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The Dark (1979) - Blu-ray Review

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The Dark (1979) - Blu-ray Review

2 beersNot all alien encounters will be friendly.  That’s the assertion made in The Dark, a wildly uneven production that is underlined by a super paranoid-causing soundtrack featuring the spookiest use of marimbas to date AND haunting voices that repeatedly whisper and hiss “the daaaaaaaarrrknessssssssss” at its audience. 

Of course, that statement about alien invaders was shoehorned in after the producers switched gears from slasher to science fiction farce, fired Toby Hooper who had taken too long to get things going, and then changed the killer into an alien feature with the hope that it would gain more attention.  Really, though, the only awesome attention this film deserves is when the cops try to take out this alien entity and are hilariously dealt with. 

It’s that lack of identity that kills the momentum in this movie.  Switching stations DURING the making of a movie?  That’s a bad idea, Dick Clark.  He produced the movie and convinced everyone to change the story from a slasher to a tale of scary science fiction.  And those changes plague the film from beginning to end.  

The 7-foot-tall stalker turns out to be an alien (John Bloom) who shoots lasers out of his eyes.  Of course, they are animated bolts of electricity and, of course, it doesn’t work to sell a very effective flick.  And, as it opens with a voiceover commenting on the activity in the sky above us so, too, does it end with a similar (and ultimately) worthless dénouement.  Excuse me, but what did I just see?

This is a movie whose making of is more interesting than the narrative it actually tells.  Firing Hooper after only three days is a bit suspicious.

Had the producers left this picture as a stalker flick, I have the feeling we’d be talking about a totally different response.  The actors – featuring William Devane, Casey Kasem, Kathy Richards, Cathy Lee Crosby, Keenan Wynn, Richard Jaekel, Vivian Blaine, and Philip Michael Thomas – don’t do anything wrong except act for a totally different picture.  They suspect the killer is some kind of zombie tearing up the night streets.  And Kasem provides the wild guesses that keep the police department on their toes. 

The Dark, directed by John Bud Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders), hides its true self in the shadows.  This isn’t designed to be concerned with space.  All of that shit is an after thought and it shows with paranoid suspicion thrown on just about everyone in differing social circles as one man hunts down the killer of his daughter. 

But who is the killer?  The killer is a mangler.  The killer is a zombie.  The killer is an alien.  And no one is safe as long as whatever it is that is killing these people is brought to justice. 

Beginning with an unexpected growl as one woman, after walking quickly through the dark of Los Angeles, is suddenly yanked off her feet and thrown to the ground by a grey-skinned beast, The Dark soon flails about.  We are teased with unease and people walk to their destinations in the dark.  We hear the whispering again.  And soon enough fear has taken hold of all of Los Angeles. 

But the killer has no connection to these people other than it wants to feed on their flesh with cheap thunderbolts shot from its eyes.  This is the sad territory of The Dark and the dark is exactly where we, as fans of science fiction AND horror tales, are left.

The Dark (1979) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
92 mins
Director
: John Cardos, Tobe Hooper (uncredited)
Writer:
Stanford Whitmore
Cast:
William Devane, Cathy Lee Crosby, Richard Jaeckel
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
A Chilling Tale of Alien Terror.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You'd rather see brains on the sidewalk than those swim-suit shows?
Theatrical Distributor:
Film Ventures International
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 27, 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 11, 2016
Synopsis: An urban nightmare not of this world is born in this ’70s horror fan favorite. A writer takes a personal interest in a series of baffling, shocking murders in Los Angeles ... and evidence suggests the culprit may not be human. Every night “The Mangler” stalks the street, attacking and mutilating a random victim. Also on the trail of “The Mangler” is TV reporter Zoe Owens and police detective Dave Mooney, but the truth behind the murders is far more strange and horrifying than they could ever imagine.

The Dark (1979) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Diabolik (Code Red)
Available on Blu-ray
- October 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The Dark is presented on 1080p with a brand new 2K scan from the original camera negatives.  Code Red has done yet another fantastic release, as the shadows never swallow the flick and the colors absolutely pop with vibrancy.  There’s a nice grain throughout the feature and faces are nicely saturated, too.  With a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, this is a fine upgrade of the previous DVD release of this title.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Moderated by Bill Olsen and Damon Packard, the new audio commentary features Cardos and associate producer/production manager Igo Kantor talking about the making of the movie and filling us in on some of the drama behind the scenes.

Special Features:

Outside of the commentary, we also get interviews with the film’s director and the film’s composer, who waxes poetically about composing music for other films.  A theatrical trailer rounds out the supplemental material. 

  • John ‘Bud’ Cardos Interview (13 min)
  • Roger Kellaway Interview (25 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Dark (1979) - Blu-ray Review

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