With its aging stars (Jack Palance, Donald Pleasance and Martin Landau), you might think they would be odd choices to star in a slasher movie just as the teen-centric horror sub-genre was starting to explode. And you’d be right. It is a bit weird seeing them in a movie like this. Sure, Donald Pleasance already had experience with Halloween and Halloween II but both of those movies are classics, while Alone in the Dark feels more like he’s slumming it a bit.
This movie generally receives favorable reviews but seems to have gone unnoticed upon its theatrical release. Again, this is probably because the film went against the grain in casting veteran actors rather than a younger cast. What little word of mouth this film may have had probably involved mentioning the lack of gore in this film as well. By this point, slashers were picking up steam and becoming more crass, gory and sex-filled by the movie. This is not one of those films. It doesn’t become all that bloody until the last third of the movie.
The poster art is a bit misleading. To me, artwork like that sets me up thinking it’s going to be a certain type of slasher movie and it really isn’t. It’s much methodical in its pace as four patients at a psychiatric hospital get loose and go on a murderous rampage in order to find and kill the new doctor at the hospital. See, these four patients think the new doctor killed their previous doctor and they are out for revenge. Well, it may sound like a wacky misunderstanding, but the truth is that all four patients are very dangerous and obviously unstable as one suffers from extreme paranoia, one is a pyromaniac, one is a child molester and the other is a homicidal maniac. If it wasn’t this, I’m sure they would’ve attacked and kill for other reasons.
There’s a twist at the end but it wasn’t that hard to see coming. This is a solid, if unspectacular film that kinda provides the right bit of atmosphere when you’re in the mood for a horror film without going over the top like every other slasher movie of its time. It’s worth a watch at least once.