My loving relationship with the film One Dark Night goes beyond the fact that it was released in the awesome 80s year of 1983 and stars E.G. Daily and has a product shot of Tab and offers a Defender arcade game spotting, although, those are all reasons enough. Actually, back then, One Dark Night was everything I wanted from a horror movie—it was like a hybrid of Phantasm, Poltergeist, and every bad initiation themed slasher film of the early 80s…with a splash of Grease. Could it get any better than that? Yeah. It could. E.G. Daily. HELLO! And if you don’t know who E.G. Daily is, you need to forfeit your 80s membership card immediately. Just address it to “Forever 80s” and it will most definitely arrive at my doorstep.
Funny thing about One Dark Night is, while watching it, you totally get the sense of it trying to rip off the visual terror of Poltergeist: you know, all the decaying corpses falling out of coffins. However, in actuality, this movie completed filming before the 1982 ghost classic, but got held up in post-production!
One Dark Night features a snotty chick clique who think they’re the Pink Ladies, neon jackets and all. Meg Tilly is the Sandy character, trying to fit in with the girl gang while dating the ex-boyfriend of the leader of the pack. But the head bitch has initiation plans for Meg. Mean-spirited plans…literally! Meg is to be locked in a ghoulish mausoleum overnight. If she stays all night, she’s one of the girls. It’s kind of like that episode of The Brady Bunch when the kids tried to spook each other in order to score the attic bedroom!
Things aren’t going to be so easy for Meg. Some infamous psychic who moved objects with his mind has just died…and been laid to rest in the mausoleum. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he has to stop exercising his telekinesis (or should I say…exorcising?). What is there to move with your mind in a lifeless mausoleum, you ask? That would be…corpses! Yippee!!!
Yep, Meg is about to spend the night fleeing from decaying corpses that float through the halls in hot pursuit. This is the stuff of fricking nightmares. Maybe corpses don’t move as fast as that evil little mind fucking silver ball in Phantasm, but they definitely look scarier. Even so, the film wouldn’t be all that entertaining if we just had to watch Meg Tilly screaming her head off for an hour and a half. Instead, the head bitch and her second in command infiltrate the mausoleum to scare Meg to death. Joke’s on them….
The lead chick, a former model, is the perfect beautiful blonde bitch type. Sadly, it seems it’s the only horror film she did, and one of few acting roles on her resume (most of them being some form of the character “girl” on 80s television shows). One Dark Night even earned her the credit of “Introducing Robin Evans.” That’s a Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween caliber credit right there! I guess her agent had big dreams for her. But after this one nightmare, it was all over.
The second in command is probably the most memorable, iconic character in a forgotten 80s film. If you’ve ever tried to recall a horror movie you saw decades ago, and the only thing you can remember about it is that there was a chick running around chewing on a toothbrush all the time, well, that movie would be One Dark Night.
Finally, while E.G. Daily is part of the gang, she’s the one who has a change of heart and decides it’s mean to torment Meg Tilly, so she bows out of the prank early in the film…never to be seen again! Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to see E.G. as a likeable character with a conscience, but I would have taken the naughty E.G. who whips out her boobs in Valley Girl or gets knocked up in Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” video if it would mean her getting more screen time!
Like most films of this era, this one is a slow burner, with all the scares, tension, and gore coming in the last half hour. Definitely a classic of the early 80s if you want a break from all the knife-wielding masked mad men. And keep an eye out for an appearance by the original masked man, Adam West.