Better the Terror Remains Unknown

Local tribal legends, unexplored caves, curses – Unknown Terror’s plot devices read like something from the 1930s, appropriate given there’s stock thunderstorm footage from the 1930s.

Made with no aspiration other than to fill a scheduling gap for double features, Unknown Terror isn’t incompetent entertainment so much as meandering, dull, and clearly bottom dollar on the production scale. The plot: Westerners approach a poor southern village seeking one of their own, only to repeatedly inquire about a cave location. This takes nearly an hour.

Unknown Terror finds a few images of note

Unknown Terror doesn’t show its monsters, which are men mutated by a super fungus. It’s the most interesting thing about Unknown Terror, superseding the likes of The Last of Us by decades, and giving audiences a classic horror threat rather than one born of Cold War nuclear fears.

None of this makes the film any more engaging on viewing, and the only memorable character is played by Gerald Milton, portraying a deranged doctor abusing women, and sacrificing people to continue his bizarre fungal experiments. Mad with god-like power, his subtle mania only appears in spurts, playing the role with an undercurrent of insanity that’s distinctive in this genre.

The rest is difficult to sit through, with one character suffering a leg disability that seems to come and go depending on what the action requires. A conversation about that disability is utterly painful to digest in its awkwardness.

When it’s time to finally reveal the threat, Unknown Terror finds a few images of note, with the heroes blind to the encroaching horde around them, or in their first appearance, one of the mutant creatures stalks a woman in a window, revealing itself by accident in her vanity mirror. It’s a wonderful trope – the innocent woman preparing for bed, the voyeur-like monster in the window – that Unknown Terror exploits for a brief gasp, Then, it’s back to boredom.

Unknown Terror Blu-ray screen shot

Video

Dust and scratching aside (sometimes severe, in patches), Unknown Terror makes a great impression on Blu-ray, coupled on the same disc with Colossus of New York. Luckily, this doesn’t cause any compression issues with a tiny grain structure.

Overall stellar resolution produces greater definition than expected. Facial texture easily pops, despite the slightest possible grain management seemingly applied; the impact is negligible. Fidelity pops from every frame.

Spot-on gray scale captures nuance in the gradients while doing stellar work to create the depth. Peak brightness doesn’t indicate any fading over the decades since Unknown Terror’s release.

Audio

With a full musical number from Sir Lancelot, the DTS-HD track preserves the audio flawlessly. There’s no scratching, hissing, or popping, and the music shows excellent range. Treble remains clean and pure, with barely any detectable age other than what’s caused the limited recording methods of the era.

Extras

Stephen R. Bissette provides a commentary. That’s it.

The Unknown Terror
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A clumsy, aspiration-less B-grade thriller, The Unknown Terror isn’t notable in the slightest.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 30 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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