On November 12th 1982 Jack Sholder’s classic film, Alone In The Dark hit cinemas. Released amidst the slasher boom the film to this day stands as a unique look at society and how those we deem mentally disturbed might not be all that different from us all the while playing up the slasher cliches that were prevalent at the time. With a script written by Jack Sholder, Robert Shaye and Michael Harpster and a cast led by Donald Pleasance, Martin Landau and Jack Palance the elements aligned perfectly for a film that deviated from what horror fans had come to expect of a horror film at the multiplexes.

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Growing up in the 1980’s video stores reigned supreme and the horror section was ground zero for my education in the genre. Cover art played a big role in what many a fan rented in those days and the cover art for Alone In The Dark was definitely an attention grabber. The synopsis of the film is rather generic. A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor’s house. We’ve heard that a million times but what Jack was able to do was use the talent of his cast and the brilliance of his script to subvert the social climate of the time and how the folks outside of the loony bin were just as crazy as those inside. Donald Pleasance plays the retiring head of the institution to the tilt  and I was amazed to learn when I interviewed Jack Sholder a few years ago that it was actually Donald’s idea for his character to be smoking a water pipe during the office scene. That alone should sell you on checking out the film. Donald Pleasance smoking a water pipe!

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It’s extremely hard to categorize Alone In The Dark as it hits on everything from dark comedy to slasher to social commentary but the fact remains that there isn’t another movie in the genre like it. A little known fact about the film is the work that Makeup legend, Tom Savini contributed in the creation of the monster apparition that the character of Toni has. With a cast that includes a genre legend and two Oscar winners you can’t go wrong with Alone In The Dark. A retrospective on this film isn’t complete without mention of the nihilistic final scene that still amazes me to this day and how it’s even more relevant these days. With so many bland reboots and copycat’s coming out these days I highly recommend turning off the lights and revisiting Jack Sholder’s classic film, you won’t be disappointed.

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