Bill Van Ryn from Groovy Doom/Drive-In Asylum explained this movie short and sweet: “It’s like an episode of Kolchak: the Night Stalker without Kolchak.” It’s also about the press freaking out about an eight-foot-tall alien who is killing people who eyebeam lasers in the dirty and dingy streets of Los Angeles. It was originally about an autistic child who never met people before. It was also originally to be directed by Tobe Hooper. Things kind of didn’t happen that way.
John “Bud” Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders, Gor II) stepped in to direct. And realizing that his movie now had an alien instead of a child, he hastily put together an opening narration that talks about electric eels and Venus fly traps. If our planet has those, what about other worlds? What that has to do with the rest of the film, well, your guess is as good as mine.
What we end up with is a monster that beheads people while someone chants, “The dark! The dark!” William Devane (Greg Sumner from TV’s Knot’s Landing) and a TV anchorwoman (original Wonder Woman and That’s Incredible host Cathy Lee Crosby) finally figure out how to catch the monster. Oh yeah — there’s also an ancient psychic who believes that a young actor will be the next to be killed, so we get some 70’s Hollywood parties along the way. Casey Kasem shows up. Keenan Wynn and Richard Jaeckel, too.
Roger Ebert referred to this movie as, “the dumbest, most inept, most maddeningly unsatisfactory thriller of the last five years. It’s really bad: so bad, indeed, that it provides some sort of measuring tool against which to measure other bad thrillers. Years from now, I’ll be thinking to myself: Well, at least it’s not as bad as The Dark.”
I really didn’t think it was that bad. It’s not the best movie ever, but I was certainly entertained. Not riveted. But entertained. But how can you hate a movie where a giant alien shoots laser beams out of his eyes and rips peoples’ heads off so that the coroner can put them in body bags (along with mini head bags)?
You can watch it yourself on Amazon Prime or grab the Code Red blu ray at Diabolik DVD.
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