Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Dark, Wonder Woman and Casey Kasem

Before Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman, Cathy Lee Crosby performed as this superhero.  As the TV movie became a TV show, Carter took over, leaving Crosby looking for other work...which she found.  In addition to being with Joe Theismann for seven years, she did a lot of TV shows. Before Theismann (former Redskin quarterback) ruined her financially, she starred in a quirky 1979 horror yarn called "The Dark." This film features William Devane as a sad horror writer, Richard Jaeckel as a LAPD detective, Casey Kasem as a grouchy pathologist, and it was produced by Dick Clark.  Directed by John "Bud" Cardos ("Kingdom of the Spiders") and a non-credited Tobe Hooper ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), "The Dark" is an effective B Movie which conjures up great images of the 1970s.
As our tale begins, a clean-cut, but cute, young lady is torn to shreds by an alien while strolling home from a late night movie.  The girl was the daughter of horror writer Steve Dupree (Devane).  Detective Mooney (Jaeckel) is on the case.  Coincidentally, he put Dupree away for three years after Dupree killed a man he found in bed with his wife.  Dupree wants to track down the killer and has no faith in Mooney's ability. Meanwhile, Zoe Owens (Crosby) is a TV news reporter who is sick of covering swimsuit shoots.  She nags at her producer, Sherm (Keenan Wynn), to allow her to cover this killing.  Sherm reminds Owens (the former Miss Pasadena Rose Garden) that the only reason she has viewers is that men are trying to figure out how to get into her pants.  Alas, the sexual harassment laws were not as strict in the 1970s.  The only lead in the case is a psychic named DeRenzy who claims to know the killer's (now nicknamed The Mangler) next victim.  The Mangler then decapitates a warehouse worker, a pretty stewardess, and a bar-hopping schmuck.  The alien is also equipped with eyes that shoot deadly laser beams, as our unfortunate stewardess discovered the hard way.
   The only leads to the killer's identity came from a grouchy coroner (Kasem).  He informs Mooney that the suspect has gray skin and has no blood (a zombie).  This hits the press and the city panics.  Zoe and Dupree meet and do not hit it off well, as the pretty reporterette blows him off.  No matter, their second meeting results in wine, soft jazz, kissing and intimacy.  Together they find the young actor who DeRenzy claims is the next victim, and follow him believing he will lead them to The Mangler.  Detective Mooney is following Dupree, so there is a venerable caravan heading to an exciting final confrontation at an abandoned L.A. monastery.
Will the very stylish and pretty Zoe Owens win an Emmy for her reporting on The Mangler?  Will she do it alive or posthumously?  Who will now cover swimsuit shoots now that Owens is otherwise assigned?  The movie has some interesting devices.   For example, when The Mangler is near, strange whispering is used as background noise.  This whispering seems to utter a Latin phrase and then the word "Daaaaaaaarkness." Crosby is beautiful, and her stylish wardrobes are very pleasing to the eye. "The Dark" never succeeded at the box office and to this day most horror aficionados have not seen it.  Good acting, menacing kills, a cool alien, and lots of great 1970s memories make "The Dark" a must see to all you B Movie fans.        

1 comment:

  1. The cast, alone, makes me want to check this classic B flick out! Thanks for the review!