A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.
Alone in the Dark has a great cast that's strangely underused, and its derivativeness and slight lack of spark make it an eternal underling to much better films, but it's still worth seeing for many reasons.
Donald Pleasance--the one of three stellar cast members who is almost not underused--turns in a typically, wonderfully goofy performance as a famed psychiatrist. He's heading an asylum, he's a bit crazy himself, he's fond of smoking weed, and he has experimental techniques, which turn out to be dangerous considering that he has a criminally insane ward. The two very underused actors are Martin Landau and especially Jack Palance, who are both members of the aforementioned ward.
Problems begin when the New Jersey town that houses the asylum experiences a blackout, allowing the patients to escape--if Donald Pleasance as a psychiatrist isn't strong enough to suggest a Halloween film, this scene of escaping loonies certainly is. This leads to the Night of the Living Dead-styled scenes, which are a lot of fun.
I suppose I can see how someone would find this film a mess--it does change gears frequently and doesn't worry very much about continuity or even coherence, but anyone who is a fan of these actors, or asylum films, or any of the many horror films referenced (including some playful jabs at the Friday the 13th films) should get a lot of enjoyment out of Alone in the Dark. There's a high camp factor throughout, including the scenes of going to a club to see a band called The Sick F*cks.
In some ways, it almost feels like producer Robert Shaye and director Jack Sholder--the same team that brought us A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 a couple years later--got a hold of this cast, some money and some time and just started making things up on the spot, seeing how much fun they could have and how crazy they could get while still producing a marketable horror/thriller film. While that's not likely to produce a masterpiece, and it certainly didn't, it did result in a film that's a hoot to watch, especially late at night or on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
- Jul 24, 2006