Short Takes: U

The UFO Incident (1975)

Producer: Joe L Cramer
Director: Richard A Colla
Screenwriters: Hesper Anderson and Jake Justiz (book: John G Fuller)

A middle-aged couple discoveres they were abducted by space aliens through hypnotism with lots of racial politics in the mix — sort of like the film is about something serious.

This made-for-television film is shockingly good. And though it is a drama with sciene fiction elements, it’s also scary.

Starring James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope) and Estelle Parsons (Roseanne). Featuring Barnard Hughes and Dick O’Neill.

The UFO Incident is under copyright. It’s been released on DVD a couple of times but is now out of print. You can find it floating around the internet.

Under the Skin (2013)

Producers: James Wilson and Nick Wechsler
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Screenwriters: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer (book: Michel Faber)
Our review: Under the Skin

A space-alien woman drives around Glasgow, seducing young men who she lures into a trap. But one day, she seduces an unusual man who she frees. Thus begins her doomed adventure to connect with humanity in a less menacing way.

This is a deeply disturbing and compelling science fiction drama in the tradition of The Man Who Fell to Earth. Also: Scarlett Johansson naked.

Starring Scarlett Johansson (The Island). Featuring Adam Pearson (Chained for Life), Jeremy McWilliams, and Michael Moreland.

Under the Skin is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of short behind-the-scenes videos.

The Underdoggs (2024)

Producers: Kenya Barris and Snoop Dogg (as Calvin Broadus — his real name) and Constance Schwartz-Morini and Mychelle Deschamps and Jonathan Glickman
Director: Charles Stone III
Screenwriters: Danny Segal & Isaac Schamis

An arrogant ex-football star coaches a kids’ team and learns valuable lessons.

This is a pretty standard youth sports film. It’s part of a recent trend toward making kid films but with R ratings. It seems to be made for kids to watch on the sly without causing an uproar since it has no nudity. It’s basically Bad News Bears, which was rated PG-13.

The film stars Snoop Dogg who, while charismatic, doesn’t work great here. With him are Tika Sumpter, Jonigan Booth, Mike Epps, and George Lopez.

The Underdoggs is under copyright. It is streaming on Prime but hasn’t been released on disc yet.

3 March 2024

The Unholy (2021)

Producers: Sam Raimi & Robert Tapert and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Director: Evan Spiliotopoulos
Screenwriter: Evan Spiliotopoulos (novel: James Herbert)

A witch from the 19th century is trapped in a doll. In modern times, her spirit is released and she uses a local woman to spread the word about her (pretending to be the Virgin Mary). A journalist reports the story but begins to have questions about her intentions.

This is a competent horror film with an outstanding lead performance. But it doesn’t have the gravitas of most of the Catholic horror we all know and love. The ending is quite impressive though. And despite being over-long, it is never boring.

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Heist), Cricket Brown, Katie Aselton (Black Rock), William Sadler (Nothing Sacred), and Cary Elwes (Princess Bride).

The Unholy is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras.

9 January 2022

Unknown Visitor (2019)

Producer: Gloria Bueno
Director/Screenwriter: Isaac Rodriguez

After hearing sounds outside her new house, a woman has her boyfriend install a camera and intercom connected to her smartphone. Eventually, she finds that the noise is from a woman who is running from her boyfriend who took her child. And now they may both be in danger.

This is a found-footage film with everything seen from the perspective of the front door camera. The first half is kind of slow and overall, I think the film, at 52 minutes, would probably be better at 15 minutes. Still, the second half is surprisingly strong and by the end, I was won over.

Starring Brittany Dunk, Jason Scarbrough, and June Griffin Garcia. There is also an actor who plays a door-to-door salesman who is pretty funny but isn’t listed in the credits.

Unknown Visitor is under copyright. It isn’t available on disc but you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

8 July 2023

Unlisted Owner (2017)

Director: Jed Brian
Screenwriters: Jed Brian & Tyler Landers

A family moves into a new house and all of them are murdered. A group of young people camping nearby break into the house to investigate with predictable results.

This is a well-made found footage film. For my taste, it features far too much “boys being boys” content and lots of pointless arguing. But the acting is surprisingly good and it has some excellent moments.

Starring Jed Brian, Gavin Groves, Tyler Landers, Andrea Potts, Griffin Groves, Haidee Corona, and Tanner Hoke.

Unlisted Owner is under copyright. It is available on Blu-ray with an interview commentary featuring Brian and Landers along with almost 20 minutes of cut scenes.

31 January 2021

The Unnamable (1988)

Producers: Dean Ramser & Jean-Paul Ouellette
Director: Jean-Paul Ouellette
Screenwriter: Jean-Paul Ouellette (Short Story: HP Lovecraft)

A string of college students visit a local “haunted house” only to be murdered by a monster that has lived there for a couple hundred years. But a rescue comes in the form of two nerds in tweed suits!

This is a hidden gem — hidden because viewers miss the fact that it is a comedy. It’s clearly going for a Re-Animator feel. It isn’t as consistently good but there is no doubt that the film works. And the monster is wonderful!

Starring Charles King, Mark Kinsey Stephenson, and Alexandra Durrell.

The Unnamable is under copyright. It is available from Unearthed Records on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of interviews and commentary by the actors (but strangely not the producers).

3 March 2024

An Unquiet Grave (2020)

Producer: Christine Nyland & Terence Krey
Director: Terence Krey
Screenwriters: Christine Nyland & Terence Krey

A year before the film starts, a woman died and her husband and twin sister are still affected by it. The husband has learned of a way to bring the wife back but he needs her sister’s help. Unknown to the sister, he is going to bring his wife back into the sister’s body. It works but the wife is none too pleased with what’s been done.

I loved this film. It creates a great atmosphere and maintains suspense throughout. Everything works here and it deals with issues of life that mean a lot to me. Others find it boring. I don’t see why. I was riveted from the start.

Starring Jacob A Ware and Christine Nyland who are both superb.

An Unquiet Grave is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

30 July 2021

The Unseen (1980)

Producer: Anthony B Unger
Director: Danny Steinmann (as Peter Foleg)
Screenwriter: Michael L Grace (story: Michael L Grace and Kim Henkel & Nancy Rifkin and Danny Steinmann (as Peter Foleg))

Three young women come to a festival in Solvang but their hotel reservations have been lost and they have nowhere to stay. They accept the offer of a local museum owner to stay with his wife and him. Two of the women are killed by someone unseen. Will the third escape?

This is a good old-fashioned slasher film where there is no clever twist. And what makes this film really shine is the relationship between the older couple. It features an unexpected and heartbreaking ending.

Starring Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me), Sydney Lassick (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), and Lelia Goldoni (Shadows). Featuring Stephen Furst (Animal House).

The Unseen is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

17 June 2020

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