First-time director Rodman Flender came up through the ranks at veteran exploitation producer Roger Corman's Concorde/New Horizon Pictures, starting in the publicity department that also spawned producers Jon Davison (ROBOCOP), Gale Ann Hurd (THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS) and director Jim
Wynorski (THE RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING). THE UNBORN is clearly a film destined to find most of its viewers on video, but it's acted and directed with care.
Brad (Jeff Hayenga) and Virginia Marshall (Brooke Adams) are desperate to have a baby, but, until they visit infertility specialist Dr. Richard Meyerling (James Karen), it seems that they never will. Recommended to the Marshalls by a colleague, Dr. Meyerling seems to be a godsend. Virginia
becomes pregnant and has never been happier. Her difficult past, which includes an alcoholic mother and a nervous breakdown, is almost forgotten in the glow of impending motherhood.
But slowly things begin to go wrong. Virginia hears rumors that something terrible has happened to some of Meyerling's earlier patients. A fellow patient calls Virginia to say she's discovered something awful and is frightened, then has a mysterious accident and falls into a coma before Virginia
can talk to her. Virginia discovers Dr. Meyerling's unusual background as a genetic researcher, and begins to have doubts about some of the unusual treatments he prescribes. She becomes convinced that he has genetically altered her child, and that it will be born a monster. She tries to have a
legal abortion, is turned away because she's in an advanced state of pregnancy, and finally submits to an illegal procedure. But her baby is born alive, a malevolent monster, as she had feared. Rather than being totally repulsed by the creature, however, Virginia's feelings toward it are
THE UNBORN plays on every woman's fears about pregnancy: fear of losing control of one's body, of being subsumed by another identity, of bearing a deformed child. Henry Dominic's screenplay recalls many other films about monstrous pregnancies, from Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY to Larry
Cohen's IT'S ALIVE, but manages to work nicely on its own terms; the story is straightforward and Virginia's growing distress, as she becomes obsessed with the notion that her baby isn't normal, is quite convincing. While it lacks the complexity and production values--the monster baby, created by
Joe Podnar, is joltingly unconvincing--to cross over to a mainstream audience, THE UNBORN delivers what it promises and horror movie buffs should find it satisfying. (Violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: First-time director Rodman Flender came up through the ranks at veteran exploitation producer Roger Corman's Concorde/New Horizon Pictures, starting in the publicity department that also spawned producers Jon Davison (ROBOCOP), Gale Ann Hurd (THE TERMINATO… (more)