For much of its running time, THE UNEARTHING is a gripping and unsettling journey into fear. Towards the end, however, it abandons its aura of Cronenbergian repulsion, descends into camp, and blunts the impact of its memorably unpleasant build-up.
Refusing to abort her illegitimate child, Katrina (Tina Ona Paukstelis) is hired by the mysterious Nulls to carry the baby to term; she's to masquerade as the wife of Peter Null (Norman Moses). The couple need an heir in order to inherit millions, or so they say, so she thinks she's selling her
offspring into a life of luxury. After Peter's invalid mother Olive (Flora Coker) and her bossy Filipino nurse Cupid (Mildred Nierras) greet her, Katrina is warned to stay away from the cabin of Peter's eccentric sister Claire (Jamie Jacobs Anderson). Sensing something amiss, Katrina invites a
trespassing scientist, Dr. Harper (John Kishline) to dinner. After Harper reveals that he's unearthed an unnatural cocoon on Null Property, Peter regales him with the legend of the Aswang, a Philippine vampire who sucks the blood of fetuses.
Unfortunately for Dr. Harper, the Aswang settles for snacking on him and his dog; a giant tongue extends from Olive Null's mouth and drags the doctor to Claire's cabin, where he's drained of blood while still alive. When the Aswang drives her feeding-tube inside Katrina's womb, the expectant
mother protects her fetus by trapping the enormous tongue--which is still attached to Olive, who hangs helpless from the roof above Katrina's room. Freeing but mortally damaging his mother, Peter pursues Katrina to Claire's cabin, where she has to fend off a chainsaw attack by Claire. She escapes
from the vampire family's clutches, but is picked up by a foolish patrolman (Victor DeLorenzo), who drives her back to the Aswang den, only to end up a human plasma bag himself. Before Peter and Cupid can nurture the gravely ill Olive with the unborn baby, Olive dies. Enraged, Peter chases Katrina
around the property and demands that Cupid slay her. When the maid spies a baby tentacle emerging from Katrina's womb, she kills Peter instead. Five years and several corpses (Katrina included) later, a little girl Aswang carries on the blood-drenching Null Family tradition.
Despite amateurish acting by the principals (particularly the phlegmatic Paukstelis), this low-rent shocker does an admirable job of shaking up bloodsucking genre conventions. THE UNEARTHING, guaranteed to give nightmares to expectant mothers, is driven by a fear and loathing of pregnancy that
rivals ROSEMARY'S BABY. The phallic tongue-fiend might seem silly in conception, but it causes shudders in execution. Indeed, up to the point where Dr. Harper gets tongued and is kept alive for further blood-milking, this creepshow truly disgusts and terrifies. After that sequence, however, the
film dives tongue-first into gore-mongering and flaky campiness: suddenly, the horror horizon's alive with the sound of chainsaws. The filmic flourishes of the first half--notably, the jolting sound editing and some effective low-angle tracking POV shots--subside, and the camera merely follows
Peter Null as he rushes about like a cousin of Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING. Before this failure of nerve, however, THE UNEARTHING rethinks fangoria lore with disquieting power. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: For much of its running time, THE UNEARTHING is a gripping and unsettling journey into fear. Towards the end, however, it abandons its aura of Cronenbergian repulsion, descends into camp, and blunts the impact of its memorably unpleasant build-up. Refus… (more)