Release Date(s)1988 (June 27, 2017)
Studio(s)Vestron Pictures/Lionsgate (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
After a priest is slaughtered and his young ward leaves the church, a new priest is brought in to take over, but finds himself in the center of a war between Heaven and Hell. So begins The Unholy, which made its way to theaters in 1988. It stars Ben Cross as the titular priest who begins investigating the events that lead to his predecessor’s death, but not before a mysterious and beautiful woman comes to him, offering her body as a temptation. The film’s concepts are worthy, but their execution doesn’t do them much justice.
Ultimately, The Unholy isn’t that exciting to watch. The “investigating” takes up much of the film, with hardly any interstitial horror movie action. The priest is also reactionary throughout most of the film, and not participatory. The story seems to happen around him and he doesn’t get fully involved in the plot until almost the very end. The only thing that the film really has going for it is its ending, which features some Event Horizon-type imagery of Hell. With lots of repetative information, uninteresting acting, and dialogue that’s as dull as dishwater, The Unholy can be a bit of a slog to get through. Interestingly enough, The Church, which was unrelated and released the same year, carried the same tagline: “You don’t have a prayer.” I’ll leave it up to you as to whether or not that feels like a meta comment in hindsight.
For the debut of The Unholy on Blu-ray, Vestron Video gives us a transfer that’s quite good without being perfect, but definitely a step up from its standard definition counterpart in every respect. Grain is sometimes minimal, but detail is generally strong with decent texturing, on both objects and faces. There’s a slight softness, including some occasional built-in diffusion in certain scenes, but everything looks generally sharp. Good color reproduction with warm skin tones is also present. Blacks are deep with mild crush while shadow detail suffers a little. Contrast levels are appropriate, although it could stand to be a little brighter. It’s also a stable presentation with few film artifacts leftover, other than some mild speckling. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD track is available. It’s a strong presentation featuring clear, discernible dialogue. Score and sound effects have some weight to them, particularly low end effects. Occasional panning is also noticeable while sounds are generally spaced out quite well. It’s a strong track, overall. Optional subtitles are also available in English SDH for those who might need them.
As for extras, this is another great Red Shirt Pictures-produced bevy of supplemental material. It includes an audio commentary with director Camilo Vila; isolated score selections and an audio interview with composer Roger Bellon; an audio interview with production designer and co-writer Fernando Fonseca, featuring isolated selections from his unused score; Sins of the Father with Ben Cross; Demons in the Flesh: The Monsters of The Unholy; Prayer Offerings with Production Designer and Co-Writer Fernando Fonseca; the original ending, featuring optional audio commentary with producer Mathew Hayden; the original theatrical trailer; 5 TV spots; 2 radio spots; an animated original storyboard gallery; and an animated still gallery.
What The Unholy lacks as a movie, it more than makes up for in presentation thanks to Vestron Video. It’s a movie that’s worth a watch, but I have a feeling that most people will find the extras more intriguing than the film itself. There are some interesting visuals and some impressive gore moments, but The Unholy misses the mark.
- Tim Salmons