The dueling subplots in One Dark Night don’t actually connect until about three-quarters of the way through the movie, but when they do, something magical happens. The big subplot eats the little subplot.
Welcome back to the 1980s when teenagers were actually much older than they look. Golden boy Steve (David Mason Daniels) has got to be pushing 30, and his Queen Bee Bitch ex-girlfriend Carol (Robin Evans) is from a similar demongraphic.
Carol is the leader of a girl gang imaginatively named The Sisters, comprised of Leslie (E.G. Daily, forever known as Dottie, from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) and Kitty (Leslie Speights), a sassy black teen with a toothbrush in her mouth.
Hmmph. Three girls. Some gang.
The latest initiate into The Sisters, Julie (Meg Tilly, in her debut), is Steve’s new flame, so Carol cruelly demands that she spend an entire night in a mausoleum!
To add to her discomfort, Kitty gives Julie Demarol, a powerful painkiller, instead of the sleeping pills she promised. All the better for her to be in a tripped-out state of mind when the other girls sneak back into the mausoleum to frighten her with their lame ghost costumes.
Mean girls. Always been a thing.
The other narrative involves the death of a famous Russian psychic named Raymar, recently discovered alongside a pile of dead girls. The psychic’s daughter Olivia (Melissa Newman) is warned by a mysterious albino (Donald Hotton) that her father had figured out how to drain “bio energy” from people and save it up to return from the grave.
Which he does.
By the time Raymar, crackling with psychic energy, kicks his way out of the crypt, Julie is high as a kite and her tormentors are getting mobbed by freshly revived corpses.
Coffins come springing out of the walls revealing folks in various states of decomposition who quickly dogpile on Kitty and Carol, smothering them in rotting flesh. Ewwww!
It’s this twisted, nightmarish conclusion to One Dark Night that rescues a small-scale, perfunctory movie that’s also bereft of blood and guts. A modest round of applause goes to writer-director Tom McLaughlin for successfully pulling his fat out of the fire.
Moral of the Story: Even if you’re a budget-strapped director with maxed-out credit cards, you need to deliver on some horrific level to get respect around these part.
Editor’s Note: Fans of 60s-era Batman will be disappointed in the amount of screen time allotted to Adam West, as Olivia’s husband. He doesn’t get to do shit.