• The Unborn (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 14th, 2018.
    Director: Rodman Flender
    Cast: Brooke Adams, James Karen, Jeff Hayenga, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin
    Year: 1991
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    The Unborn – Movie Review:

    Virginia Marshall (Brooke Adams) writes children’s books for a living. Her husband Brad (Jeff Hayenga) is a lawyer by trade. They have a comfortable life together, not really wanting for much – except for one thing: they want a baby. Unfortunately, Virginia’s infertile. They’ve tried and tried but each pregnancy has resulted in a miscarriage and, eventually and understandably, a breakdown for the poor woman.

    As last-ditch effort to procreate, the participate in an experimental invitro fertilization program run by Dr. Richard Meyerling (James Karen) and, surprisingly enough, it works. The Marshall’s are overjoyed when it looks like Virginia will be able to carry to term, but as she gets closer and closer to her expected due date, things start to… change. Once Virginia realizes that things are not nearly as normal as they would seem, she starts to dig into Meyerling’s background and discovers some unsettling news – she may have been impregnated with mutant sperm! Of course, nobody believes her, not even dear old Brad, but that isn’t going to stop her from getting to the bottom of this.

    This one has a lot in common with other pregnancy themed horror pictures like Rosemary’s Baby, the It’s Alive! films and The Demon Seed but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. Despite the fact that it does feel a little derivative in spots, the movie moves at a nice pace and features some pretty memorable set pieces. There’s good atmosphere here as well and the production values are quite good. Co-produced by Roger Corman, this wasn’t made on a huge budget but there was clearly enough on hand to pull off what needed to be pulled off effects wise. The movie also features a score composed by none other than Gary Numan and Michael R. Smith, so it has that going for it as well. There are times where this definitely sounds like Numan’s work, which makes it quite interesting as far as the music is concerned.

    Wally Pfister, who made his debut on this picture but would go on to shoot a lot of Christopher Nolan’s films like Memento, Insomnia and the Dark Knight trilogy, does a great job with the cinematography on the picture. The film is slick looking without looking too polished and there’s some nice, shadowy shots that do a fine job of enhancing the mystery and suspense that the picture puts front and center in the last half of its running time.

    The cast are also quite good. Brooke Adams, of the 1978 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and The Dead Zone, does a really good job in the lead, playing her conflicted character believably and with enthusiasm, steering clear of chewing the scenery and keeping things as grounded as they really can be given the storyline. Jeff Hayenga doesn’t set the world on fire here, but he’s likeable enough and it’s always great to see James Karen, immortalized for his work in The Return Of The Living Dead, show up in a film. He’s got a good part here and he makes the most of it. The movie also features early, albeit fairly small, roles for Kathy Griffin and Lisa Kudrow.

    The Unborn – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings The Unborn to Blu-ray in a perfectly nice AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1, which would appear to be the film’s theatrical aspect ratio, taken from a ‘new 2k scan of original elements.’ Whatever those elements were, they were clearly in pretty nice shape. The transfer is free of any real print damage but retains enough grain to look like film, as it should. Colors are nicely reproduced and black levels are strong. There are one or two spots where you might notice some minor crush but otherwise, no complaints.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on the disc is of perfectly good quality. Dialogue is always easy to understand and the score sounds good, sometimes genuinely impressive. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion, the levels are fine as well. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary track from producer/director Rodman Flender and filmmaker Adam Simon that proves to be pretty entertaining. Some good stories here about Flender’s relationship with Roger Corman, his thoughts on the script and the cast that he worked with on the picture, locations, what it was like on set – all of the requisite points are covered and the track is paced well with very little in the way of dead air.

    Aside from that, the disc also contains a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Reversible sleeve art is also included.

    The Unborn – The Final Word:

    The Unborn is an entertaining enough picture with some legitimately tense scenes and some good work from Brooke Adams in the lead, even if it isn’t the most original film you’ll ever see. It’s well-paced with nice direction. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray debut is light on extras but the commentary is a welcome addition to the disc and the presentation quality is strong.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Unborn Blu-ray screen caps!