One Dark Night (1982) Slasher-era film that watches more like a Hammer-era gothic horror.

Theme Song: Some synthy/violin stuff.

Interesting Dated References: Teens playing pranks on each other that don’t involve sexual humiliation; Well-paced horror films with atmosphere.

Best Line: People say “nerdle brain” in this movie.

Social Context: One Dark Night is definitely a movie that never found its audience. Grouped in with the slasher-era horror films, it watches more like a European gothic horror movie from the late 60s. I hate European gothic horror from the late 60s, but One Dark Night’s blending of the formula with 80s scenery definitely has a lot to offer.

Summary: Julie (Meg Tilly, The Big Chill, Agnes of God) wants to join the three-person girl gang, The Sisters. I watched this movie twice and still missed if these adults were supposed to be in high school or college.

Carol, the leader of The Sisters, decides Julie can join after she spends the night in a creepy mausoleum. Carol is mad at Julie for dating her old boyfriend, Steve, and wants to torture her during the overnight stay.

Running parallel to this is a story about Raymar, the Russian psychic vampire who dies from sucking too much negative psychic energy out of teenage girls and is newly entombed in the aforementioned mausoleum. His daughter, Olivia (Melissa Newman), starts getting psychic vibrations from beyond the grave and decides she has to stop her disembodied father from killing any others.

These plots converge during an effectively-done and well-filmed overnight stay. Julie, initially alone in the mausoleum, grows increasingly scared and decides to take some downers Carol had given her. Around that time, The Sisters descend, only to be quickly scared by corpses Raymar is reanimating from beyond the grave.

Eventually Steve catches wind that Julie is stuck in the mausoleum and arrives just as Olivia shows up to defeat her father in a battle of psychic energies. After lightning effects and cool melting corpses, Raymar is defeated and Julie, Steve, and Olivia leave. Nobody cares to look for The Sisters, who are lying dead under a bunch of dead bodies.

This is a good movie and it’s even better on the streaming/dvd release, which fixed the terrible darkness issue with this Betamax. Seriously, unfairly overlooked and worth checking out.

Worth Mentioning:
– Elizabeth Daily (Dottie from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Streets of Fire) plays the Sister with a moral compass who decides not to participate in the prank and instead tips Steve off to Julie’s whereabouts.

– Adam West shows up briefly to play Olivia’s husband, but doesn’t have a lot to do.

– Directed by Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) with lots of really nice tracking shots that make good use of the filming locations.

– There’s an arcade scene and people are shown playing Xenon

Poster and Box Art: Unfortunately, One Dark Night had a miserable poster. It basically looked like the Thorn EMI clamshell with minor font differences. Seriously, where is the airbrushed skull dripping blood or something? Just a poorly-lit shot from the film in which you can’t even see any reanimated corpses.

Availability: Somewhat restored (though people still complain because that’s all people know how to do) double-disc DVD that has an alternate cut on Amazon.

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