Alive Among the Dead – One Dark Night (1983)

For a horror movie, One Dark Night ends up being quite interesting as it starts out as essentially two movies, one detailing a girl’s journey into what she thinks is acceptance and another that tells of a woman’s dead father, a man that had a secret gift she thought she knew about and one that eventually led him down a dark road ending in his death. The two plots could not be more different and it is not long before director Tom McLoughlin brings them together and they converge into what becomes a haunted house picture, albeit in a different setting than the norm.

With both tales being told well, it is the one about Karl Raymarseivich Raymar, the father with the extraordinary powers and how they got away from him that is by far the more intriguing of the two, it is only a bit of shame that the film could not have gone into it a little more than it did. As for the other which involves Meg Tilly’s character Julie, she wants nothing more than to be part of Carol’s little clique, but Carol has something else in mind for her, namely spending a night in a mausoleum so that she and Kitty might play pranks on her. It is the same type of drama that can be found in many a film whether comedy or horror or whatever genre it might be and yet, when the two storylines eventually meet up and the scares begin, when psychic vampire/serial killer Raymar awakens, the film gets exponentially better.

When it comes to the horror in this movie, it begins early on, right from the moment of Raymar’s death and it continues on as it goes into his history a little. A slow-building tension starts to make itself known with every small revelation and while it is not so scary at first, it is slightly disturbing to learn of Raymar’s fall from grace as writers McLoughlin and Michael Hawes are simultaneously also letting the audience know just what it is they are getting into. It might be putting the horse before the cart, but it ruins nothing and when things finally get into the swing of it, it races forward until that very unreal finale. Putting it all over the top are the special effects which are quite good given the budget, the desiccated corpses and the slight animation of Raymar’s corpse sending a chill up the spine and really selling the horror of just what it is that Raymar is capable of.

Starring the aforementioned Tilly, Robin Evans as Carol and Leslie Speights as Kitty, a little extra meanness is injected by the latter two into the picture by their bullying of Julie; something many people can probably empathise with. Additionally starring Adam West in something of a throwaway role as the tired husband of Melissa Newman’s Olivia, the film does not lack for talent. Ultimately, One Dark Night is what more horror films should be – something unexpected. It is a film that does not necessarily lay it all out for the viewer, though one could guess at times where it was going, but it would nonetheless captivate its audience until that final scene where a showdown would take place with a monster that should never have existed.

3.5 out of 5

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