Alone in the Dark ★★★★

Jack Sholder directed probably the worst of the Freddy movies, the homoerotic Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), but it's easy to see why he got the job when you watch Alone in the Dark, his previous directorial effort. This is a taut, exciting thriller that chucks almost everything into the mix... and works.

Jack Palance leads a trio of escaped mental patients (also featuring Martin Landau and Phillip Clark) on the hunt for Dwight Schultz's Dr. Potter, who recently replaced (and they think killed) their previous, well-liked carer. Donald Pleasance plays the asylum's man in charge, who has unwavering faith in his 'light' approach to detainment even despite the growing body count.

The combination of Palance, Landau and Pleasance is the reason you'll love Alone in the Dark; their performances are simultaneously creepy, bizarre and heartfelt, especially Palance as a former prisoner of war who suffers from paranoia. This isn't an acting masterclass, but horror films rarely are. Rather, the work that each of these three do elevates the subject matter to something not only watchable, but enjoyable.

Alone in the Dark is notable for being the first film released by New Line Cinema; Sholder would go on to direct his installment of Nightmare three years later, and also 1987's The Hidden with New Line, before being all but forgotten.

Rarely mentioned these days, this film is ripe for reconsideration. It's one of the gems of 1980s horror.