The Dark – USA, 1979 – overview and reviews

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The Dark is a 1979 American science fiction horror film directed by John “Bud” Cardos from a screenplay by Stanford Whitmore (The Eyes of Charles Sand; Night Gallery) for Film Ventures International.


Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; Death Trap) was the original the director but was fired by the producers. Roger Kellaway’s score apes Jerry Goldsmith’s musical motifs for The Omen.

The film stars William Devane (Hollow ManLeprechaun’s Revenge), Cathy Lee Crosby, Richard Jaeckel (The Green SlimeBlood Song), Keenan Wynn (Piranha; LaserblastThe Clonus Horror), Warren J. Kemmerling, Biff Elliot (Blood Bath; The Navy vs. the Night Monsters), Jacquelyn Hyde (House of TerrorSuperstition), Casey Kasem (Shaggy’s voice in Scooby-Doo), Vivian Blaine (Parasite), John Bloom (Dracula vs. Frankenstein; The Have Eyes Part II), Bill Derringer, Jay Lawrence (Kingdom of the Spiders), Russ Marin (Chiller; Deadly Friend), Vernon Washington. Diminutive veteran actor Angelo Rossitto has an uncredited role as a newspaper vendor.


In Santa Monica, an alien “mangler” stalks and kills human prey during the night, beheading them in the process…


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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The stalking bits are moody and creepy and each one shows the monster getting stronger. Whether hurling his victims through fences, crashing through walls, moving vehicles like they were cardboard, or firing off ocular blasts of laser beams, the beast is big, but never looks like he came from the stars. If anything, it resembles a less hairy werewolf.” Cool Ass Cinema


“This is without a doubt the dumbest, most inept, most maddeningly unsatisfactory thriller of the last five years. It’s really bad: so bad, indeed, that it provides some sort of measuring tool against which to measure other bad thrillers.” Roger Ebert

“When it’s in motion The Dark is lovably bonkers in a similar vein to The Manitou or The Visitor but when it’s stagnant, it’s dishwater dull. It actually looks pretty amazing in all of its Panavision glory on DVD but there’s no escaping the frustrating, unfocused, half-hearted pace.” Kindertrauma


“Much of this film reaches Ed Wood levels of inanity. The opening crawl is hilarious (only Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark betters it in terms of absurdity). It talks about species of animals on earth that can kill with electric shocks and poisons (and this is related to a laser-eyed alien in trucker clothes, how?). It talks about millions of planets in the universe capable of supporting life (do the writers know something we don’t?).” Bill Gordon, Horror Fan Zine


“since the movie’s special effects are mediocre — and since the acting is so lifeless it feels like the performers were handed their lines just before they walked on camera –the film’s only redeeming value is atmospheric widescreen cinematography that lives up to the title. Using a mixture of deep shadows and epic lens flares straight out of the John Carpenter playbook, John Arthur Morrill’s tasty images almost make The Dark worth watching. Almost.” Peter Hanson, Every 70s Movie





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One Comment on “The Dark – USA, 1979 – overview and reviews”

  1. There is a reason why the monster does not resemble an alien. In 1978, I purchased a novelization for this movie. The monster in the book was a century-old living corpse that beheaded his victims with a sword, then devoured their flesh.
    Someone had seconds thoughts regarding this plot.
    The movie’s release was delayed for a year, at which time the monster’s identity had been changed to an alien, with laser-eye effects added.

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