Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Days Of 80's Movie Slashers: 10/5 - Alone In The Dark (1982)

Day Five:

Alone In The Dark
A New Line Cinema Release
Original Theatrical Release Date: November 12th 1982
DVD: Yes

Plot: Four dangerous mental patients (two of which include Martin Landau and Jack Palance!) under the care and control of possible mental Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasence) and have just been assigned new Psychiatrist Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz). The problem is these crazies find a way out of the mental institution and think Dan has killed off their previous doctor. They make their way to Dan's house where he and his family must struggle to keep them out and survive the night.

Alone In The Dark is a Slasher Movie with personality. The film's setup is a bit different than most others of the genre as we get to know both the victims and the villains. And what a gang of creeps they are! One's a religious nut who likes to burn everything (Landau) another is a child molester, there's also a character who's nicknamed "Bleeder" and best of all is the former prisoner of war, Frank Hawkes (Palance) This explosive heap of a man has a real problem trusting anyone, and becomes the leader of the group. These guys are crazy and sick, but somehow a couple of them manage to be almost loveable.

Who doesn't love a good crossbow action?

While a good chunk of films of the genre can feel a bit by-the-numbers, there are surprises and excellent performances to be found here. I mean, four escaped mental patients during a blackout. Consider the possibilities! ALONE manages to make the most of it's story, remain intelligent while doing so, and not be totally derivative while it delivers the Slasher goods. Perhaps I'm partial to a good home invasion story since it's a theme that taps into some of my greatest fears.

Directed by Jack Sholder (A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2, the excellent The Hidden), the Picture has a great, almost anarchic vibe at times. The last scene of the Film alone! I've never seen a slasher Movie end as this one does. Every time I watch it I almost want to cheer in jubilation for it's insistence on not being pat or average. I wish the underrated Sholder was making more films. And especially ones like this.

Alone In The Dark is noted as the first major Feature Film produced by New Line Cinema. And what a way to begin! Up until this point, New Line's focus was distribution of Arthouse types of fare and films that would play to a College Campus. They also brilliantly picked up on the genius of John Waters and released most of his work. Looking back on films like Alone and A Nightmare On Elm Street, one wishes they were still in the independent Film business. New Line was sold to Time Warner in the mid-90's and eventually merged with Warner Brothers in 2008 and is not even a glimmer of once it was. Fortunately we still have a lot of their catalog titles to look back to, and Alone is one of my absolute favorites.

You so crazy, I think I wanna have yo baby.


A girl with a side ponytail is a terrible thing to waste.


Eric said...

Great write up man. I love the hell outta this underrated gem.

Kevin J. Olson said...

So, so underrated. One of my favorite slashers! I love the scene in the club with that band The Sick Fucks. There's some really good humor buried beneath the horror. And yes, the end is wonderful. I love a good home invasion story, too. Probably one of the few things to still really freak me out! It's why I can't watch The Strangers again! Hehe. Great write-up! I'm really enjoying this series, and I can't wait to see what you have in store for us.

FilmFather said...

Great minds think alike, Meep -- I too posted a review today featuring Landau and Palance bringing the crazy: 1980's Predator prototype, Without Warning.

My favorite scene in Alone in the Dark is probably the reveal of The Bleeder. Dripping from off-screen onto that woman's clothes...eeeaaahhhh!

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Cinema Du Meep said...

Thanks Eric!

Kevin-- The club scene is terrific. I can't believe she took them there!

FilmFather-- That's pretty funny! Alone In The Dark beats Without Warnings ass!

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