ALONE IN THE DARK (1982) A bunch of crazies escape an asylum during a blackout and seek revenge on a doctor and his family.

aloneinthedark_betaboxTheme Song:


“Chop Up Your Mother” by Sic F*cks, who were yet another New York punk band that tried to ride the CBGB wave in the late 70s/early 80s.

Interesting Dated References: People with mental problems being cared for in medical facilities instead of being free to intimidate people at restaurants, like nowadays.

Best Line: “I need a Valium really bad,” said by a 10-year-old girl.

Social Context: Attempts at slandering both electricity and nuclear power are made, but go nowhere and almost seem like an afterthought. I’m not really sure why people were against electricity in the early 80s, but there are definitely four or five references to it.

Summary: Looking at the box for Alone In The Dark you may think, “Wow, look at all these semi-famous people in this movie: Palance, Landau, Pleasence.” It could lead you to think the movie is actually really good. Surely, if Jack Palance (RIP), Donald Pleasence (RIP), and Martin Landau (RIP) all signed up, something must be appealing. But there’s one thing we forget about this set of actors: These guys took anything ever offered to them ever. Landau was in B.A.P.S! and Pleasence apparently thought taking on as many bad roles as he could post-Halloween would help prevent typecasting.

The movie opens with Landau entering a diner where he is then tied up and almost castrated. He wakes up in an asylum screaming. The next day a young doctor (Murdoch from The A-Team) arrives at the asylum. He is a new doctor and meets up with Pleasence, who is the head of staff. It is quickly explained the asylum has an open policy, in which the committed are allowed to do whatever. Pleasence also talks about the 3rd floor, where there are no bars on the windows and all gates are controlled by electricity. Of course all the violent crazies are on this floor and of course all the violent crazies are aging actors.

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We meet Landau the preacher, Palance the war vet, some fat guy who likes children, and some guy named “The Bleeder,” who wont show his face.

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Palance is traumatized from the war and must have killed some people. That night, all the crazies conspire about the new doctor. Later, the attendant on the floor gives a monologue about electricity to the new doctor. Then we see the new doctor and his wife and daughter get settled in to their new house. Landau shouts a lot, and the other 3rd Floor Crazies get the new doctor’s home address.

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Meanwhile, back at the home address, the new doctor’s sister arrives. Apparently she is fresh off a mental breakdown and now really into new wave and Rastafarians. The three of them go to see a band. The band is played by the real life band The Sic Fucks, which was a New York band I don’t really care about. At the concert, the power goes out and the entire town, which is supposed to be some small New England community, goes fucking ape shit and starts looting stores. The 3rd Floor Crazies escape and join in on the looting, including this interesting scene in which The Bleeder dons a bloody hockey mask and walks off alone.:

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Nerds like to say this pre-dates Jason’s hockey mask in Friday The 13th Part 2.

All The 3rd Floor Crazies head for the new doctor’s house and en route they run over the bicycling mailman. The doctor’s wife and sister ready themselves to go to a nuclear power protest because apparently they forgot the power was out. Landau tries to deliver a telegram to them.

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He was one crazy looking son of a bitch. His performance in Ed Wood was fucking awesome, despite the fact Ed Wood the movie and person sucked. Okay, so the wife and sister get arrested at the nuclear protest. The doctor has the neighbor girl go to the house to check on his kid who is sort of getting “babysat” by the fat child killer from The 3rd Floor Crazies.

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For some reason (to add nudity to the movie), this neighbor girl decides to have sex with her boyfriend in the house after she discovers the kid is napping. She and her lover are then killed. The slut sister of the doctor also brought a guy home from the nuclear power rally. This is getting really convoluted.

The doctor, his wife, his daughter, his sister, the guy she picked up at the rally, and the police chief, all decide to have a relaxing dinner. They hear noises, the police chief is killed outside, and everyone panics. They lock themselves down and get ready to defend against The Crazies. Somehow, Pleasence shows up and gets killed, and then Landau gets killed by the doctor. The fat child killer gets killed by everyone. Oh, and this is actually a nice surprise: The dude from the nuclear power rally turns out to be The Bleeder. That was surprisingly well done. He is immediately killed, though. Then Landau gets killed again, as well. Then Palance shows up, delivers some lame monologue, and as he’s about to kill everyone, the power comes back on. Palance leaves and goes to the club to see The Sic Fucks. He pulls a gun on some drugged out girl and she says something about him, “being really there,” and then the credits role. A pretty nice ambiguous ending that offers a bit of social commentary, but as a whole Alone In The Dark suffers from a little too much humor, be it intentional or otherwise.

Poster and Box Art: The poster for this movie is very solid. If the movie wasn’t so bad, I would say you should buy it and hang it in your house. Anyway, nice painting, nice framing, unnecessarily awkward type treatment, I give it a pass.

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This subtle foreign poster is good, but I can see how it failed to attract anyone into horror films. It actually looks like a good porno box.

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Oddly, there is also this excellent U.S. poster which takes it’s subject matter from the opening scene. Considering the scene is very quick, they must have rethought highlighting this moment. Still a very good poster.

Availability: Available on DVD via Amazon.

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