My friend Tony invited me over to watch ALONE IN THE DARK (1982, directed by Jack Sholder), an all-star slasher film with over-the-top performances by two future Oscar winners–Jack Palance and Martin Landau!
The story goes like this: the weird guy from the A-TEAM (not Mr. T, but Dwight Schulz) is Dr. Potter, who takes a job at an insane asylum that looks like Wayne Manor and moves his family into a new, big, pretty white house.
His wife (Deborah Hedwall) kinda looks like the mom from E.T. and his daughter (Elizabeth Ward) looks like some kind of alien crossbred with Dick Cheney.
His "punky" sister Toni (Lee Taylor-Allan) soon pays a visit with her horrible mismatched outfits, lazy fake hair coloring and her love for reggae. She even asks if they know any Rastafarians. What the fuck?"Yeah Toni, we just bought this big new white house in the middle of Whitesville and by the way, we have Rastafarians for neighbors."
Donald Pleasance is Potter's boss, who explains that the four most deranged inmates get their own wing of the hospital behind electric doors. The four include a weapons-crazed lunatic named Hawks (Palance), a preacher named Sutcliff (Landau) who likes to burn down occupied churches, ‘Fatty’ (Erland Van Lidth from THE WANDERERS), who rapes children, and “The Bleeder,” a guy who gets really bad nosebleeds, so he hides his face.
I called them "The Fanatic Four". There's also another doctor who looks like Barbra Streisand in her MAIN EVENT fright wig. At this point I wish Babs had recorded a theme song for the film.
Speaking of music, Toni takes the Potters to see a bad 80s new-wave/punk band called The Sic Fucks-who perform a few songs and make Potter crazy. They are about as punky as Punky Brewster.
So then suddenly there's a blackout all over town–hence the movie's title, and the lunatics kill the first black guy they see–a hospital worker who looks like the dude from POLICE ACADEMY who makes noises with his mouth. Panic ensues in the community and soon people are looting and starting fires.
They are stealing everything from folding tables to cardboard sets from the local childrens' theater.
Oddly, they avoid looting the local Radio Shack. The Fanatic Four are able to gather weapons from a sporting goods store and they immediately head towards Dr. Potter’s house – believing that he killed his predecessor at the nuthouse. Sure, why not?
Meanwhile Potter's sister Toni convinces Mrs. Potter to attend a "No Nukes" rally with her. They both wind up in jail, where Toni picks up a hunky dude. The alien/Cheney daughter comes home from school to find "Fatty" waiting for her. Uh-oh.
The babysitter named Bunky (Carol Levy) soon comes over, puts Cheney to bed and invites her skinny boyfriend over to fuck her. The boyfriend gets pulled under the bed and Bunky gets to play Russian Roulette with a knife through the mattress. Fun!
After the Potters come home to find no baby sitter, they invite a black cop to join them for dinner and of course, he ends up dead. Big surprise.The family is held captive in their own house by the nutjob quartet, and the handsome guy that Toni picks up at the rally turns out to be...I'm not telling, but we saw it coming from a mile away.
There's a few small frights here and there, but overall a pretty tame thriller. Maybe if I was actually "alone in the dark" while watching it, it might have frightened me more. It's enjoyable mostly for the bad fashions and the scenery chewing that Jack and Martin seem to be doing. It's almost like they were in a competition to top one another. I'd give it a 6.5 outta 10.