INTO THE DARKNESS
Director: David Kent-Watson
Year of release: 1986
Country of origin: UK/Malta
Running time: 90 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: I'm not sure if it has an official release (I found a made on demand copy). It does seem to have an alternative German DVD title though.
Also known as: Poison and Der Mannequin Killer
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Starting with a prologue in Malta a young boy is distraught to learn that his Mother is a prostitute by profession. This revelation seems to shape the youngster into a dangerous individual with a murderous lust for loose women. We see evidence of this in the next scene which jumps forward to the present day in London. Through a POV angle we see an escort menaced with a knife presumably by the same troubled child now grown into a violent murderer.
Next we’re introduced to Jeff, a struggling West End actor who is coerced into taking a job as a male model in an effort to pay off his debts. Along with a small photography team Jeff will be working with four female glamour models with the shoot fortuitously set to take place over in Malta. Not long after arriving the group find themselves being stalked and systematically eliminated by an unseen killer. The woman hating psycho has followed them over to his former home it seems to continue his London killing spree in more sentimental territory.
Good points: *For such an obscure film which has virtually sunk without trace since its late eighties release it actually has a very solid catchy soundtrack. Many of the songs are credited to Chris Rae and I found them mostly enjoyable and they were paired up well I thought with the scenes they accompanied. Towards the end in the finale in particular there is also some effective suspense type music as well. It sounds a lot like some of the music and sound from Halloween but despite the familiarity it adds some extra bite to the latter scenes.
*The Mediterranean backdrop certainly helps the film distinguish itself. There is some really nice photography on display with lots of nice looking shots of sun drenched Malta. As well as attractive coastal scenery some local culture is also highlighted and even some The Prey style wildlife shots crop up from time to time. Early on for example viewers are treated to the unique sight of a horse taking a dust bath.
*Unfortunately there is no mask or costume for the killer but this is partly made up for by the workable mystery angle with several possibilities as to who the killer might be. In total five male characters are in the mix once the action reaches Malta and all five could potentially be the killer. Among these is Halloween legend Donald Pleasance who plays a kooky old guy who follows the models and crew around constantly. He puts in a hammy and entertaining performance and there is also another character early on played by Ron Lacey who again is fun to watch. Going back to the mystery though I was never 100% sure who the killer would turn out to be so it did its job of keeping me on my toes until the reveal.
Bad Points: *It’s a really tame film unfortunately with the nudity which is somewhat surprising taking into account it features both escorts and glamour models. Though this is only a small niggle far worse is that it’s also severely lacking when it comes to the murders. One visceral Psycho style kill aside its very disappointing with much of the violence happening off camera. Maybe they overspent on the soundtrack and in luring in Donald Pleasance so didn’t have anything left for the special effects. It’s the one key area where it’s majorly lacking with the low budget shining through for all to see.
*This is one of those films with a joint final boy and girl with actor Jeff being the male lead and one of the models, a more inexperienced shy one by name of Debbie being his female counterpart. Though Jeff is okay or at least watchable in part because of his oversized moustache I found Debbie both wishy-washy and forgettable. I don’t think she had enough dialogue to put across much of a personality and in the latter scenes she acted too weak. Instead of rising up and fighting back as you’d expect she spent most of the time crying and cringing away from danger.
*After learning in the prologue about the kid being distressed to find out about his mothers profession I didn’t feel as if anywhere near enough was done to illustrate exactly why that set him on the path to madness. I’d have liked to have seen flashbacks of the killer as a kid being effected by the antics of his wanton mother but it wasn’t built upon anymore after the opening segment. There was though an opportunity to showcase a bit more as with each kill there’s a blink and you’ll miss it type flashback but this was just a repeat of something already seen in the beginning. Instead of recycling this same bit of footage I’d have preferred to see something new shown each time that explained a little more about his troubled childhood.
Note and spoiler: In the event that you saw my Into the Darkness video review I mentioned there about having an extra bad point which I’d discuss here instead of in the video as not to go into heavy spoiler territory. After going back and re-checking a couple of scenes within the film however I was mistaken about something so it wasn’t a problem after all but more my mistake. For what it’s worth I was going to say that the car thing didn’t make sense as we’re led to believe the car of the Donald Pleasance character in current day Malta is a vehicle owned by the killers family seeing that we see the killer (then a kid) being driven around in it in the prologue. I thought it was the same car in any case but after going back I noticed it was the same model of car but not the same colour. It’s done of course to make us think Pleasance is the killer himself with some sort of connection to the boy and his mother from back in early day Malta but when we find out who the real killer is there is no connection to Pleasance. I was going to say that if there’s no connection then why are the cars the same but then I later noticed the colour difference (cream initially and grey later). Even if it were supposed to be the same car then it was 20 plus years ago so I guess it’s feasible the Pleasance character could have been working as a chauffeur or taxi driver back then before getting into the swimwear/modelling business. It’s a bit confusing but not a proper bad point as I first thought.
Verdict: I’d been looking for this one for a long time and was surprised to eventually stumble across it when carrying out a periodic eBay search. After anticipating it for a while I was worried it may be anticlimactic but it wasn’t half bad and largely kept me entertained for the running time. There are some cheesy fun characters, a solid whodunnit mystery with multiple suspects and a good soundtrack. It is let down somewhat by some very underwhelming deaths and a forgettable final girl but it’s well worth checking out if you can find a copy.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Blonde prostitute: Menaced with knife (presumably killed off camera).
2)Diane: Strangled in her car from behind.
3)Rosie: Attacked from behind (throat cut maybe) at tourist attraction temple. Actual killing strike off camera. Body buried under rocks.
4)Angie: Suffocated with a pillow in hotel room and stomach slashed with knife. Body dumped in the sea and later found by Susan.
5)Susan: Stabbed to death Psycho style in the shower/bath.
6)Liam: Punched by Jim. Falls and hits his head and seems to die from the impact.
7)Jim? Wasn’t completely sure if this character actually died but he’s last seen fighting with the killer so is presumably killed off camera.
8)Mr Beckett: Found dead (hanging upside down I think) by Debbie.
Review added on the 8th of June 2020.