Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Dark Night (1983)

The 80’s was a grand time for horror movies and it sees like you can always find a hidden gem no matter how many horror movies you’ve already seen. One such hidden gem is 1983’s One Dark Night (aka Dark Night aka Entity Force aka Mausoleum aka Night in the Crypt aka Night of Darkness aka Rest in Peace). It may not be a perfect horror movie, but it is one fun flick that will no doubt entertain!

High school student Julie (Meg Tilly) has always wanted to be one of the Sisters, an ultra-cool clique of girls that sports snazzy satin jackets and go around sneering at people. Problem is, Julie is dating jock Steve (David Mason Daniels), who just happens to be the ex of Carol (Robin Evans), the leader of the Sisters. To get back at Julie, Carol devises one last initiation for her…one where she must spent the entire night locked in a mausoleum.

Carol and her two Sisters Kitty (Leslie Speights) and Leslie (the cutie-patootie E.G. Daily!) fully expect Julie to back out once their plan is revealed, but Julie is determined to prove herself and accepts the challenge, even when boyfriend Steve tries to dissuade her from joining the silly clique. Julie is dropped off at the mausoleum and locked in, given only a sleeping bag, a flashlight and a “sleeping” pill to keep her company while the other girls drive off to plan other hijinks for later in the evening.

What the girls don’t know is that the famous psychic Raymar was interned in the mausoleum earlier that day. He died of unknown causes and was found dead, along with a group of equally dead young women, in an apartment that looked like a war zone. Silverware and plates were embedded in the walls and much of the furniture was smashed. According to some, Raymar was a “psychic vampire” and could drain the life energy from people. He is now entombed in a crypt, but can still use his psychic powers to terrorize, including moving corpses (and other objects, including busting out of his coffin) with his mind.

Meanwhile, Raymar’s estranged daughter Olivia (Melissa Newman) is discovering the truth about the father she never knew as well as her own psychic powers, much to the chagrin of her husband (played by Adam West! Yes, THAT Adam West!).

When Raymar unleashes his electromagnetic powers, Julie, as well as Carol and Kitty who have snuck into the mausoleum to spook her, are terrorized by Raymar as he tries to scare them with moving corpses so he can drain their tasty, tasty life force. Will anyone live through One Dark Night?

This gem follows the familiar pattern of 80’s horror that involved initiations (Hell Night, anyone?), but just because the formula is familiar doesn’t make this flick any less fun! From the cheesy dialogue to the atrocious fashions to the creepy corpses and spooky location, One Dark Night is a crowd-pleasing movie.

The story, written by Michael Hawes and Tom McLoughlin (who also directed), is surprisingly original. There aren’t many horror films that tell tales of psychic vampires, but this one tells it rather well (despite the cheesy instances of lightening bolts shooting out of Raymar’s eyes)! Also, I enjoyed the subplot of Raymar’s daughter Olivia and her discover of her father’s (and her own) powers. While at times it felt a little tacked on, overall it worked with the film and helped make things more interesting.

The acting wasn’t anything spectacular, but Meg Tilly was great as the determined Julie and the bitch Sisters were a hoot (except what was up with Kitty and her always chomping on a toothbrush??). It was also fun to see Adam West play Olivia’s straight-laced and stodgy husband.

The special effects on the corpses were extremely well done and the corpses looked amazing! The corpses here shouldn’t be mistaken with the “undead” or zombies, as they were just dead bodies that Raymar would control and move with his mind. So instead of walking, the corpses hovered a few inches off the floor, which was pretty damn creepy if you ask me. Also, there wasn’t any bloody gore to speak of, just raggedy old flesh and tons of maggots and worms! My favorite little snippet was when one of the girls was being suffocated by several corpses and she put her foot through the stomach of one of them. Maggots proceeded to spill out! Needless to say, it was wicked cool!

One Dark Night isn’t perfect, though, and some will find the dialogue a bit lacking and there are a few scenes that drag on forever. Did we really need a full-fledged tour of the mausoleum as Julie slowly walks through it?. Every hallway looked the same anyway! The ending and the subplot involving Olivia both felt a bit too convenient at times as well. If you want to get nit-picky, there were also some plot holes and characters that didn’t get developed. Despite these flaws, though, One Dark Night was entirely enjoyable and I didn’t get hung up on any of the negatives of the film.

There are few 80’s movies that can take you back to being a kid again, just kicking it in front of a late-night horror movie on TV, but One Dark Night is one that brings the joyful feeling back. This movie isn’t perfect and isn’t a horror masterpiece, but there’s just something about it that recalls the awesomeness of 80’s horror and just the love of horror in general.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do some for nostalgic terror! Just a tip, though, don’t watch the “Alternative Director’s Cut” unless you’ve already seen the theatrical cut. The director’s cut is very rough and utilized work prints that don’t feature sound. You definitely won’t have fun when you’re sitting there frustrated because you can’t hear what’s going on!

Available on Amazon!

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