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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The People who own the Dark (1976)

Before I start I want to thank Tim Gross of Gross Movie Reviews for recommending this movie. I’m a huge Paul Naschy fan and I had never heard of the People who own the Dark before. Now to the good stuff. This is an interesting take on the end of the world movies that were popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Here we have a uniquely European take on the genre. See when the atom bombs drop people die or go blind except our main characters. They survive because they were in a sex dungeon about to have some fun... I did say it was a European take on the genre!

We are introduced to our characters. Some are wealthy men and some are women who need money. They come together in an old estate for “pure pleasure” with the only rules being that whatever happens has to be in front of everyone. I suppose this is the mechanism that they use to keep things from getting out of hand. Though we will never know since as soon as the first dress hits the floor an explosion happens. That would be the atomic bombs falling. Everyone who wasn’t in the dungeon is now blind and/or dying. One of the survivors is a scientist named Fulton who knows what to do. First, they need to stock up on food before the radiation reaches them. Then the problems start.

When they go to town one of the survivors goes a bit nutty and starts stabbing and shooting the townsfolk who are alive, but blinded by the blast. This obviously leads to some issues and eventually the townspeople make their way to the estate and lay siege to it. Now our survivors need to fight off the blind, angry, and fearless locals out to get revenge. This leads to some infighting, shooting, betrayal, and the other things that always seem to happen in end of the world flicks.

I’ll start off with the bad. The pacing of the People who own the Dark is uneven. There is a section in the middle that is sort of boring. We get to see people making eyes at each other and have one awkward European sexy scene with far too much tongue on tongue action. I was also disappointed that Paul Naschy plays second banana in a supporting role as the troublemaker of the group. To me he was the most interesting member of the cast and we all know what he can do when given some screen time.

Time to shoot the locals!
That said I found most of the movie to be fun. The premise of the bombs dropping and survivors turning on each other out of paranoia is familiar but has a new twist here. I mean basically these were powerful men out to have sex with available women for money. That dynamic is odd, sleazy, and interestingly different from what we normally get. This strangeness is continued with one doctor who loses his mind after the visit to the town. You will randomly see him naked on all fours growling like a dog. Why? I guess he went crazy, but in a harmless way.

I also rather enjoyed the siege of the estate. These are people who are led by a man who was already blind. He has the skills to locate and attack those that came into town and stole the food. They don’t just pound on the doors but use a car to smash a wall down, smash thru windows and doors, and use gas to burn them out. They aren’t dumb zombies or infected but people who are driven mad by the loss of their sight and don’t seem to care anymore. When they do get their hands on one of the survivors it gets gruesome. I mean they can see and the locals can’t so it is obvious what the payback is going to be.  

The ending is a real kick in the butt. You think that things might turn out well for Fulton and one of the women who escapes with him. But it doesn’t. This movie has a distinct Day of the Triffids (everyone blind) and The Crazies (ending) vibe to it that wasn’t at all what I expected. You can find The People Who Own the Dark pretty easily and I recommend that you do. It is worth a watch.

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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