Alone in the Dark (1982)

Alone in the Dark is a 1982 slasher film directed by Jack Sholder (editor of The Burning and future director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, The Hidden, Wishmaster 2 and Arachnid) from a screenplay by him and Robert Shaye. It was the director’s debut feature film and one the first movies to be produced by Shaye’s New Line Cinema. It is notable for the presence of three veteran lead actors: Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence and Martin Landau and for a nightmare sequence with special effects by Tom Savini. The film’s tagline is: “They’re out… for blood! Don’t let them find you”

Dr. Dan Potter is the replacement for Dr. Harry Merton, a psychiatrist at Dr. Leo Bain’s psychiatric haven. Dr. Bain operates the haven through very lenient methods, referring to the patients as “voyagers” and keeping the most dangerous “voyagers” contained with electrically-activated security mechanisms instead of bars.

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The aforementioned third floor patients (paranoid former POW Frank Hawkes, pyromaniac preacher Byron Sutcliff, obese child molester Ronald Elster, and homicidal maniac John “Bleeder” Skaggs) initially treat Dr. Potter with mixed hostility. At their first meeting, Hawkes nearly explodes at Dr. Potter as he leaves, but calms down before giving a reason for his outburst.

At night, however, Hawkes states to the others that “the new doctor killed Harry Merton, and now he wants to kill us”. The others believe him (aside from Skaggs, who hides his face throughout the film, this time burying his head in his pillow), and agree to help him kill Dr. Potter. They plan to do this on the outside…

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“For those accustomed to typical slasher movie conventions, Alone in the Dark (1982) may not be your cup of tea. There’s a moderate amount of gore (a nasty throat ripping by way of a small garden rake; throat slashing; meat cleaver in the back…), but nothing close to a Friday the 13th movie, or similar picture. What it does have, are some strikingly lunatic performances, some choice suspense and scares and a strong script. For a lot of people, that is more than enough. This 80’s horror entry is an unappreciated hidden gem and highly recommended.” Cool Ass Cinema

” … well worth a look if you’re out to check out something a little different. It isn’t a very gory film, but it does feature some nice, visceral death scenes and mutilations. Furthermore, there are quite a few jump scares that will startle you from time to time. Renato Serio’s score isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it does manage to establish a mood befitting a horror flick.” Brett G., Oh, the Horror!

“The lack of serious gore in Alone In The Dark is due to a “falling out” between Sholder and the special fx guy. One death is never really resolved due to this, but Sholder was able to bring in some guy named Savini for one of the better jump scares. Of historical note, Alone In The Darkfeatured a killer in a hockey mask before that guy in the franchise picked one up. Slasher fans who enjoy cameos by rock bands will enjoy seeing The Sick F*cks perform “Chop Up Your Mother”. Thomas Ellison, Retro Slashers

“… an above average entry in the already crowded maniacs-on-the-loose sub-genre, thanks to its tight, crisp look, imaginative use of sound, excellent playing by its veteran cast, and a nice line in humour.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror 

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Categories: 1980s, slasher

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