Blu-ray Review: THE UNHOLY

THE UNHOLY was directed by Camilo Vila from a screenplay by Philip Yordan and stars Ben Cross, Hal Holbrook, Ned Beatty, Trevor Howard, Ruben Rabasa, Jill Carroll, Claudia Robinson, William Russ and Nicole Fortier.

Following the mysterious murders of his predecessors, a newly appointed pastor must battle a powerful demon to save his parish and the world. In New Orleans, a city with a dark underside of black magic and satanic worship, 2 priests have been brutally murdered at St Agnes Church.  Now The Unholy Reign only to be challenged by the purest of mortal souls. Father Michael is appointed to the ungodly parish.  Is he really strong enough to fight off this terrible evil? Or will he be the third priest to die?

This 1988 supernatural horror-thriller follows Father Michael (Ben Cross), a skeptical young priest who is placed in this cursed location by Archbishop Mosely (Hal Holbrook) and Father Silva (Trevor Howard) where he befriends Millie (Jill Carroll), a mysterious young woman who is somehow connected to these murders. The question at first is, is she the one committing them or is there someone or something else behind it all? As the story plays out, the priest does some investigating out into the dark world that surrounds his church where he gets closer to the truth and the evil that lurks behind it. He finally comes face to face with the demonic force behind the murders that now has its eyes set on him. In the end, Father Michael has his faith tested to the max in a battle to not only save the young woman from this sinister evil but to send it straight back to the depths hell where it came from.

The 80’s was full of horror romps like The Unholy which is one of the more obscure supernatural horror-thrillers to come along later in the decade. I do remember renting it as a kid at my local video store and I guess that’s the last time I watched it so it had been a really long time since I had checked this one out. The formula keeps it all simple and is basically a battle between good and evil where we watch a priest have his faith tested as he battles demonic forces. Speaking of these demonic forces, all of the practical effects looked really awesome and were complimented nicely with lots of blood and gore. Hey, you gotta love old school practical effects and it all looks great in high-def! The cast assembled for this horror movie was surprisingly impressive, so much so that a few of the big names didn’t have much to do and ended up being supporting characters who didn’t have much screen time. Their names were big enough to draw the attention of movie fanatics which helped get the movie a little extra attention.

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and impressive list of special features. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition upgrade were crisp and clear. The movie looks and sounds pretty darn good considering the age and obscurity of it. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio for this high-definition release.

Bottom line is, it had been a long time since I had watched The Unholy and really enjoyed revisiting this fun old school horror romp from the late 80’s. The story was pretty simple, the cast was great and all of the special effects were retro cool. Something else that stood out about this horror obscurity was the impressive cinematography that really set the dark mood and atmosphere in the movie. After watching the extras I learned that The Unholy had some problems during post-production because of some differences between the director and the studio. Someone else was brought in to finish editing the movie but it still ended up being a pretty cool watch that unfortunately got overshadowed by more popular horror movies similar to it. The Unholy is finally getting a new lease on life that a whole new generation of horror fans can enjoy and it deserves a nice release like this. Restored and remastered, The Unholy Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray releases on June 27th. This is the first time the movie has been available on Blu-ray and is worth adding to your horror collection.

Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment / Vestron

Run Time: 102 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition 16×9 Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: Good Stuff! The impressive list of extras includes audio commentary, isolated score selections, interviews with the cast and crew, three featurettes, trailer, TV spots, radio spots, original storyboard gallery, images  and the film’s original ending which is a must see.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Camilo Vila
  • Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Roger Bellon
  • Audio Interview with Production Designer & Co-Writer Fernando Fonseca, featuring Isolated Selections from his Unused Score
  • Original Ending featuring Optional Audio Commentary with Producer Mathew Hayden (15:02)
  • Three Featurettes:
  1. “Sins of the Father with Ben Cross” (19:09)
  2. “Demons In The Flesh: The Monsters of The Unholy” (22:26)
  3. “Prayer Offerings with Production Designer & Co-Writer Fernando Fonseca” (18:35)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:17)
  • TV Spots (02:15)
  • Radio Spots (02:25)
  • Original Storyboard Gallery (18:40)
  • Still Gallery (11:51)


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