Monday, March 4, 2013

The Dark (1979)

Sometimes, the story behind the making of a movie is more interesting than the movie itself. Take for instance the Film Venture Industries released, Dick Clark (yes, that Dick Clark) produced "The Dark" from 1979. The film itself was originally supposed to be directed by Tobe Hooper, but for some reason (probably a mix of scheduling conflicts and studio conflict) he didn't direct it. That job went to Joe "Bud" Cardos, a former stuntman who previously directed the all around fun nature-run-amok film "Kingdom of the Spiders", which starred William Shatner. Needless to say, "The Dark" is no "Kingdom of the Spiders."


The plot deals with a killer known as "The Mangler" that has been roaming the streets of San Fransisco. Leading the investigation is Detective Dave Mooney (Richard Jaeckel), though a former convict turned novelist (William Devane) is also on the case after his daughter is killed. Also on the case (Christ, this is like a shitty version of "Zodiac") is TV reporter Zoe Owens (Cathy Lee Crosby.) Anyways, the writer and the reporter team up and fall in love, and a lot of nothing happens. Also, that killer isn't human at all, but a zombie like extraterrestrial.

There's lots of potential for a fun little twist on the slasher movie, but this offers little of interest other than the occasional bloody murder sequence. The cast of character actors seem to be trying, but all either overact or under perform as if they don't want to be there. The direction by Cardos is bland, at times resembling a really boring television movie than it does a theatrical one, as everything about this feels like a job for hire (this wouldn't be his last either, as he'd go on to direct "Mutant" in 1984.) Even the monster itself is kind of lame, and feels more like an Al Adamson creation made on a larger budget (for some, that will sound a lot more fun than it actually is.)

What makes things even worse is the script by TV veteran Stanford Whitmore. It's clear that the movie wants to be character driven, but nothing about the characters or the seemingly endless series of conversations they have are interesting. It mostly feels like one boring monologue or plot contrivance (hey, it's a psychic!) after another with the occasional bit of head severing violence on display. It feels like something that was originally written as a TV movie of the week that was spiced up in the last minute.


If you ask me, the only audience that could possibly show interest in this would be cinematic masochists and MST3K fans looking for something to mock with friends on a Saturday night. There's nothing that really stands out as interesting, and it's more of a dull chore to sit through than it is the pulpy B-Movie it pretends to be.

Rating: 1.5/10

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