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Film / Alone in the Dark (1982)

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Alone in the Dark is 1982 slasher-esque horror movie directed by Jack Sholdernote  and it stars Dwight Schultz, Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau and Jack Palance. It was also one of the first in-house films released by New Line Cinema.

Dr. Dan Potter has just arrived in the psychiatric haven of Dr. Bain to replace one Dr. Merton, who has moved to other work. Some of the patients, who really liked Dr. Merton, come to the conclusion that Potter has killed him and now he is going to kill them.

Yeah, it's a case of primo Insane Troll Logic, but these people are insane.

One night, a blackout caused by a power plant failure lets the vengeful patients escape the haven. During the ensuing citywide looting, they arm themselves and start seeking out our good doctor....

These tropes were found in the dark:

  • Batter Up!: Ronald picks up a baseball bat in the blackout looting. It is later used against him to drive the meat cleaver stuck on his back further in.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Frank Hawker, Ronald Elster and Byron the Preacher, the Terrible Trio with the same goal: Kill Dr. Potter. They are initially a foursome with Skagg the Bleeder, but he leaves them during the blackout looting to pursue his own goals.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While the Potters survive and kill all the psychos but Hawkes, they're left traumatized by the ordeal, along with the fact that several innocent people are dead.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Black orderly Ray Curtis is the first victim of the crazy foursome.
  • Car Fu: Because Byron wants the guy's hat, our antagonists run over a telegram messenger with their van. Byron then puts on the headwear in an attempt to get inside Dr. Potter's home.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Just as he is struck by a meat cleaver in the opening nightmare, Preacher wakes by springing up and screaming.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: As Hawkes has the cast on arrowpoint, electricity comes back. And just in time to put the television back on to show the news, which features an interview with Dr. Merton, the guy whose "death" Hawkes and others were trying to avenge. Upset about learning that he has been fighting the wrong fight, Hawkes leaves.
  • Covers Always Lie: The covers of VHS and DVD releases place Donald Pleasence's character among the lunatics. While being a bit of a nut himself, his character Dr. Bain is actually a good guy.
  • Don't Look At Me: John Skagg, alias The Bleeder, is introduced with him facing a wall, and Dr. Bain tells Dr. Potter that he doesn't like having his face seen by strangers. He keeps this up to the point of putting on a hockey mask during the blackout looting. It also sets up the reveal of him being Tom during the siege.
  • Dream Intro: The film opens with a nightmare that one of the main antagonist mental patients is having, where a normal visit to a diner turns surrealistic and lethal.
  • Evil Chef: Dr. Bain appears as one in Byron's nightmare, and tries to slice him up.
  • Evil Laugh: Byron laughs evilly as Hawker tailgates the telegram messenger. He does it again before killing Dr. Bain.
  • Fearless Fool: Lyla doesn't think twice when she meets a complete stranger (who is in fact Ronald Elster, a child molester) claiming to be her new babysitter in her home. Good thing that nothing bad happens to her, and they just arrange some origamis.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: After introducing himself to the third-floor patients, Dr. Potter turns to leave but Hawker stops him by pointing at him and yelling his name.
  • Hallucinations: The stress from the siege causes Toni to hallucinate a monster attacking her.
  • Lock Down: Third floor of the asylum will lock itself completely if anyone approaches its windows from the inside by night.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hawkes has a case of this at the end, when its revealed that Dr. Merton, who he believed Potter had killed and was trying to avenge, is alive and well, meaning that his friends and several innocent people died for nothing.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Hawkes, a sort of predator himself.
  • Neck Lift: Bunky manages to escape from Byron, who attacks her from under the bed, but is instead captured by Ronald who then lifts her in the air by her neck.
  • Neck Snap: Ronald punches a guy through a car window, breaking his neck. He then throws the body out of the vehicle and the foursome commandeer it.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The film opens up a nightmare that Byron the Preacher is having, where a normal visit to a diner turns surrealistic and lethal.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Hawkes muses about this after witnessing the death of Byron.
    Hawkes: So... it's not just us crazy folk that kill. We all kill... when we must. And we all die... when it's time.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Nells opens the closet that has the fire extinguisher in it, and the corpses of Bunky and Billy fall out.
  • Protect This House: Last third of the movie has the Potter family defending their home from the psychopaths.
  • Psychic Nose Bleed: "The Bleeder's" nose starts bleeding whenever he kills.
  • Pyromaniac: Byron, alias Preacher, whose "trip" is to set churches on fire. With people in them.
  • The Reveal: Tom, the guy that Toni met during the nuclear power protest, is actually The Bleeder.
  • Title Drop: When the subject of being afraid of the dark comes up, Toni tells Lyla that as a kid, she "was scared to death to be alone in the dark".
  • Unwilling Suspension: Preacher's nightmare in the opening ends with him dragged up by chains, and getting hit by a shiny meat cleaver held by Dr. Bain.
  • We Need a Distraction: The patients arrange a commotion with the pyromaniac Byron so that Elster can sneak into Dr. Potter's office and find out his address in Joisey.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Toni is afraid of the dark, which makes things worse for her when the lunatics start besieging her brother's house in the ongoing blackout.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: When the lunatics start their escape from the asylum, Preacher and Ronald go look for Curtis. When they find him, Ronald hoists the orderly over his head and does a backbreaker to him, snapping his spine.