One Dark Night (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Aug 27, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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One Dark Night (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Tom McLoughlin

Release Date(s)

1983 (August 24, 2021)

Studio(s)

Comworld Pictures (MVD Rewind Collection)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: C+
  • Audio Grade: B-
  • Extras Grade: A-

One Dark Night (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

Long before Tom McLoughlin made his name in the horror community by directing one of the most successful entries in the Friday the 13th series (Jason Lives), he was an amateur filmmaker out to prove himself. After going through a rocky post-production period, his first film, One Dark Night, finally hit cinemas and drive-ins in February of 1983. Featuring a fresh-faced Meg Tilly and E.G. Daily, as well as Adam West in a smaller role, this little telekinetic vampire zombie film that could didn’t manage to light the box office on fire but it did become something of a cult classic later on, especially after McLoughlin’s highly profitable run-in with Jason Voorhees. Featuring fun makeup and gore effects by Tom Burman and Paul Clemens, One Dark Night is a slow but ultimately enjoyable horror film with Gothic horror trappings and a spooky atmosphere.

The body of occultist and telekinetic vampire Raymar has been interred at the local mausoleum, though his daughter Olivia (Melissa Newman) and her husband Allan (Adam West) aren’t sure that he and his powers are gone forever. As part of an initiation into a snobby club of girls, Julie (Meg Tilly) has been instructed by Carol (Robin Evans), Kitty (Leslie Speights), and Leslie (E.G. Daily) to spend the night inside the mausoleum to prove herself worthy. Though Carol and Kitty plan on scaring her, Leslie informs Julie’s boyfriend Steve (David Mason Daniels) about it who rushes over to the mausoleum to get Julie out of there. Unfortunately for all of them, Raymar is fully cognizant of everyone inside and uses his telekinetic powers to reanimate corpses and attack them. Olivia is on her way to help, but she may be too late to stop him.

One Dark Night comes to Blu-ray for a second time as part of the MVD Rewind Collection, sporting what is assumed to be the same master used for the Code Red Blu-ray release. Sourced from various prints with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this presentation is obviously flawed due to speckling, scratches, damaged frames, and instability found throughout. However, it’s not a totally unpleasant experience as it has good contrast and saturation. Make-up effects and skin tones, as well as location hues, register well enough. Blacks are mostly solid, even with the built-in crush, and grain is often heavy but not burdensome. It’s kind of a “best that there is” situation as the original elements are nowhere to be found. Some scenes look better than others, especially daytime scenes (of which there are few), but it’s still a very watchable presentation.

Audio is available in English 2.0 Mono LPCM with optional English subtitles. It too carries its fair share of issues, mostly a bit of a hum, crackle, and mild distortion, but dialogue exchanges are perfectly adequate. Sound effects and score have decent heft to them, but they tend to get a little muddy in the final mix. It’s clear that the original sound elements were likely not available here either. Still, it’s a satisfactory track, all said and done.

The following extras are also included:

  • Audio Commentary with Tom McLoughlin and Michael Schroeder
  • Audio Commentary with Tom McLoughlin and Michael Hawes
  • Tom McLoughlin Revisits One Dark Night (HD – 16:15)
  • E.G. Daily Interview (HD – 32:03)
  • Nancy McLoughlin Revisits One Dark Night (HD – 10:53)
  • Hal Trussell Revisits One Dark Night (HD – 18:15)
  • Craig Stearns Revisits One Dark Night (HD – 10:40)
  • Michael Schroeder Revisits One Dark Night (HD – 14:42)
  • Paul Clemens Interview (HD – 17:07)
  • R.I.P.: Behind the Scenes Footage (SD – 38:53)
  • The Paul Clemens Scrapbook (HD – 3:28)
  • Alternate Director’s Cut/Workprint Version (SD – 89:55)
  • Trailer (HD – 2:16)
  • TV Spot (Upscaled SD – 0:29)
  • The Dark Trailer (HD – 2:52)
  • Mortuary Trailer (HD – 2:30)
  • The House on Sorority Row Trailer (Upscaled SD – 3:10)

The first audio commentary with director Tom McLoughlin and producer Michael Schroeder, which was recorded for the Code Red Blu-ray in 2017, is an entertaining listen as the two men energetically discuss the film and the making of it while watching it together, providing plenty of information about it along the way. The second audio commentary with Tom McLoughlin and co-writer Michael Hawes, which was recorded in 2006 for the Media Blasters/Shriek Show DVD release, is a decent enough listen and provides some of the same information, but is mixed too low at times in comparison to the feature audio, which drowns out the participants intermittently. A series of interviews follows, all carried over. Tom McLoughlin discusses where he got ideas for the story, the film’s opening, wanting to do a remake, his work outside of the horror genre, working on TV movies, and his final resting place. E.G. Daily talks about how her career started, getting the opportunity to work on the film, working with other cast members, her feelings about her work years later, and details about her experiences on other films and TV shows. Nancy McLoughlin discusses getting the film going, having to pretend not to be Tom McLoughlin’s girlfriend when working on his projects, the source of the toothbrush, members of the cast, reshoots, a fallout with Robin Evans, working with Meg Tilly, and a shocking encounter with Francis Ford Coppola. Hal Trussell talks about shooting the film, his approach and techniques, feeling double-crossed by the company who produced it, the experience of seeing it with different audiences, and his feelings on the film. Craig Stearns discusses how he became a production designer, his work on the film, other projects he’s worked on, and his fellow USC students. Michael Schroeder discusses his role as producer, information about the production, other films that he’s worked on, production issues and low tech solutions to problems, and his feelings on films made today. Paul Clemens talks about getting into makeup effects, being hired to work on the film, different techniques that he used and various effects that he did for the film, whether or not real skeletons were used, working with the cast and crew, and other films he’s worked on. Interestingly, you cannot access the Paul Clemens from the main menu. The only way to see it is to select the “Play All” option, which will play all of the interviews in order. R.I.P. features nearly forty minutes of random behind-the-scenes footage captured with a camcorder. In The Paul Clemens Scrapbook, he shows off his sculpting work via his portfolio. The workprint version of the film, titled Night in the Crypt, is in standard definition. It loses the entire opening credits sequence and flashback, features less of Olivia, alternate shots during the floating through the cemetery sequence, unfinished effects, temp score, and the original ending. The rest of the extras consist of the film’s trailer, TV spot, and trailers for other MVD titles. The disc is included in standard amaray casing with double-sided artwork, both sides featuring versions of two of the film’s release posters. Tucked away inside the package is a mini-poster featuring one of those artworks. Everything is housed within a slipcover, which features a recreation of the Thorn EMI VHS release artwork.

Tom McLoughlin’s One Dark Night is one of those 80s horror films that’s not in the top tier of genre works from that time, but it’s still kind of special in how simple and straightforward it is. It also goes a bit beyond the formula of teenagers in a haunted house, opting more for atmosphere than gore. And while it’s not totally successful, it’s still charming. The MVD release retains all of the Code Red extras, and adds a few of its own. The image could use a spit and polish, but it’s a nice release overall.

- Tim Salmons

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