The Dark (1979) Poster

(1979)

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It's grey, Scoob. Yikes!
heathblair30 August 2002
Years ago while watching this picture on TV for the first time, I figured about half way through 'Hey, this ain't a sci-fi alien-on-the-rampage flick! It's an occult zombie movie hastily re-edited in a fever of post-production panic to cash in on the popularity of the same year's Alien'. Phew. What a literal thinker I was. Looking at IMDB's 'trivia' section, I see I was right. Wasn't I clever way back then? No. It really IS that obvious.

Disjointed, silly B movie. Not without some pleasures though. Keenan Wynn's fearful walk through a darkened underground car park worked for me, and there are a few unintended laughs here and there eg. William Devane's rather strange reaction to the sight of his dead daughter lying on a mortuary slab: he burps, and somewhat skittishly too. I wonder what Lee Strasberg would have thought of that. Perhaps William was expressing his heartfelt feelings toward the movie he found himself in. Actors get up to these tricks, you know.

And then there's Casey Kasem's police pathologist who is asked by a cop what colour the murderer's (still assumed to be human) skin is. Shaggy Kasem's reply of 'It's grey' is pleasantly creepy and recalls similar moments from Kolchak: The Night Stalker. In fact, Carl Kolchak's shadow looms large over this picture, even down to the unexpectedly spectacular denouement featuring a growling monster throwing cops bodily in all directions. VERY Kolchak.

Actually, damn it, I recommend this movie. It's enjoyable trash if you're in the right mood. But be warned - thanks to/in spite of post-production re-cutting (complete with inept Ed Wood type voice-over to fill in the plot holes) IT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Might be part of it's idiotic charm.
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4/10
Maayybe something good, maayybe something bad
jbhard19 February 2006
I was handed this 'golden garbage' DVD for my birthday (Moe!) and all I can say is paybacks are a bitch. The Dark definitely belongs in the "Plan 9 from outer space" category. If you seek serious horror then avoid this like a Chris Tucker 'movie'. However, if failed attempts of the past make you howl with laughter than look no further than this turkey. Failing test screenings as a zombie movie it was reworked into an alien menace movie with hilarious results.

It all starts with an apology (or prologue if you prefer) that attempts to convince the audience that if electric eels can shock than who knows what's out in space(!?) This amounts to freeze framing the 'zombie movie' and superimposing laser bolts from the creature's eyes and an explosion onto the victim. That's great but the characters solving the crimes keep describing horrible mutilations (!?) I would say the acting is terrible but the lines they are given to say are horrendous. We never actually see a spaceship so 'it' apparently fell to earth on it's own. I'm dying to know how and why it's dressed like a mailman (or a factory worker in his coat sans the lunch box). The addition of a mysterious psychic (?) that shows up at inexplicable times means you know your in beer-cinema country.

Take it or leave it. I'm already stuck with my copy.
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3/10
It's dark, alright...
Vomitron_G18 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There's a very thin line between cult-movies and bad B-movies. THE DARK constantly balances on that line, but when you make up the over-all score, it hopelessly falls into the latter category. It has definitely some elements that scream for cult-status recognition, but fails due to plot-stupidity, illogical events and dialogue-nonsense. And even though I liked it, at some moments, this is by no means a good movie.

The acting maybe isn't too atrocious, but all the actors performances are just plain boring. The plot's boring too for that matter. It has an alien man-thing running around in the city killing people for apparently no reason. At no point whatsoever we learn anything about this alien. The police-detectives, the writer/investigator (whose daughter was killed by the creature), the weird psychic lady,... they all don't have a single clue about who's doing all the killing, but strangely a bunch of demonstrating citizens figured out that it clearly must be a creature or monster of some sort. It makes no sense. Well, actually, it does make sense that this movie doesn't make any sense when you read the trivia-section here on IMDb and find out that this movie originally was to be a zombie-movie. They re-edited it afterwards, adding footage and cheesy animated special effects, into a sci-fi/horror-flick. You can actually still see the alien stumbling around like a zombie in certain scenes.

But as a result we get to see an alien that isn't a man in a laughable monster-suit, but a man with rather cool make-up. The scarcely lit close-ups of the alien are truly creepy. But the glowing eyes effects on the other hand are..., you guessed it: Cheesy. Aside from probably having one of the most appropriate titles ever (boy, this movie is dark!), it has something else going for it: The musical score, at times, is excellent and rather original. Along with some spooky violins you can hear voices whispering "Tenebreee..." and "Darknesss...". To my knowledge this has only been done in Argento's SUSPIRIA and the Friday THE 13TH-series.

To people who haven't been digging deep into horror-movie-history, THE DARK will probably be a pretty bad B-movie. But I still think THE DARK is worth a watch, 'cause I consider it to be a C-movie. "C" for Curiosity. After watching it I found it rather strange that a 70's movie like, for instance, Larry Cohen's IT'S ALIVE developed a cult-status along the years and THE DARK didn't. Oh, well, if you think the whole aimless-alien-loose-on-earth concept of THE DARK is fun, then you should try finding a copy of the so-bad-it's-hilarious trashy sci-fi crap-fest NIGHTBEAST (1982).
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9/10
The soundtrack and Richard Jaeckel's character
Akzidenz_Grotesk10 January 2006
A fun late-night movie with genuine chills. The soundtrack is quite unique and atmospheric: lots of freaky vocals and shrill instrumentation. Roger Kellaway is the composer. Richard Jaeckel's detective character is brilliantly hard-nosed. The interplay between him and his partner is funny. Casey Kasem shows up as a coroner which is a weird surprise. Cool 70's monster flick that apparently had some production problems but is satisfying nonetheless for fans of the horror and sci-fi genres. It's the only movie I've watched with Cathy Lee Crosby in it. I remember her from my younger days in the 70's-80's as one of the three hosts of "That's Incredible" on TV.
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9/10
For lovers of BAD movies, this one's for you!
JCarl0125 February 2004
Cathy Lee Crosby used-up all the goodwill she earned from Circus of The Stars by appearing in this gape-inducing howler from 1979 about a homicidal alien wrecking havoc on a set that's supposed to be downtown L.A. but instead looks like that big alley behind the Wal-Mart in Raleigh, North Carolina. (That's Incredible appeared in 1980. Coincidence, you ask? Pennance, I argue.) Original director Tobe Hooper left after a few days (reportedly the first day) and was replaced by John Bud Cardos, but distanced himself from the blast by going uncredited. (Smart move, Tobe...so sorry Crocodile went straight-to-video.) And I imagine that Producer Dick Clark---yes, that Dick Clark!---must still have long conversations with his agent about removing this flick from his IMDB bio. 70's rock DJ Casey Kasem should get down on his hands and knees every single night and thank God for the voiceover offers he's gotten despite his Method work here as a police pathologist. And what of poor William Devane? (Ponder: Knot's Landing was considered a comeback.) Should I mention that Miami Vice's Phillip Michael Thomas briefly appears as a street hood named Corn Rows? (Let's just observe that point and not belabor it.) The Dark was originally a zombie movie. After poor screenings, the studio tried to repackage it as science fiction by removing much of the zombie footage, freeze framing the monster during attacks, and adding laser beams emanating from it's eyes. Believe me, it takes true genius to make a movie this giddily dumbstruck. It's absence from the AFI 100 List is a sham. You're gonna love it.
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9/10
Alien with deadly eyes!
rickcardona5 December 2005
The DARK was a great movie. I saw it in theater's when it first came out and it was much clearer than the versions released to TV and video. But the stunt work was better than most I've even today. When the alien picked someone up or pushed a van aside, or knocked a stone pillar down, it looked real. Also the gentlemen that rated it before failed to mention that the creature used lasers that shot from his eyes to kill most of his victims. The alien especially used them in the finale against 50 or so cops! The visual effects of the lasers were very creepy and convincing. I do agree that he looked a little too human, but that was a minor factor. I would love to see this movie remade with the eerie atmosphere and excellent stunt work intact.

If it weren't so dark as was the case in theater's it would be almost perfect.
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1/10
Dick Clark presents-a really bad Horror cheapie
lovecraft23123 March 2008
An alien being that fires lasers from it's eyes terrorizes Los Angeles. On it's trail is a T.V. Reporter (Cathy Lee Crosby), a vengeful father (William Devine), and a policeman (Richard Jaeckel). Also, Casey Casem shows up for some reason, and Dick Clark produced this travesty.

Released in 1979, "The Dark" is a reminder that, no matter how nostalgic you may wax about 70's horror, not all of them were gold. Yeah, there were some gems and guilty pleasures, but there were some serious duds too. Now that I think about it, every decade is like that when it comes to movies.

In spite of a seemingly fun cast of character actors, "The Dark" is a real chore to get through. It takes at least 80 Minutes until we finally get to see the monster, and while I'm all for waiting to see the monster, the script, acting, pacing, and directing all fall flat. It also doesn't help that the monster itself is about as threatening as newborn puppy, and as interesting as watching grass grow. Actually, watching grass grow is more fun than sitting through this.

Interestingly, Tobe Hooper was originally supposed to direct this, but he chose good judgment by deciding not to, instead handing directorial duties to John "Bud" Cardos (who also directed the fun nature gone amuck Shatner vehicle "Kingdom of the Spiders.") In the end, a bad experience is had by all, and one is left wondering "Why did Dick Clark produce this?"
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6/10
Not half bad
Woodyanders5 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Given that John "Bud" Cardos took over directorial chores three or four days into shooting after original director Tobe Hooper proved woefully out of his league handling a full-scale production crew, "The Dark" definitely isn't the wretched, foul-smelling unmitigated stinker it's often derisively written off as being. Granted, this modest sci-fi/horror tale of a pernicious extraterrestrial decapitating several Los Angeles residents (the first victim is played by none other than Paris Hilton's real life mom Kathy Richards!) does suffer from a rather slow, meandering pace, a few dreary lulls in the action, choppy editing which frequently borders on confounding, and a muddled script (the alien angle was tossed in at the last minute; the beast was originally supposed to be a flesh-eating zombie), but otherwise it's technically sound. Cardos manages to create a reasonable amount of tension, stages the kill scenes with laudable restraint, and really delivers with the excitingly over-the-top grand payoff ending, a fiery, all-hell's-broken-loose, packs one hell of a bunch final face-off in which the rot-faced intergalactic ghoul turns many of L.A.'s finest pigs into smoking strips of crisp bacon by shooting laser beams from its eyes. John Morrill's cinematography gives the film a slick, attractive look which successfully bellies the movie's low budget (Lee Frost was an assistant cameraman), making especially impressive use of dissolves and super-impositions. Roger Kellaway's first-rate freaky score also warrants appraisal, boasting an odd, eerie, unintelligible ghostly whispering vocal ("the daaa-rrk!") that takes on a truly unnerving black mass-like incantatory quality.

The superior B-movie cast rates as another significant plus. The always strong and commanding William ("Rolling Thunder," "Red Alert") Devane as an ex-con turned best-selling crime novelist who's obsessed with catching the alien after it butchers his only daughter, Richard Jaeckel as the rugged, hard-nosed cop on the case, Jacqueline Hyde as an eccentric old gypsy fortune teller, and Keenan Wynn as a gruff, but fair television station manager all contribute excellent performances. Appearing in nifty bits are Vivian ("Parasite") Blaine as a haughty jet-setter, biker film vet Gary Littlejohn cunningly cast against type as a police officer, and a pre-"Miami Vice" Phillip Michael Thomas as a belligerent gang leader. The massive, shambling John Bloom, a bulky, imposing hulk of man who played the monster in Al Adamson's "Dracula Vs. Frakenstein" and the retarded guy in "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant," makes for a marvelously menacing murderous fiend. Even the novel casting of pint-sized Top 40 disc jockey Casey Kasem as a pathologist works surprisingly well, mainly because Kasem himself plays his minor part commendably straight. Only Cathy Lee Crosby as a crusading up-and-coming female TV reporter who wants to prove herself to her skeptical sexist pig male colleagues disappoints, proving once and for all that she's more of a pretty face than a genuine actress. Overall, this unjustly maligned movie ain't half bad.
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3/10
Sleep-inducing.
gridoon21 September 2000
Low-budget and low-grade horror film will only make you want to re-watch "The Predator", just to remember how you can do this kind of stuff right. The attack sequences here are so poorly filmed that you can hardly see what's happening, and they are separated by LONG, suspenseless, pointless stretches of "plot development"; however, the plot never really develops. A deadeningly dull flick. (*)
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