• One Dark Night

    Released by: Code Red DVD
    Released on: August 15th, 2017.
    Director: Tom McLaughlin
    Cast: Meg Tilly, Adam West, E.G. Daily, Robin Evans, Leslie Speights, Melissa Newman, David Mason Daniels
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Tom McLaughlin, One Dark Night opens with a scene where a crowd of cops, media types and curious onlookers have gathered around the home of Karl Rhamarevich Raymar who has just been found dead alongside the bodies of a half dozen or so women. It’s a strange scene to be sure, something that is not lost on his daughter Olivia McKenna (Melissa Newman), who learns that her dear departed father had strange telekinetic abilities that allowed him to suck the life force out of other humans! Her husband Allan (Adam West) is understandably concerned.

    Meanwhile, a trio of college girls who refer to themselves as ‘The Sisters’ and are made up of Kitty (Leslie Speights), Leslie (E.G. Daily) and leader Carol (Robin Evans) are trying to figure out the best way to pledge would be new recruit Julie Wells (Meg Tilly). Their plan is to get her to spend the night in a mausoleum, the same one where Raymar has been laid to rest, much to the dismay of Julie’s beau Steve (David Mason Daniels), who also happens to be Carol’s ex. Julie agrees to their challenge and hunkers down for the night after the girls drop her off, unaware that her potential sorority sisters are intending to prank her and that Raymar might not be as dead as everyone thinks he is…

    Very clearly a product of the early eighties in which it was made, One Dark Night takes a bit of time to get going but more than pays off with an absolutely killer final third act. Once we get to the mausoleum, all bets are off and it’s here that director McLaughlin (probably best known in genre circles for directing Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) pulls out all the stops. The mausoleum location itself is the perfect spot to stage a horror picture like this (there are shades of Phantasm in a few of the shots that emphasis the long halls and high ceilings of the building) and the great cinematography and creative colored lighting effects used in the big finish add an extra layer of ‘weird’ to the proceedings. We get some great practical special effects work on display in this last third of the movie as well, some of which is pretty gruesome and a fair bit stronger than you might expect given that the film got away with a PG rating.

    Performances are decent enough. Meg Tilly, in one of her first starring roles, is genuinely likeable here. She’s cute, her character seems like a good person and we want the best for her once it all hits the fan. David Mason Daniels does a fine job as her love interest, he’s noble enough and he looks the part. Leslie Speights and Elizabeth ‘E.G.’ Daily are fun as two of the three ‘Sister’s while Robin Evans plays the rather nasty, manipulative ringleader type with enough relish to make it work. Top billed Adam West, still way too easily associated with Batman at this point in his career, is good in his part if fairly underused while Melissa Newman isn’t bad at all as Raymar’s troubled daughter.


    One Dark Night arrives on Blu-ray for the first time via Code Red DVD who offer up the film on a 50GB disc framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. A case of ‘doing the best with what’s available’ this transfer does show some mild print damage and small scratches throughout as well as some minor telecine wobble and what looks like maybe some emulsion damage on the right side of the frame here and there, but it is a VAST improvement over the ratty looking DVD release that came out via Media Blasters back in 2006. If the elements available were in less than perfect shape, we get a nice level of detail in the picture and solid texture too. There’s fairly good depth here and color reproduction is fairly solid even if it varies a bit from scene to scene mostly due to the lighting used in the shoot. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and black levels are very deep. All in all, this is a very film-like presentation devoid of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in the film’s native English, sounds just fine. There are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion and while range is understandably limited by the original recording, dialogue is clean, clear and audible throughout. There are no alternate language tracks or subtitles provided on this release.

    Extras on this release are a mix of old and new as Code Red has carried over a bunch of the supplements done for that aforementioned Media Blasters release in addition to creating some new material exclusive to this release. There’s a lot of great stuff here, starting with a brand new audio commentary from director Tom McLoughlin and producer Michael Schroeder. It’s an interesting track that sheds a lot of light on the history of the picture as they some interesting ‘stories from the trenches.’ By all accounts this wasn’t the easiest of films to work on given that their budget got slashed and the film was taken out of their hands for editing and that there were quite a few reshoots required. The second track, carried over from the DVD, features McLoughlin and co-writer Michael Hawes and it too is quite interesting as it features a lot of talk about where the inspiration for the storyline came from, casting the picture, their original opening sequence and quite a bit more. You’d think that given McLoughlin’s involvement in both tracks that there would be a lot of crossover between the two but both commentaries manage to cover quite a bit of ground without retreading the same subjects over and over again.

    From there we move on to a thirty-nine minute behind the scenes piece that, again, originally appeared on the DVD release. Lots of interesting footage here – it’s presented without a lot of context but it offers us a fairly intimate look at what it was like on set as we get a chance to see various shots being set up, actors prepping for their scenes and McLoughlin spearheading everything.

    A selection of newly shot interviews are up next, the first of which spends sixteen minutes with McLouglin in the same cemetery that was used for the shoot itself. He starts off by offering some info on One Dark Night and then goes on to discuss other films that he has worked on over the years Friday the 13th Part VI as well as some of the TV work that came later. E.G. Daily is up next in a thirty-two minute segment where she really only covers the basics of her involvement with our feature presentation but really, it’s more of a career overview. She starts out talking about how she got into acting and then goes on to discuss some of the bigger moments in her career, including Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure as well as more recent work like Rob Zombie’s 31. Michael Schroeder gets in front of the camera for fifteen minutes talking about how he came on board to produce One Dark Night including what it was like working with some of the cast members on the production. He also shares some stories about films he’s worked on as a director over the years. Up next is an eighteen minute piece with cinematographer Hal Trussel who speaks about how and why he shot certain scenes the way he did, effort that was put into the picture to give it a specific look, and how admirable the work effort of the cast and crew alike was in getting this project finished. From there we get an eleven minute interview with Nancy McLoughlin who talks about her small supporting role in the film as well as how she worked as a production assistant on the set and some of the challenges that both jobs entailed. Production designer Craig Stearns gets an eleven minute piece where he talks about how tricky it was at times to get things right before the cameras started rolling. Last but not least, we get SFX makeup man Paul Clemens in a seventeen minute interview where he discusses the tricks employed in the film’s finale and how he and others on the crew conjured up some of the bizarre and macabre imagery featured in the picture. These interviews cover a lot of ground, they’re well shot and they’re genuinely interesting.

    Interestingly enough, this release also includes the original workprint version of the film that clocks in at just a few seconds shy of ninety minutes in length and that features the alternate title of Night In The Crypt. This version features an alternate opening scene as the director originally wanted, a few different shots noticeable throughout the film and a different ending. The picture quality here is a little rough around the edges but given that all that exists for this is a tape source, that’s completely forgivable.

    Outside of that we get the film’s theatrical trailer (which is interesting as it is almost entirely dialogue free), menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    One Dark Night takes a bit of time to really hit its stride but once it does, it’s a whole lot of fun. That ending? It’s nuts! On top of that we get some solid effects work, an interesting cast and some great location work. Code Red has really rolled out the red carpet for this Blu-ray release, presenting the film in nice shape and with a mammoth selection of extra features. All in all, this is a rock solid release for a really entertaining movie.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Thanks for the review, Ian. I remember seeing this under the title ENTITY FORCE on VHS in the late 1980s. The title, and especially cover, promised something different to what was delivered, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I'd be interested in seeing it again.

    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Great premise and location. The PG rating kept it from being engaging for well more than hour so by the time the finale started I was completely checked out. I felt like Tilly was wasted and didn't add much.