Retro Review: The People Who Own The Dark (1976)

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Post apocalyptic horror is a versatile sub-genre, as much hardcore horror as it is science fiction. Though this isn’t a genre that you can easily place in a Gothic setting, one film comes satisfyingly close, Leon Klimovski’s  The People Who Own The Dark.

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A group of rich Scientists and business men travel to the Villa Amour in a remote village for a sexual ritual in honor of the Marquis DeSade. Sure, it sounds like a party, but just as things are about to kick into high gear, there is a rumbling that shatters the excitement. They group heads upstairs only to find that everyone has been blinded by what appears to be a nuclear blast. Due to the fact that there was a celebration going on at the time of the blast, the entire town has been blinded as well. The men head out to scavenge for food before the radiation hits but run into the needy townsfolk. They are waiting for help and resent the sighted who are scavenging for their food. Soon the blind will come for what is theirs and the rich must fight to survive the hordes.

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This is one of my favorite Paul Naschy films simply because it’s different. The blind villagers present scary foes that of course are reminiscent of The Blind Dead, in fact, they crave the same things once rallied together. Though there is little blood to be seen, there is enough creepy death to keep you interested.

Paul Naschy actually isn’t the star here, but much like he does in The Hanging Woman, he steals every scene he is in. Alberto De Mendoza (Horror Express) is the man in charge and though he is all business, he isn’t his usual evil self. Maria Perschy as Lily, the Madam  of the Villa Amour holds the screen and really wishes she was on it more. The cast is fine though they have little time to grow as characters in the contained story.

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The People That Own The Dark has one of the oddest and most misleading posters in history. The names on the poster are all pseudonyms, making the cast sound more American, and then there is the listing of Sean S. Cunningham as a producer on the film! For those who don’t know, Sean S. Cunningham produced Friday The 13th and had NOTHING to do with this film.

This is the final collaboration between Paul Naschy and director Leon Klimovski and marks the end of an era for these two. As for the Overall, the film moves at a slow but deliberate pace until the final act where the horror takes over. Solid performances and an interesting setting that leans toward the typical European Gothic. It isn’t the best film out there but it has its fair share of moments. It’s well worth a look.