review for Alone in the Dark on AllMovie

Alone in the Dark (1982)
by Donald Guarisco review

This satirical take on the slasher genre is a welcome antidote for those burnt out on the many run-of-the-mill examples of the form. The script, penned by director Jack Sholder, takes a little while to rev up, but it works in plenty of sly humor along the way, usually riffing on the idea that sanity is a relative concept. The script also boasts characters that are unusually rich in dimensions for this kind of movie. These amusingly offbeat characters at brought to life nicely by an above-average cast: future A-Team loony Dwight Schultz gets to play it straight here as the psychiatrist hero and Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and Erland Van Lidth all register strongly as three different kinds of psychos, all bringing both menace and wit to their roles. However, it is Donald Pleasance who practically walks away with the movie, thanks to his deviously funny performance as an institution director who identifies a little too strongly with the patients he treats. Behind the camera, Sholder's pacing is little off in a few spots, but he gives the film a stylish look (aided nicely by Joseph Mangine's shadowy style of cinematography) and pulls everything together for a thrilling final act that is capped by a haunting yet funny parting shot. To sum up, Alone in the Dark is one of the best (and most subversive) entries in the '80s slasher boom and a worthy choice for horror fans of this era of film.