One Dark Night

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One Dark Night
One Dark Night.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed by Tom McLoughlin
Produced by Michael Schroeder
Written by
  • Michael Hawes
  • Tom McLoughlin
Music by Bob Summers
Cinematography Hal Trussell
Edited by
  • Michael Spence
  • Charles Tetoni
Distributed by Comworld Pictures
Release date
  • February 25, 1983 (1983-02-25)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $800,000[1]

One Dark Night is a 1983 American supernatural horror film directed by Tom McLoughlin and starring Meg Tilly, E.G. Daily, and Adam West. The film follows three teenage women sent to a mausoleum for the night as part of a high school initiation rite. A dead, telekinetic occultist returns from the dead and haunts them, forcing the three to survive the night inside the crypt.

The film was conceived and filmed under the title Rest in Piece before Poltergeist, but due to post-production problems, the film was delayed and was released in theaters in 1983 by Comworld Pictures.[2][3]


Six girls have been found murdered in the apartment of famed Russian occultist Karl Raymarseivich Raymar and the police cannot explain it. When Raymar's body was lifted onto a stretcher, bolts of electricity shot out from his fingers. His estranged daughter Olivia McKenna (Melissa Newman) and her husband Allan (Adam West) are unaware of this until they meet Samuel Dockstader (Donald Hotton), a feature writer for The World of the Occult; as a friend of Raymar, Dockstader explains that Raymar was a psychic vampire who gained great powers of telekinesis by kidnapping young girls, terrorizing them, and feeding off the bioenergy they produced. Allan does not believe him, but Dockstader shows Olivia a set of photographs to demonstrate how bioenergy works and gives her an audiotape that outlines his findings, which convinces Olivia to believe him.

Meanwhile, High school student Julie Wells (Meg Tilly) wants to be part of a club entitled The Sisters, which consist of three snobby high school girls named Carol (Robin Evans), Leslie (E.G. Daily), and Kitty (Leslie Speights). Unfortunately, Carol is the ex-girlfriend of Julie's new boyfriend Steve (David Mason Daniels), and is jealous. She intends to get back at Steve and Julie by making Julie spend a night alone in a mausoleum, unaware that Raymar's body was just entombed there. That evening, Julie is dropped off by only Carol and Kitty, as Leslie had refused to accompany them on the plan. Julie explores the mausoleum and sets up her sleeping bag, unaware of the cracks that appear around Raymar's vault.

Carol and Kitty, hoping to scare Julie, dress up in costumes and sneak back into the mausoleum. While they succeed in frightening Julie who locks herself in the chapel, they are unaware that Raymar is slowly reawakening by using his powers to make the walls shake, windows explode, and door slam shut. Before Carol and Kitty decide to leave, Raymar's powers open up the vaults containing coffins inside and many rotting cadavers telekinetically float and surround the girls before they pile on top of them to suffocate them.

Meanwhile, Steve has gone over to Julie's house to find her missing. He catches up with Leslie, who reluctantly tells Steve about Julie's initiation, and Steve angrily heads over to the mausoleum. At the same time, Olivia dashes over after learning about her father's powers and the possibility that she might also possess them. Back at the mausoleum, Raymar finally breaks out of his coffin and controls the rotting corpses and the doors with his psychic powers. Just when Steve breaks in and finds a hysterical Julie, they become surrounded by the cadavers that advance toward them. Steve tries to fight the corpses, but they knock him out. Raymar pulls a dazed Julie closer to him before Oliva arrives to save her. Ultimately, Olivia takes her compact and reflects the bolts from Raymar's eyes back at him, causing Raymar and the cadavers to disintegrate, saving Julie and Steve.

The three, including a now traumatized Julie, begin slowly walking out of the mausoleum. The film ends with Kitty's toothbrush seen near the mound of corpses inside the empty mausoleum before a corpse falls in front and emits a scream.


  • Meg Tilly as Julie Wells
  • Melissa Newman as Olivia McKenna
  • Robin Evans as Carol Mason
  • Leslie Speights as Kitty
  • Donald Hotton as Dockstader
  • E.G. Daily as Leslie Winslow
  • David Mason Daniels as Steve
  • Adam West as Allan McKenna
  • Rhio H. Blair as Coroner



Before becoming a director, Tom McLoughlin was a struggling scriptwriter and also starred in several minor roles in film including playing the monster in John Frankenheimer's 1979 horror film Prophecy. He worked with director Woody Allen in his 1973 film Sleeper. Not having much success with selling several comedy screenplays, McLoughlin and his friend Michael Hawes decided to make a gothic horror film similar to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. For inspiration McLoughlin drew upon his experience of exploring the catacombs in Paris, France when he was 19 years old, as McLoughlin recalled years later, "It was the first time that I ever felt psychological or supernatural fear. There was nothing there; there was nobody coming after me; but there was just something about knowing where I was and what I was surrounded by, that gave me a chill that was unforgettable".[1] McLoughlin and Hawes also came up with the idea of a group of people being trapped inside a mausoleum with a "psychic vampire" that fed on the life energy of the other members of the group. After a period of four years failing to sell the script to various studios McLoughlin and Hawes found a group of Mormon investors who were willing to finance the film for one million dollars on the condition that they started filming in three weeks.[1]


When searching for a lead actress to play the role of the film's heroine director McLoughlin had a specific vision for the film's heroine, "I wanted the classic beautiful blond geek girl who had a sense of innocence about her, and she was the one who was going to be tormented," he later recalled. After looking at actresses like Sharon Stone and Dominique Dunne, then 19-year-old actress Meg Tilly was cast for the role, and Batman actor Adam West was later cast for the role of the lead male character.[1]


Filming took place in Los Angeles over a period of 28 days both on sets and on location with a budget of $800,000. The film's impressive special effects for the corpses used in the film were designed by Tom Burman along with several other artists. On filming in the actual mausoleum McLoughlin recalled, "In all those mausoleum scenes, Meg really got freaked out. She did not want to be there, and she allowed all that fear to work, even though we went into a set for some special effects sequences. She still carried the same vibe with her that she had in the mausoleum. She raised the bar in the film."[1]

Post Production[edit]

During the film's post production the film was taken out of McLoughlin's hands and re-cut with the original ending removed. As McLoughlin recalled, "There was a version of the movie that wasn't shown in theaters, where there was this passing of Ramar's energies to the Meg Tilly character... In our version, she turns and we actually used Nastassia Kinski's eyes from Cat People. There was this look that made them look dead and animal-like to give the audience this chill that it's not over. She got whatever Ramar had in her now".[1]


The film, due to delays in post-production, finally achieved its release on February 25, 1983 and was released on VHS throughout the 1980s. Shriek Show released One Dark Night in January 2006.[4] It was released again in November 2007 in a three-pack with Girls Nite Out and Duck: The Carbine High Massacre.[5] The film was released on Blu-Ray from Code Red on August 15, 2017.[6]


Steve Barton of Dread Central rated it 4/5 stars and called it a guilty pleasure that is horrible in an endearing way.[2] TV Guide awarded the film 2/4 stars, commending McLouglin's direction, acting, and special make-up effects.[7] Annie Riordan of Brutal as Hell called it a dull and formulaic horror film, recommended only to hardcore fans of the cast.[8] Mike Long of DVD Talk rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote that the film would have made a better 30-minute short. Long highlighted the final sequence as the film's best, which is gory for a PG-rated film.[4] Bryan Pope of DVD Verdict called it "good, scary fun" and also highlighted the final gory sequence.[9] Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it a quirky horror film whose zombies parody the stereotypical actions of early 1980s zombies.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Muir, John Kenneth (2012). Horror Films of the 1980s. McFarland & Company. p. 341. ISBN 978-0-7864-5501-0. 
  2. ^ a b Barton, Steve (2006-02-17). "One Dark Night (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  3. ^ Glenn Kay (2012). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 334–. ISBN 978-1-61374-425-3. 
  4. ^ a b Long, Mike (2006-02-22). "One Dark Night". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Tim (2007-11-19). "Horror In Your House For Tuesday, November 20, 2007". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  6. ^ "One Dark Night (1983) Coming to Blu-Ray!". Cult Film Finder. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ "One Dark Night - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV TV Guide. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  8. ^ Riordan, Annie (2009-01-19). "One Dark Night (1983)". Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  9. ^ Pope, Bryan (2006-03-16). "One Dark Night". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  10. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6. 

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