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The Dark

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Signet, New York, 1978
(price: $1.75; 188 pages + 8 pages of stills)

The blurb on the back:

You don't have to be scared of the dark. Just of what's in it...!
Nightfall in Los Angeles ...
A time for the city to wait ...
Wait for the next hideous murder ...
Wait for the next unspeakably savaged victim ... Wait for the next attack of horror by whatever twisted being or unnatural thing has made the hours between disk and dawn a time of terror - and placed an entire population under siege ...
You may never want to walk alone at night again.

Not to be confused with James Herbert's novel The Dark (one of his very best as it happens)†, this 1979 movie really wasn't much good. Aiming for something between the post-Hallowe'en stalk & slash genre and the Alien extra-terrestrial experience, it missed every target in sight. What stools do you want to fall between? What've you got?

So there's this seven-foot tall homicidal alien on the loose in LA, ripping people to pieces and ... er, that's it really. The cast included dependable William Devane and Cathy Lee Crosby, whose incarnation as Wonder Woman had been and gone by this stage, leaving her career somewhat stranded. The director was originally supposed to be Tobe Hooper, but in the event turned out to be John Bud Cardos. And that was probably where the source of the troubles lurked: replacing the man who gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the man responsible for Kingdom of the Spiders can only be seen as a retrograde step.

Given all this, it's quite impressive that a novelization emerged at all, let alone one with eight pages of movie stills. But that's what we've got. And a waste of our time it is as well, even if it's marginally better than the film.

Wonder Woman
Cathy Lee Crosby

Our American friends should also not confuse this piece with The Haunted House of Horror, a 1969 British film retitled The Dark in the US. That wasn't much cop either, but it had a certain style: a psycho-killer vision of swinging London, it brought together ex-pop stars Frankie Avalon and Mark Wynter with sitcom maestro Richard O'Sullivan and all-round divinity Dennis Price.


from the maker of:
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Starsky & Hutch