Saturday, August 13, 2011

One Dark Night – review

Director: Tom McLoughlin

Release date: 1983

Contains spoilers

Though it should have been the fact that this was a film about a psychic vampire (and one that is named as such in film) that drew me to watch it, actually, to be honest, it was the presence of Adam West (American Vampire) that drew me in. It was a shame therefore that his was a bit part that really could have been any old actor…

That aside… this is a psychic vampire film and, not just that, it was one that actually named the protagonist as such.

Melissa Newman as Olivia
It starts with Olivia (Melissa Newman) led in bed. She is awake and it is thus confusing when she starts to dream of a girl hitchhiking. Later we discover that she has psychic powers and this is no dream but a vision of reality. She sees the girl approached by the driver, she is clearly scared of him and Olivia bolts upright screaming.

dead girls
A convoy of coroner vans arrive at an apartment block. Inside bodies have been found, six girls and a man called Karl Rhamarevich, also known as Raymar. It appears that he has had a heart attack but there is no obvious cause of death for the girls and the apartment’s state is… weird. One of the coroners gets upstairs. The girls are piled in a closet in various states of decay, Raymar is on the floor covered in a sheet and the walls are embedded with utensils and pans. As he is lifted to the gurney his hand falls, energy sparks and a hole is blown into the ceiling.

Julie and Steve
In a local highschool there is a three girl gang called the sisters. They are Carole (Robin Evans), Kitty (Leslie Speights) and Leslie (Elizabeth Daily). A girl named Julie (Meg Tilly, Carmilla) has wanted to join for some time. Recently Carole has been thinking up some initiation dares for her, mainly because Carole’s ex-boyfriend Steve (David Mason Daniels) is now with Julie. The trouble is, Julie is passing them all. However Carole has a master plan, a hazing that Julie won’t pass…

Adam West as Allan
Olivia attends, with her husband Allan (Adam West), the funeral of Raymar – as he is her estranged father. The press crowd outside the mausoleum. Inside she has a psychic flash of Carole and Kitty running scared in the mausoleum. She has to leave the service but returns afterwards to say goodbye. When she gets home she is approached by a man called Dockstader (Donald Hotton) who says he knew her father. He tells her that Raymar was a psychic vampire, much to Allan’s scorn, and leaves her a tape to listen to.

ready to haze Julie
The haze is on. Julie has to spend the night locked in the mausoleum. The girls leave her a downer to help her sleep, but really it is Demerol. They intend to come back and scare the bejesus out of her. Leslie decides it is cruel and bails, leaving Kitty and Carole to do the dirty by climbing through a broken window. The trouble is, of course, that Raymar is in there. Listening to the tape Olivia hears that he was able to drain the life from living creatures (the tape describes animals), manipulate bodies to do his bidding (not zombies exactly, they are more like corpse mannequins) and was obsessed with experiencing dying – and he is coming back. Steve, when he gets wind of the haze rushes to the rescue as does Olivia.

Raymar's sparky eyes
That’s the long and short of it basically. It takes a long time to get to Raymar awakening, and at first he is little more than a cracked plaque, eventually though his coffin does emerge and he appears, all sparky eyed. The zombies are, as described, puppets controlled by him. But they are gross for all that, as many are in advanced decomposition. Are the effects brilliant… no… but I have seen a lot worse. The only other lore, and this is a film end spoiler, is that he can be destroyed by looping his sparky eye mojo through a mirror. A nice twist on vampires and mirrors but Carole just knows so we don’t know where this comes from.

The acting is ok… nothing to write home about, though Tilly’s mad panic is well done. Ultimately the film is a little… lame, is probably the best word. It spends ages building and the payoff is over too quickly with not enough tension or atmosphere. However a dedicated psychic vampire film is unusual enough to get a little score boost. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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