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Flat directing and execution pull down on a solid creature makeup and performance and some playful chemistry between young actors.

The Unnammable

A group of teens spends the night in a haunted house where an Unnamable creature resides. Let’s dig into 1988’s THE UNNAMABLE, directed by Jean-Paul Ouellette!

As I See It

Calling this a Lovecraft adaptation is like calling Jason Vorhees a hockey player. It may look the part, but it skates on thin ice.

Some of the elements of the original short story remain — the cemetery, the dilapidated house, the names of the characters, and especially the label given to the creature. However, it’s more of a true name than in Lovecraft’s attempt to envision that which has never existed and, therefore, could not be characterized by man.

Lovecraft’s story plays with his insecurities as a writer by attributing them to his character (a writer as well) and having his friend Manton lambast him for the histrionics of something indescribable, never seen before, or unnamable.

It’s one of the more enjoyable Lovecraft shorts and only dabbles in purple prose as a character trait instead of using florid verbiage.

Unfortunately, the film never truly touches the feelings invoked by Lovecraft. There is no ‘ghost story around a campfire’ moment, or in the case of the text, upon a tombstone. The pasty creature moves with elegance, and the practical makeup is well done, but it’s very definable. It’s a mammalian, bat-like anthropoid.

There are worse Lovecraft adaptations, but this one resembles so little of the original story that I enjoy that I couldn’t get into it.

Famous Faces

The closest we come to a recognizable face is Eben Ham (Bruce), who has made a career of appearing in episodes of mainstream TV series such as Two and a Half Men, Step by Step, Nip/Tuck, How I Met Your Mother and many more.

Perhaps even more famous is an appearance by that mythical book of the dead which Lovecraft often used, as did The Evil Dead amongst many others — The Necronomicon.

Of Gratuitous Nature

Lovecraft doesn’t translate to teen stories well, but the eighties knew nothing but putting those inchoate humans in peril, and it was obligatory to have a sex scene where the girl must be naked while the guy usually stayed mostly clothed.


In spite of its faults, I do like how it’s shot. The sets are dressed with care, and it’s well-lit.

Ripe for a Remake

Lovecraft’s short story is suited more for an anthology than a feature film. It relies so heavily on imagination and the leaps of fear from the reader that it doesn’t seem filmable, in my opinion.


A sequel was made — written and directed by Ouellette as well — titled The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter.

Where to Watch

Unearthed Films has a Blu-Ray and DVD available. You can stream it on Tubi, Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, and Plex.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 1.5

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