87 user 81 critic

Alone in the Dark (1982)

A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.


Jack Sholder


Jack Sholder (story), Robert Shaye (story) | 2 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Palance ... Frank Hawkes
Donald Pleasence ... Dr. Leo Bain
Martin Landau ... Byron 'Preacher' Sutcliff
Dwight Schultz ... Dr. Dan Potter
Erland van Lidth ... Ronald 'Fatty' Elster
Deborah Hedwall ... Nell Potter
Lee Taylor-Allan ... Toni Potter
Phillip Clark ... Tom Smith / Skaggs
Elizabeth Ward Elizabeth Ward ... Lyla Potter
Brent Jennings ... Ray Curtis
Gordon Watkins Gordon Watkins ... Detective Burnett
Carol Levy ... Bunky
Keith Reddin Keith Reddin ... Billy
Annie Korzen ... Marissa Hall
Lin Shaye ... Receptionist at Haven


Thanks to a major power cut, a gang of psychopaths breaks out of the Haven maximum security mental institute in order to lay siege to the psychiatrists who have tormented them over the years with their bizarre theories... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When the lights go out, the terror begins. See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This horror movie was "of the Halloween (1978) school" according to Halliwells. See more »


Byron 'Preacher' Sutcliffe: I like the hat!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Although the UK cinema version was intact the 1987 Rank video was cut by 15 secs by the BBFC with edits to a scene where a babysitter is threatened by knife thrusts while kneeling on a bed. See more »


Featured in Bits and Pieces: Bringing Death to Life (2003) See more »


Chop Up Your Mother
Written and Performed by The Sic Fucks
Produced by Andy Shernoff (as Adny Shernoff)
See more »

User Reviews

Insightful entertainment – great cast
1 February 2007 | by manuel-pestalozziSee all my reviews

This here is one more American horror movie that reflects social issues and behavior patterns of a certain era (a truly interesting genre), in this case the early nineteen eighties. The main ‚target' is a small young family in New Jersey. The father is a psychiatrist, who just started working at a lunatic asylum. He is some kind of bleeding heart liberal, down to driving a vintage Swedish SAAB model. The head of the asylum is even more ‚liberal', he does not want to put the really dangerous cases in his custody behind bars. They can't help it being dangerous, they are not insane, but voyagers, is his credo.

Due to an incident in a nearby nuclear power station the wife and sister of the psychiatrist protested against (finding themselves promptly behind bars), the four most dangerous inmates can escape from the asylum. They get after the psychiatrist, because they think he killed his predecessor. Why? Just because they are insane. They set siege to his house, and from there the movie resembles Assault on Precinct 13.

The story may sound simple and dumb, but it works very well. This is not least due to the first rate cast with many venerable thespians. Alone in the Dark is definitely a must-see for fans of Martin Landau. Here he found one of the only too rare occasions to show off his range as an actor. He plays a mad preacher with rolling eyes, swinging around a burning jacket or wielding a sharp instrument. At one point he appears at the doorstep of the psychiatrist's house with a mailman's cap on his head, saying he wants to deliver a telegram. His facial expression just conveys sheer insanity, an unforgettable moment.

Basically, Alone in the Dark is a comedy or a social satire. There are some moments of gore, the suspense aspect is handled very well and in a rather parodic way. The movie and has a good rhythm of tension and subsequent relaxation. It contains a message which is pretty direct and comes through nicely: Some people are just dangerous and have to be kept away. It's OK to search for the reasons of their condition and find possible ways for a cure, but they have to be kept away first.

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Release Date:

12 November 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alone in the Dark See more »

Filming Locations:

Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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