ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN is a largely forgotten 1973 anthology horror film that today’s viewers will dismiss as cheap, stupid, boring and clumsy.
But many Kindertrauma readers will remember Mrs. Davis. (Either from the movie or previous posts.)
ENCOUNTER makes the most of its unknown actors, because it’s a 70s docu-drama (like those low-budget Bigfoot movies where they feature documentary style re-enactments with supposedly true stories.) Actress Fran Franklin doesn’t have any other credits. She IS Mrs. Davis, the same way Billy Redden IS the banjo kid from DELIVERANCE. You wouldn’t want a famous actor like Meryl Streep in the role, that would just remind you it’s “only a movie.”
So here’s my super-cut of every one of Mrs. Davis’ moments in the film. She has one line in entire movie. But the filmmakers must’ve known she was the breakout star, because they kept going back to her with flashback after flashback. (Seriously, this movie has more recaps than an episode of the E! True Hollywood Story!)
ENCOUNTER is obsessed with the number 7: the power of the 7-sided heptagon, she’s the 7th daughter of a 7th son. And while making this super-cut I realized: she comes back in 7 flashbacks (!!!!!!!)
Without a doubt Mrs. Davis is the most memorable part of the film. She’s even featured on the cover of the DVD.
Anyone who grew up watching this movie is probably haunted by the Davis monologue (which is fitting since this segment of the movie is about being haunted by the memory of that very moment.) Probably because SHE NEVER BLINKS!
She holds the camera’s gaze for 31 seconds with her wide-eyed stare. That’s longer than cinema’s longest stare-downs like Vincent D’Onfrio in FULL METAL JACKET, Jake Gyllenhall in DONNIE DARKO or even the Diner-lady in THE BIRDS.
Anyone with access to Snopes.com can blow-off the 3 urban legends that make up this anthology movie. But I saw this when I was 9 years old. (Oddly enough, it was the first movie my Dad rented when we got our VCR. Not STAR WARS, not E.T., but ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN.) I believed every word that Rod Serling narrated and I bought into the supernatural mysteries. Today I know better, but I still get the chills from Mrs. Davis unblinking stare.
NOTE: This video was edited as part of KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT DEADLY WOMEN. KEVIN GEEKS OUT is a monthly video variety show in Brooklyn, NY.