Starring: BROOKE ADAMS, JEFF HAYENGA, JAMES KAREN K CALLAN, RICK DEAN, KATHY GRIFFIN, LISA KUDROW, JANE CAMERON
Written by: John Brancato (as Henry Dominic), Michael Ferris (as Henry Dominic)
Directed by: Rodman Flendor
Original Year of Release: 1991
Distributor: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Run Time: 1hr, 23min
Way back when, I worked at a Video Store. It was glorious. I knew that even back then as I got to take home 6 movies a night. Yes, 6! How could you possibly watch 6 movies in one night? Well, I certainly tried. One of the best things about working at a Video Store was diving into the cornucopia of Horror titles. Love of horror films was not something that was passed down to me by my dad or an older brother. I literally got my horror start by putting the movies back on the shelf. Faces of Death goes here, Freddy's Dead goes over there, Frankenhooker, the one with the talking box, is right over here. I never did take Rodman Flendor's The Unborn home. Why? It was a new title and those were taboo to take home if they were on the new releases wall. I could pay to take The Unborn home, but why do that when I have Friday the 13th Part III, IV, and V to watch before I start my shift tomorrow night?
Here we are years later and The Unborn is being released in a 2K scan by my favorite distributor, Scream Factory. As a film major in college, I literally wrote a term paper on the "fear of pregnancy" in cinema and The Unborn never came up. Perhaps it was too soon after the film's release to get mentioned in books or articles that I would have cited as sources, but outside of Rosemary's Baby and the It's Alive Trilogy (see AFJ's review HERE), The Unborn was quickly forgotten. Does it deserve its obscurity? No, and yes.
Virginia (Brooke Adams) and Brad (Jeff Hayenga) are an older couple that has failed to conceive. Actually, you might not have any remorse for Virginia because the character talks about trying to get pregnant for all these years while she drinks and smokes right in front of you. This makes you wonder, in 1991, do we know about what alcohol and nicotine could do to the body? The answer is yes. So after she and her husband go to this new fertility doctor (James Karen) with a radical new procedure and 90% success rate which produces a vicious super baby, you kind of think Virginia got what she deserved. Instantly that can set you on the defensive. Why does that matter? Because, as the audience, we aren't on Virginia's side. You lose that something/ someone to care about in the film. This could be the point since it is a horror movie, but you do care about Rosemary Woodhouse in Rosemary's Baby. John P. Ryan's concerned father in It's Alive is also a plight we can sympathize with. So with each stereotypical scene (Virginia gets multiple warnings, her husband was in on it, her turn of heart at the end, etc), we start to root for the one thing that had no say in this predicament, the baby.
The question now becomes, why watch this then? Our lead, Brooke Adams, who is better known for the likes the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone really is putting on a one-woman show here. Outside of James Karen (the doctor), the rest of the cast is completely forgettable. Adams brings the fear and terror and even manages to make you cringe a few times as the baby inside her starts to grow. There are two crazy early performances by a pre-Friends Lisa Kudrow and a substantial part by Kathy Griffin. Griffin's performance is almost risque for the time as you did not see too many lesbian couples, in films, who were trying to have a baby.
The 2K scan of the original film elements, in my opinion, hurt the film. There are some movies that should be dirty and bit fuzzy because it hides a few things. With a 2K scan, we can see just how bad the creature special effects are as well as the make-up lines on many of the actors' faces. As for where this places in the realm of the "fear of pregnancy" sub-genre, The Unborn is a footnote. It is a film to add an extra page to the term paper or to simply site one more source. Adams is good but ultimately doomed by a poorly conceived character. The film falters because of writing that failed to bring anything new to the genre.
THE UNBORN Blu-ray Special Feature:
- NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
- NEW Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Rodman Flender and filmmaker Adam Simon
- Theatrical Trailer