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The Unborn (1991): Should Have Stayed That Way

The Unborn (Rodman Flender, 1991)


photo credit: Wikipedia

Even the poster is derivative (cf. 1977’s Demon Seed, 1979’s Prophecy)

There’s no other way to put it, so I’ll be blunt: The Unborn, a Roger Corman-produced piece of sheer idiocy probably notable these days only for being one of the most unintentionally hilarious “horror” movies ever made, treads the line of offensive on almost every level. Were people still so disturbed by the idea of in vitro fertilization in 1991 that this sort of thing would have still had any sort of resonance? Screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (responsible for the third and fourth Terminator movies, the ones no one liked; on his own, Ferris was also responsible for Catwoman) thought so, as did Rodman Flender (Idle Hands) in his first directorial outing. Needless to say, all of them were very, very wrong about this. But Corman, never one to be influenced by such things as the datedness of a given script, forged on and created this mess.


photo credit:

The Unborn: Life on the Z-List.

Plot: Virginia and Brad Marshall (Days of Heaven‘s Brooke Adams and The Prince of Pennsylvania‘s Jeff Hayenga, respectively) have been trying to conceive without success. The DeWitts, an obnoxious couple Brad knows through work, refer them to Dr. Meyerling (The Return of the Living Dead‘s James Karen), a doctor specializing in in vitro fertilization. Virginia gets pregnant on the first try (and if you doubted this was fictional before…), but soon after, something goes wrong with Alicia (Jessica Zingali, who never acted again), the DeWitt’s in vitro child, and Virginia becomes convinced that Dr. Meyerling’s motives may not be as pure as everyone originally suspected…

There’s also a ridiculous subplot with a lesbian new-age-hippie couple (TV character actress Wendy Kamenoff and a young Kathy Griffin), also clients of Meyerling’s, who are in the process of starting a birthing class laced with anti-father propaganda (that actually does become important in the climax of the film, though saying why would be the ultimate spoiler). Other reasons you might want to watch it: it features an early role from Lisa Kudrow (who would go on to work with Flender again the next year in the erotic thriller In the Heat of Passion) and has a soundtrack by Gary Numan.

photo credit:

Welcome to the world, baby girl!


Of the lot, the last half of the last sentence of those two paragraphs is the only possible reason why anyone other than a rabid fan of one of the movie’s actors could possibly want to watch this movie. The special effects are wonderful, in the sense of “if you spent five bucks on that nightmare baby, that was four ninety-five too much”, and the movie’s opening dream sequence will have you convinced of that before you even get started here. What’s more, the special effects are nothing out of the ordinary; the slapdash feel applied to them is equally evident in most everything else about this movie, from the overacting to the awful script to “what the hell was Wally Pfister thinking with some of those camera angles?” (Pfister, like Flender, was working on his first picture. Unlike Flender, he got a little better; he’s recently been the DP on films like The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Moneyball.) Godawful at every turn. ½


About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

2 responses »

  1. Tempted to watch it if it was written by one of the guys who wrote Catwoman which is itself a cinematic abortion.

  2. Truly! Catwoman was in a class by itself. If you don’t have a problem with the idiot factor (and I probably should have done one of those “in the interests of full disclosure” gigs, since my one-year-old son was conceived via in vitro, but I totally didn’t think about that influencing my reaction till today), it’s about the usual level of Roger Corman cheesefest.


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