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The Unholy: Vestron Video Collector's Series (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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The Unholy (1988) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersHoly Hell!  The St. Agnes church is cursed.  It was Father Dennis who fell first.  The second, Father Collins, got his throat ripped out right after burying his shiny head into a pair of magnificent bare breasts.  Let’s hear it for redheads! 

But, wait, as I have long suspected, the fabulous redhead at the center of the murders in this horror film is, in fact, a fucking demon.  I KNEW it!  So much has been explained to me about my former girlfriends.  It’s as if writer Fernando Fonseca lived my dating life and channeled that as basis for the hell that has been unleashed alongside devil dwarves and a gigantic rubber-suited monster in his rewrite of Philip Yordan’s story.   Gingers are the devil!

With two priests murdered violently, the Catholic Church is in a bit of an uproar.  Is there anyone pure enough to loosen the devil’s grip upon its alter?  When their latest choice gets flung from the seventeenth story window of an apartment complex, all hope looks to be lost in the battle against the flaming red hair of the demonic siren who taunts priest after priest with her nubile body. 

Except Father Michael (Ben Cross) survived the attack and the fall WITHOUT A SCRATCH ON HIS BODY!  He must be The One to successfully battle with the temptress of the St. Agnes church.  And so Archbishop Mosley (Hal Holbrook) and Father Silva (Trevor Howard) give him his new assignment as pastor of the now three-years-closed Saint Agnes church.  Now, with a cast as striking as this one, it might be hard to see this one as a b-movie, but it truly is. 

What was once believed impossible has now seen the light of day.  The Unholy, courtesy of Lionsgate's new Vestron Video Collector's Series line, FINALLY gets the HD treatment. And the results are quite fantastic, making your observation of Lent a bit more monstrous and unforgettable.    

Directed by Camilo Vila and featuring a solid performance from Ned Beatty as Lieutenant Stern who wants concrete answers to the murders, the horror film – due to some really cold feet by Vestron’s suits – has an interesting backstory due to their blocking of Vila in the editing booth.  Vila didn’t want a monster movie.  He wanted a sexy thriller; the kind made during the late 1970s.  That’s how Vila got the cast assembled for the picture. 

But the producers had other ideas.  The times had changed and a throwback film was not what they were interested.  They wanted more blood, more boobs, and much more horror. 

Vestron, scared to death of the torpid footage they’d seen from this b-movie, thought that the best way to save their investment and make it more appealing to the youngsters was to hire special effects maestro Bob Keen to amp up its monster-oriented themes.  There was always going to be a monster, but not like the one Keen came up with.  And so the Lent attacks were overcooked, midgets were hired, and a demon was created to help support a banana hammock wearing cult leader (William Russ) bring about the rise of Satan.

Vila had no say in the final cut, but the film – with the addition of the over-the-top creature – suddenly became a bizarre medley of b-movie theatrics.  The Unholy is uneven and shockingly surreal in its mixture of the sacred and the profane.  It also works, which might be the biggest shocker of all.  The often loopy horror won’t be for everyone, but such is always the dilemma of the b-movie.      

The Unholy proves to be a fascinating hymn to late Eighties horror.

The Unholy (1988) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
102 mins
: Camilo Vila
Philip Yordan, Fernando Fonseca
Ben Cross, Hal Holbrook, Ruben Rabasa
: Horror
Seduction. Submission. Murder. Tonight . . . evil goes over the edge.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Who do you think killed Emily?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Vestron Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 22, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 27, 2017
Synopsis: A priest battles a demon that kills sinners in the act of sinning.

The Unholy (1988) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate
Available on Blu-ray
- June 27, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Lionsgate offers you a chance to feed on demon flesh with their 1080p release of The Unholy.  Ditch your import VHS copies.  The new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.85:1 is a rich one.  The AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. This is EASILY the best the film has ever (and probably will) look. The details in the churches and the club are strong. The clothing and some of the furniture items are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer, too. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Some stuff from the same era hasn’t made the HD transition quite as well, but The Unholy looks much, much better than expected. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. The original 2.0 Stereo Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio.



  •  Featuring a full-length audio commentary from director Camilo Vila, The Unholy’s supplemental materials prove to be more valuable than the movie itself.  Here, fans get the dirt that went down behind the scenes of the movie.  Vila doesn’t hate so much as he does explain his view of things vs. that of the producers’ wants.  Fascinating stuff.

Special Features:

With NEW interviews from actor Ben Cross and writer Fernando Fonseca, the supplemental material is indispensable.  There are also soundtrack inclusions – both used and unused – and a strong look at the original ending, before the reshoot, and a look at some of the creations in the movie.

  • Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Roger Bellon (40 min)
  • Audio Interview with Production Designer and Co-Writer Fernando Fonseca, Featuring Isolated Selections from His Unused Score (15 min)
  • Sins of the Father with Ben Cross (18 min)
  • Demons in the Flesh: The Monsters of The Unholy (21 min)
  • Prayer Offerings with Fernando Fonseca (17 min)
  • Original Ending Featuring Optional Audio Commentary with Producer Mathew Hayden
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Original Storyboard Gallery
  • Still Gallery



The Unholy (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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