The Unborn (1991) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

One thumb somewhat down, one thumb WAY down 

Scoop's comments in white


Here is the formula. Start with Rosemary's Baby. Subtract Satan. Add a mad doctor. Subtract Roman Polanski. Add Roger Corman. Voila!

Brooke Adams plays a woman who is unable to conceive. She wants children, and her husband is fertile, so they go into the in vitro fertilization clinic. Well, wouldn't you know it but they are a struggling young couple and they can't afford a real doctor, so they have to go to a mad doctor instead.

It is an inexplicable eccentricity in the rules of the World Market Economy that mad doctors make less than regular doctors, even though evil scientists make more than regular scientists. Can you imagine? In some countries, mad doctors make less money than teachers or utility infielders, despite having to go to school for decades to get those double doctorates in Medicine and World Domination. 

The mad doctor implants a genetically altered evil fetus inside of Brooke. At first she doesn't realize it's an evil fetus, although she might have suspected when the doctor's only pre-natal recommendation was some super vitamins and a carton of Luckies. 


Brooke Adams showed one nipple in a breast-feeding scene, which is likely to be a prosthetic breast
When she finds out about its evil nature, she tries to get rid of it by having an abortion. Unfortunately for the world, evil fetuses can't really be aborted. After you toss them out, they just climb out of the dumpsters and use their evil ESP powers to call for their mothers and lay a heavy guilt trip on them. So Brooke drives down to the Medical Waste District, picks up the fetus, and brings him home to nurse. Hubby isn't really pleased with this idea, particularly after the evil fetus rips out one of his eyes, so he uses his other eye to turn on the computer and place an ad to sell the evil fetus on e-bay.

Meanwhile, Brooke is ticked off at the kid for his little evil pranks, like the eye thing and disemboweling the cat, so she gives him a stern talking to and blows him away with a .357 magnum. Then she realizes that it isn't enough to kill one evil fetus. She has to kill them all. So she takes her Dirty Harry gun down to the Evil Fetus Clinic, and starts blowing away all the fetuses which are growing there in glass bubbles.

As she's driving home, a rogue evil fetus is in the car, and causes an accident. Brooke climbs out of the car, sees the rogue fetus and prepares to blow him away. Then her maternal instinct kicks in, she hugs the little guy, and the movie ends.

It's not a good movie in general. Nothing scary happens for about the entire first half, and we have only the slightest suggestion that something is wrong. (Mostly the lilting Evil Fetus Love Ballad on the musical score, as sung by Nat King Cole. "Evil fetus, evil fetus, men have named you" ..... Or not.). In the second half, we can see that something is wrong, but they didn't have the budget to do much with it. 

For a grade-z Corman flick, it has some strengths:

1. The scene in the laboratory, filled with the fetuses in glass bottles, is imaginative, spooky, and eerily beautiful. The red jars are arranged artistically, lambent in a dark room, and Brooke shoots them out with a pistol, in a scene which is quite well designed and executed. Corman's director was new, but he showed some promise, and later directed quite an excellent horror-comedy called Idle Hands, which is well worth a look.

2. Brooke Adams and some of the other performers refused to be pulled down by the quality of the script and the cheesiness of the premise. They tried to develop believable human characters in unbelievable situations, and were successful for the most part. 

So the movie isn't a complete loser. The 3.6 at IMDb is too low. The premise is certainly that bad, and so is the script, but the execution is not. On the other hand, it is, after all, a movie about mad doctors and evil fetuses, so I suppose not a lot of you will be rushing to Blockbuster to reserve your copy. 

Tuna's comments in yellow:

The Unborn (1991) is a rare example of a film where I disagree sharply with Scoopy. I think the IMDB rating of 3.6/10 is about right. Scoop mentions that nothing scary happens for the first half of the film. He didn't mention that it is nearly impossible to figure out what parts are dream sequences, and which are not. I also agree that the scene with the test tube babies is well shot, with good art direction. The film should have ended there, but as Scoop has often pointed out, many directors don't recognize the proper ending even when it humps their leg.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen, but a digitally re-mastered full screen version

  • minor features (trailer, bios)

The problem, in my opinion, was the writing. The premise was a good one. I can accept an evil fetus caused by genetic engineering much more easily than cross species intercourse, or virgin birth. Where they missed out was in not starting the suspense early, and not working out the plot elements carefully. As an example, when Brooke Adams is turned down at the family planning clinic, a back alley abortionist in the clinic offers her a solution. I find it hard to believe that the clinic employees would not notice a sleazy man hanging around accosting women who come in. The should have had a custodian give her a phone number, and then had her agonize over the decision. With better writing, this could have been a decent film. Near the end, she finds her fetus who is rock climbing, and aims a 45 at it, then changes her mind. This is the same 45 she has already completely emptied. They also had no scientific reason why a genetically altered human fetus would cause neck problems and ruptured navels in the mothers. 

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 2.5/4 

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.6 
  • With their dollars ... it took in $1 million domestically 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C- from Scoop, who found some elements he liked in a generally bad flick, and a D from Tuna, who did not.

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