Alone in the Dark (1982)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 26, 2013 | Comments
Image | Region 1, NTSC | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1, English | 93 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jack Sholder
Starring: Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau, Dwight Schultz, Erland van Lidth
Screenplay: Jack Sholder
Country: USA
External Links
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It seems to me that normally, esemble films are just a marketing exercise made to get 'hot' movie stars together so film companies can bleed your average cinema suckers wallet dry. Things like the Ocean's 11 remake really served as not much more than an excuse to get Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Robert's together in a heist flick (easy money at the movies) with a dash of romance and comedy thrown in, along with an old timer, in that case Elliot Gould to make it 'cool'. Obviously the formula works as they squeezed 2 more fish out of that particular Ocean, so why can't B and below movies do it? Well they do, actually, just look at Mr Rob Zombie's work, but few B movies could ever hit the heights of Alone in the Dark.

Alone in the Dark tells of a new doctor, Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz from The A-team and Star Trek) who is to be working at an asylum run by seemingly loopy Doctor Leo Bain (Phenomena's Donald Pleasance). Bain has an unusual way of dealing with his patients, whom he believes to be travellers of a sort, but his asylum has a few particularly dangerous patients. Psychotic paranoid Frank (Batman's Jack Palance), pyromaniac ex-preacher Bryon (Martin Landau of Ed Wood), 'Fatty' Elster (The Running Man's Erland van Lidth) and Skaggs (Phillip Clark of The Black Godfather), a murderer who likes to strangle his victims.

These four are kept under a security system run on electricity (now I point that out because the film points it out regularly, and it's quite important to what happens next...) but they escape when... you guessed it.... a massive blackout hits the town. The problem for Dr. Potter though is that these guys have decided that he killed their previous doctor (who really only transferred to another hospital) and they decide that some grim justice must be brought to him and his family...

There are three names it this film that should make every film fan, and not just genre fan, stand up and take notice: Jack Palance, Martin Landau and horror film favourite Donald Pleasance. Would your self-important high falutin' cinema fan hold those names in high regard? Probably not, but you as a genre fan should. I remember this film from the good old days as a favourite, and I hired it several times as a teen, but unfortunately my adult mind hold it in such high regard.

I am still intrigued by the cast and the basic premise, but it feels like nothing happens for long periods of time. If I am to be a real picky genre fan, I should also point out the low body count, and while one might expect nudity from a film like this there isn't too much in that department.

The performances of Palance, Landau and Pleasance make it watchable, as do a couple of other scenes (the knife in the bed scene being one) but in essence, this plodding film remains better in my teen memory than in my present day eyes.
The Disc
Alone in the Dark is presented in a 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is a little grainy but looks very good for a film of its vintage. The sound also scrubs up well for its age, presented in your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, 5.1 along with the original stereo track.

Image has provided a decent amount of extras on this disc.

The first is a commentary with director Jack Sholder which is interesting and occasionally bitchy, which of course also makes it funny.

Theatrical trailer, which is just what the title says it is but this trailer is full of great misdirections, so when you actually watch the film, you have already been force fed the synopsis. A great trailer actually.

Interview with New York punk band The Sic F*cks is a great interview with lead singer Russell, and the 'F*ckettes' and Manic Panic proprietors Snooky and Tish about the band history and their involvement with the film.

Interview with actress Carol Levy: Bunky Lives sees Carol Levy, who obviously played Bunky talk about her career in adverts, TV and film.

Poster Art and Lobby Card Gallery which has a whole pile of promotional stuff made into a slideshow to music by the Sik F*cks. Normally I hate 'stills galleries' but with the promo art and music attached, this is a little more interesting.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Alone in the Dark is an average B-movie given a bit of shiny charm by its cast, and its punk soundtrack. You'll be singing Chop Up Your Mother for days! The problem is that charm gets tarnished after so many years, and my memories of watching the film were much better than actually watching the film.

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