It, Heavens Fall, and Niagara Motel
You ever start to watch a film and really want to enjoy it yet the longer it goes on, you find that you simply can’t? That is where I stand with The Unknown Trilogy and I’ll tell you why. I wanted to like it so much and the trailer actually makes you want to see it more then anything. It has some cool music, eerie tales, and just an all around creepy feel, but for everything it does right, it does two things wrong. Yet I continued watching the film hoping it would improve with the next tale and then the next, but it wasn’t meant to be. Still, points are given for trying but it is really hard to accomplish something that The Twilight Zone did perfectly over forty years ago and did it flawlessly on its first try. The DVD isn’t helped at all by only including the trailer and a few random previews for films I’ve never even heard of, so this one was destined for below mediocrity. Shame, some of the best ideas never get the effort that could make them great.
Allumination Filmworks presents The Unknown Trilogy. Directed by Brian Cavallaro. Starring Sal Mazzotta, Robert Costanzo, Johnny Williams, and Abe Vigoda. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: January 29, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.