Monday, January 5, 2015

Movie Review: Alone in the Dark (1982)

Alone in the Dark (1982) - USA - Horror - Rated R
Directed by Jack Sholder
Starring Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau, Dwight Schultz, Erland van Lidth, Deborah Hedwall, and The Sic F*cks as themselves

A different kind of slasher flick that has fun with multiple killers terrorizing a family isolated during a power outage.

A new psychiatrist arrives at the Haven mental hospital run by an unorthodox psychiatrist who at times seems as crazy as the patients. There is also a special third floor of the hospital inhabited by four hardcase patients who all have developed a paranoia about the new doctor having killed their old doctor and is out to kill them. But the new doctor is safe as the third floor is a lockdown floor protected by electric locks. That is, until a power outage sets them free and four psychopaths are on the loose and gunning for the new doctor and his family.

Alone in the Dark is definitely a different kind of slasher flick. There are no masked killers in this, but instead there are four would be killers on the loose, and perhaps their masks really are what each of them are capable of. A preacher who sets churches on fire unfortunately while people are in them, a 400 pound child molester with the mentality and temper of a child, a war vet who pretty much sees life as having to defend his space and knowing the way out, and a mysterious killer known as Bleeder who never shows his face to others and got his nickname from getting a nosebleed after he kills someone.

Unlike the usual mindless inhabitants of most any slasher flick, the would be victims are a family and some friends who are in the unfortunate path of a paranoid delusion of four killers on the loose. These characters are well developed and not cardboard ducks to be knocked off by the killers. And with a cast like this, perhaps slumming a bit for the time it was, they have a lot of fun with chewing the scenery and it works well for this kind of movie.

Fraught with tension and scares, Alone in the Dark is an enjoyable ride. The performances are very entertaining, and special mention to Erland van Lidth whose childlike performance makes his character that much more real and threatening. With additional surprises, especially in a twist ending, this is a movie that delivers on the goods.

A special note about Bleeder and the hockey mask: Alone in the Dark was made before Friday the 13th Part 3, but not realeased until several months after it. It may seem like Bleeder wearing a hockey mask in one scene was a rip-off of Friday the 13th, but in actuality it was not as Bleeder wore the mask first, and the opposite may well be true as a member of the crew of Alone in the Dark subsequently worked on Friday the 13th Part 3.

My Rating: 4 Fingers. This is a little longer than my usual review, but this is also among my favorite horror movies and I let my enthusiasm run amok.

*I wrote this review before I realized how expensive the DVD is. Obviously the price has gone up since I got mine several years ago. If you want to check it out you can get the DVD here. As much as I enjoy this movie, it is not worth $30+ dollars for a DVD. Perhaps wait for prices to drop or for a Blu-ray release.


  1. Hey Toxic Fletch,
    Glad I found this site. I find my interests in movies leaning towards the works of Lynch, Cronenberg and Carpenter. I thought a movie titled Surveillance directed by Jennier Lynch was pretty well done. What's your opinion on that one?

  2. Outside of Eraserhead I'm not a fan of the Lynches. They have a tendency to celebrate the perverse in people, and not in a good way. Their protagonists are generally self-absorbed and unlikeable. I've never seen Surveillance. As for the others, I generally like Carpenter's work, though he does have a tendency to favor style over substance. Cronenberg's films are mostly dark, often with hopeless endings. They're generally artistic and thoughtful, but they're not much fun.

  3. For sure, Lynch movies can make you squirm in your seat, such as Blue Velvet and Naked Lunch. Mulholland Way is just weird, but I'm a Watts fan so I managed to struggle through it. The Dead Zone, filmed in Niagara Falls with Christopher Walkin, as well as The Thing by Carpenter, are favorites of mine. I was a young man when most of these films were released so there is some nostalgic value to them. Thanx for the reply.