Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Alone In The Dark (1982)

Jack Palance and Martin Landau play two of the best schizoid psychopaths ever to grace the screen. You can tell these two had A LOT of fun making this movie. These two mental patients bust out of the loony bin intent on murdering one of the new doctors in their ward. Accompanied by a serial strangler nicknamed "The Bleeder," and a 400 lb. child molester named Fatty, they joyfully terrorize a small New Jersey town. The doctor they are after is played by who played Murdock, the crazy guy from the A-team, the one that Mr. T and the gang were always busting out of the nuthouse at the beginning of some of the episodes. Donald Pleasance (Dr. Loomis from Halloween) reprises his role as a psychologist for the criminally insane, and at times appears just as crazy as the inmates he is after. In fact almost every character in this film seems to have a few screws loose. Note the stuttering police captain, the weird looking little girl, and of course the nightclub band, aptly named the Sick Fucks.
You will really have to see this movie to believe it, and it is not the typical 80s slasher movie some reviewers have made it out to be. I first heard about this film when I read a rave review of it in “The Manly Movie Guide: Virile Video & Two Fisted Cinema.” Some of the best scenes were used as samples in the mid-80s horror movie documentary Terror In the Aisles (1984), alongside some other odd choices such as the Sylvester Stallone/ Rutger Hauer action movie Nighthawks (1981).
I would say the overall question this movie poses is who is crazier, the psychologist or the psychology patient? Donald Pleasance’s doctor seems just as berserk as his mental patients in a role that is practically a reprisal of his Dr. Loomis character from the Halloween series. And the other doctor is the guy from the A-team! When the lunatics escape, they are unleashed into a world of characters who seem as bizarre and illogical as those inside the institution. The film is set in suburban New Jersey during the punk rock years, and does an interesting job of holding up a mirror to society in the form of an 80s slasher film. While not exactly a gore-fest, this film did feature some make-up effects by Tom Savini. The DVD is available with extras and a pristine transfer from Image Entertainment.

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