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ALONE IN THE DARK(director/writer: Jack Sholder; screenwriters: Robert Shaye/from a story by Robert Shave & Michael Harpster & Sholder; cinematographer: Joseph Mangine; editor: Arline Garson; music: Renato Serio; cast: Dwight Schultz (Dr Dan Potter), Donald Pleasence (Dr. Leo Bain), Jack Palance (Colonel Frank Hawkes), Martin Landau (Byron Sutcliffe), Erland Van Lidth (Ronald ‘Fatty’ Eldridge), Deborah Hedwall (Nell Potter), Elizabeth Ward (Lylah Potter), Lee Taylor-Allan (Toni Potter), Philip Clark (Tom Smith/Skaggs), Carol Levy (Bunky), Lin Shaye (Receptionis), Keith Reddin (Billy), Annie Korzen (Marissa Hall), Brent Jennings (Ray Curtis), Gordon Watkins (Det. Burnette), Larry Pine (Dr. Harry Merton); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Shave; New Line Cinema; 1982)
Though the plot is hokey and its message is crazy, the maniacs- on -the -loose thriller is chilling.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Though the plot is hokey and its message is crazy, the maniacs- on -the -loose thriller is chilling. It tells of the escape, during a town power outage in N. J., from the experimental Haven asylum of their four most dangerous maximum security inmates: the sociopath Colonel Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance), the pyromaniac Preacher Byron Sutcliffe (Martin Landau, the obese child molester Fatty Eldridge (Erland Van Lidth) and the schizoid killer Skaggs (Philip Clark). The directorial debut of Jack Sholder (“Runaway Car”/”Freddy’s Revenge”) is an auspicious one. The horror tale is based on a story by Robert Shave, Michael Harpster & Sholder. The violence and the frightening atmosphere are imaginative, the veteran actors are menacing, the black humor derived from its thesis that ‘we’re all crazy now’ is on the money, and it has the right scary look even if it has its comic moments. The killers falsely believe the new psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz), killed the former popular shrink, Dr. Harry Merton (Larry Pine), and vow to kill him in revenge. That opportunity comes about when the electricity no longer locks them in and they flee after killing two staff members. On their rampage they join looters and take weapons from a sporting goods store. They also go to Potter’s house in a stolen car and hold Dan and his family under siege. The family includes vulnerable teen sister Toni ( Lee Taylor-Allan), his spunky young daughter Lylah (Elizabeth Ward) and his edgy wife Nell (Deborah Hedwall). When the loopy head of the asylum, who doesn’t believe in madness and smokes a feathered pipe, meets the escapees at Potter’s place, he insanely tries talking to them as if they weren’t violent loonies, treating them as “voyagers” instead of patients. When Hawkes leaves Potter’s place, he goes to a punk rock concert of the Sic F*cks. They sing such tunes as “Chop up Your Mother,” while the rock audience finds all the mock violence from the punks to be so radical chic.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”