Alone in the Dark


1h 33m 1982
Alone in the Dark

Brief Synopsis

Four escaped lunatics invade a doctor's home.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
1982

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Synopsis

Four escaped lunatics invade a doctor's home.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
1982

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Articles

Alone in the Dark


Four escaped lunatics invade a doctor's home.
Alone In The Dark

Alone in the Dark

Four escaped lunatics invade a doctor's home.

Alone in the Dark - 1982 Cult Horror from New Line


Jack Sholder's Alone in the Dark was never a great movie. But 23 years after its release, it continues to be a very good one. Most definitely not to be confused with the 2005 Christian Slater-Tara Reid stinker of the same name, the 1982 Alone in the Dark has a characters-trapped-by-fiends-who've-cut-the-phone-line second half that wouldn't work in today's cell phone era, but that last half is also an extremely well-done exercise in terror that can still give you the creeps.

Alone in the Dark came out during a trying period for horror. The runaway success of Halloween and Friday the 13th brought on waves of imitators, and slasher movies were all the rage. Like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead, Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case and even Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street - which few recall all had region-by-region runs, not wide national openings - Alone in the Dark arrived on the fringes of mainstream horror. Frankly, it's not as good as those three movies and its B-list cast is actually more upscale than the first two, including Dwight Schultz just before he would become a TV star on The A-Team and Martin Landau and Jack Palance at low ebbs, roughly a decade before each would win Supporting Actor Oscars®. Like those other alternative horror standouts, Sholder's movie is another smart, down-and-dirty genre picture that was a welcome relief from the brainless sequels and knock-offs that so often made horror profitable, but vacuous, during the 1980s.

Alone in the Dark often shows its influences of the day. The musical score is one of several from the 1980s that echo John Carpenter's Halloween keyboard-based score, and the story includes such genre conventions as a precocious young girl (Elizabeth Ward) and a frisky babysitter (the shapely Carol Levy), the latter of whom, of course, has a coitus interruptus demise (call it the P.J. Soles role). But both of those stock characters are good, entertaining characters as rendered here, not burdens. And Sholder's script also injects post-punk energy into his story of Dr. Dan Potter, the new psychiatrist (Dwight Schultz) at a New Jersey insane asylum who quickly becomes the enemy of the irrational psychopaths on the locked third-floor ward (including characters played by Martin Landau and Jack Palance), who think he killed the predecessor they liked better. The story gives Dan a New Waver for a younger sister, Toni (Lee Taylor-Allen), who drags big brother off to a club to see The Sic F*cks, the New York punk/comedy act who not only provide appropriately grisly humor while onstage, but whose scene also sets up the amusing gag that finishes the film.

The denizens of the punk club (both on-stage and off-), the looters who run wild after a blackout strikes the area and increasingly frazzled Toni, who's getting over a nervous breakdown, suggest there's a fine line between the mundane and the mad, one that's echoed by the New Age-y asylum head (Donald Pleasence from, of course, Halloween) and brings a layer of irony and humor to the movie's events. At one point, the asylum's pot-toking head doc pooh-poohs his new staff member's negative impression of the third-floor psychos by telling him, "They're crazy. Isn't everybody?"

We might all be loony, but we're not all maniacal. The psychopaths plot to break out of the ward and kill the new shrink in his own home, and they strike when the blackout occurs, eluding the high-tech security devices that keep them inside - that is, "high-tech" within the context of a 1982 low-budget horror movie (as always, with B movies, sometimes you just have to play along). An asylum orderly (Brent Jennings), the babysitter and her boyfriend (Keith Reddin) all have fatal encounters with Palance's paranoid ex-soldier, Landau's pyromaniac ex-preacher and Erland van Lidth's oversized child molester. By the time Dr. Potter and his family hunker down in their darkened house, the maniacs have laid siege to it, with a stolen crossbow, a hunting knife and three headfuls of twisted grey matter fueling their thirst for vengeance. Dr. Potter's transition from nerdy man of words to a man of action and a neat plot twist involving Tom (Phillip Clark), the friendly hunk Toni brings home from an anti-nuke rally, thicken the drama during the movie's intense climax.

The combination of grudge-bearing sickos and family under siege make Alone in the Dark feel more like the original Cape Fear than the slasher movie its marketing suggested, and Alone in the Dark often compares favorably to Martin Scorsese's cartoonish Cape Fear remake from a decade later. For a budget-priced disc, the Alone in the Dark DVD is impressively generous. Extras include recent interviews with Carol Levy, who makes a big impression as horny babysitter Bunky, and with three of the Sic F*cks. All have fond memories of the movie and interesting stories to tell. There's also an audio commentary track by Sholder, who later made another dandy 1980s genre movie, The Hidden. Among Sholder's many topics are the logistical troubles of making his first movie, the vagaries of dealing with set-in-their-ways old pros like Palance and the reason why he didn't cast Matthew Broderick, who auditioned for the role of Bunky's boyfriend. Alone in the Dark might not have been what teen horror audiences wanted back in 1982, or now, but its cleverness hasn't diminished over the years and it's still appreciated by those of us who saw it during its original run. If there's any cinematic justice, its DVD will win it more fans.

For more information about Alone in the Dark, visit about Alone in the Dark, visit Image Entertainment. To order Alone in the Dark, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

Alone in the Dark - 1982 Cult Horror from New Line

Jack Sholder's Alone in the Dark was never a great movie. But 23 years after its release, it continues to be a very good one. Most definitely not to be confused with the 2005 Christian Slater-Tara Reid stinker of the same name, the 1982 Alone in the Dark has a characters-trapped-by-fiends-who've-cut-the-phone-line second half that wouldn't work in today's cell phone era, but that last half is also an extremely well-done exercise in terror that can still give you the creeps. Alone in the Dark came out during a trying period for horror. The runaway success of Halloween and Friday the 13th brought on waves of imitators, and slasher movies were all the rage. Like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead, Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case and even Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street - which few recall all had region-by-region runs, not wide national openings - Alone in the Dark arrived on the fringes of mainstream horror. Frankly, it's not as good as those three movies and its B-list cast is actually more upscale than the first two, including Dwight Schultz just before he would become a TV star on The A-Team and Martin Landau and Jack Palance at low ebbs, roughly a decade before each would win Supporting Actor Oscars®. Like those other alternative horror standouts, Sholder's movie is another smart, down-and-dirty genre picture that was a welcome relief from the brainless sequels and knock-offs that so often made horror profitable, but vacuous, during the 1980s. Alone in the Dark often shows its influences of the day. The musical score is one of several from the 1980s that echo John Carpenter's Halloween keyboard-based score, and the story includes such genre conventions as a precocious young girl (Elizabeth Ward) and a frisky babysitter (the shapely Carol Levy), the latter of whom, of course, has a coitus interruptus demise (call it the P.J. Soles role). But both of those stock characters are good, entertaining characters as rendered here, not burdens. And Sholder's script also injects post-punk energy into his story of Dr. Dan Potter, the new psychiatrist (Dwight Schultz) at a New Jersey insane asylum who quickly becomes the enemy of the irrational psychopaths on the locked third-floor ward (including characters played by Martin Landau and Jack Palance), who think he killed the predecessor they liked better. The story gives Dan a New Waver for a younger sister, Toni (Lee Taylor-Allen), who drags big brother off to a club to see The Sic F*cks, the New York punk/comedy act who not only provide appropriately grisly humor while onstage, but whose scene also sets up the amusing gag that finishes the film. The denizens of the punk club (both on-stage and off-), the looters who run wild after a blackout strikes the area and increasingly frazzled Toni, who's getting over a nervous breakdown, suggest there's a fine line between the mundane and the mad, one that's echoed by the New Age-y asylum head (Donald Pleasence from, of course, Halloween) and brings a layer of irony and humor to the movie's events. At one point, the asylum's pot-toking head doc pooh-poohs his new staff member's negative impression of the third-floor psychos by telling him, "They're crazy. Isn't everybody?" We might all be loony, but we're not all maniacal. The psychopaths plot to break out of the ward and kill the new shrink in his own home, and they strike when the blackout occurs, eluding the high-tech security devices that keep them inside - that is, "high-tech" within the context of a 1982 low-budget horror movie (as always, with B movies, sometimes you just have to play along). An asylum orderly (Brent Jennings), the babysitter and her boyfriend (Keith Reddin) all have fatal encounters with Palance's paranoid ex-soldier, Landau's pyromaniac ex-preacher and Erland van Lidth's oversized child molester. By the time Dr. Potter and his family hunker down in their darkened house, the maniacs have laid siege to it, with a stolen crossbow, a hunting knife and three headfuls of twisted grey matter fueling their thirst for vengeance. Dr. Potter's transition from nerdy man of words to a man of action and a neat plot twist involving Tom (Phillip Clark), the friendly hunk Toni brings home from an anti-nuke rally, thicken the drama during the movie's intense climax. The combination of grudge-bearing sickos and family under siege make Alone in the Dark feel more like the original Cape Fear than the slasher movie its marketing suggested, and Alone in the Dark often compares favorably to Martin Scorsese's cartoonish Cape Fear remake from a decade later. For a budget-priced disc, the Alone in the Dark DVD is impressively generous. Extras include recent interviews with Carol Levy, who makes a big impression as horny babysitter Bunky, and with three of the Sic F*cks. All have fond memories of the movie and interesting stories to tell. There's also an audio commentary track by Sholder, who later made another dandy 1980s genre movie, The Hidden. Among Sholder's many topics are the logistical troubles of making his first movie, the vagaries of dealing with set-in-their-ways old pros like Palance and the reason why he didn't cast Matthew Broderick, who auditioned for the role of Bunky's boyfriend. Alone in the Dark might not have been what teen horror audiences wanted back in 1982, or now, but its cleverness hasn't diminished over the years and it's still appreciated by those of us who saw it during its original run. If there's any cinematic justice, its DVD will win it more fans. For more information about Alone in the Dark, visit about Alone in the Dark, visit Image Entertainment. To order Alone in the Dark, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video September 13, 2005

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1982

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1982

Released in United States on Video September 13, 2005