Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Alone in the Dark (1982)

Disposable early-80's horror film featuring Jack Palance and Martin Landau as two evangelical mental patients who escape and embark on a vengeful murder spree to avenge their former doctor. The story revolves around their new doctor, a boring-as-wood bespectacled fop played by Dwight Schultz from the A-Team, who gets terrorized by the psychos once they suspect him, for whatever reason, of killing his predecessor. This stale fuck ruins the movie; like the worst horror films, the filmmakers think that the audience will be lost without a surrogate, and contrast the madness of the Oscar-winning nutjobs with D-grade domestic drama, and it repeatedly makes one lose interest. However, the film has enough tense and freaky scenes to keep one interested, but that is the films cheap ploy; this is an early New Line production, and they were known, back then, for their schlocky tendencies and their somewhat-exploitative energy, on display here in multiple gratuitous death and sex scenes. The main cast, no strangers to having to emote in B-movie dreck, holds up. Donald Pleasance plays another doctor of the nutbars, and he is as comfortable as ever playing a nonsense character in a nonsense movie. Palance and Landau are creepy, especially the latter as his evil psycho side is less familiar, and all the more unsettling with the notion that he could, at any moment, snap out of it, but doesn't. Every time he screams, belts out scripture, or murders somebody, it is startling and effective, and that attests to the underappreciated talents of Landau. But the supporting cast, the tepid direction (outside the horror stuff), and the dogshit script keep the film from being anything else than a decent diversion.

Slightly Recommended to hardcore fans of early 80's horror (a la New Line's early output). A casual viewing of this one would be best, as Dwight Schultze's bits really make one lose interest in between the cool death scenes.

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