Everybody has one of those slashers that sticks out in their mind. I suppose I’m no exception either. The 1982 film, “Alone in the Dark,” has always held a special place in my heart. I don’t recall how old I was when I saw it; I just remember being glued to the screen. Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence, and Martin Landau star in this incredibly well put together film.
It has a fairly run-of-the-mill plot as far as slashers go, but it’s executed so well that I believe it almost trancends genres. I feel like this film has enough going for it that slasher buffs get a kick out of it, while thriller fans who aren’t exactly into gore would still thoroughly enjoy it. Donald Pleasence is a doctor at a mental institution, he hires an assistant doctor to take over for another doctor who recently resigned. The only problem is that the old doctor had four very dangerous patients. Upon the arrival of the new doctor, the patients get it in their heads that the new doctor has murdered the old doctor and they plot revenge. A city-wide power outage provides them with a window of escape. What happens next is a constant build up of tension, some wonderful scenes allowing Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau, and Jack Palance to completely cut loose.
This film is also the first film to actually have a killer in a hockey mask…yep, that’s right! they beat Jason to the punch. It doesn’t play too much with the humor and I’m thankful for that. However, it isn’t really “scary.” Slashers mostly fell into this strange void in the 80’s of either being completely disgusting (i.e. “Maniac”) or so campy you couldn’t help but laugh (i.e. “Sleepaway Camp 2” or 3). “Alone in the Dark” seems to be in the minority; it was one of those films that really wanted to change the game. It doesn’t exactly do it, but it’s still a bad-ass movie.
This one gets the Rottin’ Roger Demarco approval with 3 dead orderlies out of 5.