Film Review

Tom McLoughlin’s One Dark Night

Are you a horror fan? Do you have Shudder? If the answers are yes to the former and no to the latter you should get on it, because the curators of this streaming service have delved deep into the genre mines to come up with some long buried gems that have probably escaped the sonar of even seasoned fans. Example: Tom McLoughlin’s One Dark Night, a film I would never have dreamed existed if I didn’t see it in the cue, is a brilliantly grotesque little slice of peak 80’s schlock that almost feels like a long lost John Carpenter film. Meg Tilly stars as a college girl who will do anything to join a stuck up sorority ran by a titanic bitch of a head sister (Robin Evans). In this case the initiation ritual happens to include spending one night alone in a spooky mausoleum, but this place just happens to be the final resting place of a notorious serial killer with the clairvoyant ability to reanimate the dead into unsettling shambling corpses. On top of that the bitch head sister sneaks in through a busted window and plays mean pranks on her too, while the killer’s harried widow (Melissa Newman) and her boyfriend (Adam West) arrive to try and put a stop to these supernatural shenanigans. This film is just so much fun for a number of reasons: Tilly is a gorgeous, exotic looking scream queen who is convincing, charismatic and very talented, the special effects for the corpses are horrifically slimy and disgusting and these hovering cadavers get, shall we say, uncomfortably close to our heroine. As soon as the dead killer wakes up and his otherworldly energy permeates the crypt, the film is bathed in a beautiful, Lovecraftian purple glow that enhances the visual aesthetic, supported by an atmospheric, creepy score by Bob Summers. One scene in particular is incredibly effective and legitimacy horrifying, where we observe the first few coffins open and the partially decomposed people come eerily floating out, slowly, with an anxiety inducing inevitability using the confined space, glacial but steady pacing and the terror of the actors. The corpses are interesting here because they aren’t zombies, they aren’t possessed like in Evil Dead, they aren’t sentient or leering or even capable of eye contact… they’re simply rotting dead bodies being moved by telekinesis, and somehow that was eternally more scary to me than zombies or anything else of the like. Anyways, if you like old school gooey horror in the tradition of Carpenter, Craven and Hooper with a neon purple infused, Colour Out Of Space sensibility then you’ll totally dig this. Get Shudder too while you’re at it, it’ll be the best streaming service splurge you’ll make.

-Nate Hill

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