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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » One Dark Night (Blu-ray)
One Dark Night (Blu-ray)
Code Red // R // August 15, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $17.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted November 15, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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One Dark Night:

One Dark Night, from 1982, fit right into an obsession with moldering corpses which seems to have gripped the horror world at the time. (Poltergeist, Ghost Story, Mausoleum, Mortuary, or maybe it was just me.) At any rate, the movie, which pits a young Meg Tilly against a bunch of animated corpses, positively revels in the burning question; 'what does a corpse look like after it's been cooling its heels in the old mausoleum for a few days, months, or years?'

You see, around that time, I would often flip through Fangoria magazine, which believe it or not used to share space with Time magazine on grocery store magazine racks. What greeted my wondering young eyes was a plethora of desiccated husks, what seemed to be the practical effect du jour, and it freaked me out, man. When I saw One Dark Night on the marquee of a South Street movie theater in Philadelphia, I knew I had to see it! And see it I did, several years later on VHS tape and several, several years later again on a Shriek Show DVD. The corpses still hold sway.

The plot is as non-sensical as it is negligible. Tilly is desperate to join a high school gang of bad girls, three girls who don't seem to realize they're actually pathetic outcasts. Meanwhile TV's Adam West is married to the daughter of a recently-deceased crackpot psychic named Raymar, a possibly evil man who manages to kill a closet-full of college girls while impaling his apartment walls with cutlery and dishes. (It's all laid out in gritty opening scenes that might lead you to believe you're watching a crime saga.)

But cruel fate is at play, as the bad girls force Tilly to stay overnight in the very same mausoleum where Raymar lays in repose. Unless he's getting all fired up and animating all the corpses, that is!

One Dark Night was an experiment in Middle-School Horror. Rated PG, anyone could see it. It seemed marketed toward pre-teen fears of high-school acceptance, plus, it had gory (at least rotting) special effects! As such, the tone is a little uneven, but when it gets cooking, there's no denying the power of the central conceit. You see, rotting corpses are creepy, no matter how you slice them. Nobody wants to see what people look like after they've been cooped up in a box for six years, except they do want to, kind-of. And they're gross man! That's your Aunt Mitzy, but her jaw is falling off!

What's worse is that Raymar really doesn't do much more with the corpses than make them float around, dragging their toes across the floor as they go. The entire goal of the corpses is to float up to Tilly and the others, sliming them or dusting them with flakey skin and crumbling body parts, causing irreparable psychological harm. Maybe. Well, that's certainly what all those gross pictures in Fangoria did to me as a 12-year-old, and that's what director Tom McLoughlin's stylish fright-fest will do to you, if only in a nostalgic sense. With extras old and new, Code Red's Blu-ray release of One Dark Night is Highly Recommended for fans of '80s horror.

The DVD

Video:
Code Red brings you an AVC encoded HD image in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation. A note appears at the beginning of the movie, indicating that sources for this transfer are of varying quality, which is well true. Damage, scratches and speckling, among other things, are often on full display. While mildly distracting at first, such wear and tear quickly fades as a distraction, while still imparting a mild Grindhouse feel. There is plenty of film grain as well, but colors overall look solid, details in the mid and foreground are fairly well-defined, and digital artifacts and compression problems are not a problem.

Sound:
The corpses slide around in a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix. There isn't much to distinguish the sound quality, good or bad. One imagines the source wasn't fantastic in the first place. Dialogue is fairly clean and clear, the score is mixed in nicely, and there are a few scary jolts to be had from the mildly dimensional soundtrack.

Extras:
Code Red brings in extras old and new for this release, all of which are packed on a single Blu-ray. Foremost is the Workprint Version of the film, which obviously looks pretty terrible, but provides some insight into McLoughlin's thought-processes, as well as the film's journey to the screen. McLoughlin appears in Two Commentary Tracks, one old, with co-writer Michael Hawes, and one new with producer Michael Schroeder. Almost 40-minutes of Behind The Scenes footage is very informal, thus offering a unique look at the production. About 2-hours of Interviews encompass all angles of the production in compelling fashion. The Theatrical Trailer and 3-minutes of effects-guy Paul Clemens showing off his high-end Halloween mask work round out the set.

Final Thoughts:
One Dark Night's dizzying tale of high-school girls traumatized by floating corpses represents a unique time in practical effects horror. If the sight of a moldering corpse appeals to you, this PG horror film is for you! More importantly, if old-school effects and '80s horror is your bag, Code Red delivers the goods with One Dark Night. Those that have the 2-disc Shriek Show DVD might not necessarily need it, but for the rest of you mouth-breathers, it's Highly Recommended.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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