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People Who Own the Dark, The

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Spanish/US film (1976; 1980 US). Original title Ultimo deseo; vt Planeta Ciego. Cinematic Releasing Corporation (US). Produced by Jorge Luis Renena Tomayo (Spain), Sean S Cunningham (US). Directed by Léon Klimovsky. Written by Gabriel Moreno Burgos (credited as Gabriel Burgos), Vicenta Aranda and Joaquim Jordà. Cast includes Alberto de Mendoza, Teresa Gimpera, Nadiuska, Paul Naschy (credited as Paul MacKay), Tomás Picó and Julia Saly. 94 minutes; cut to 82 minutes for US release. Colour.

A group of wealthy businessmen and high-ranking military officials gathers at a remote castle in Spain for a weekend of debauchery dedicated to the Marquis de Sade. While they are in the cellar enjoying themselves to the maximum, nuclear World War Three devastates Europe, ironically sparing the Underground revellers. On emerging they find that those locals not killed outright have been blinded and turned into Zombie-like creatures. The group of survivors holes up in the villa to await the inevitable attack that night, when they are picked off by the deranged creatures; everyone dies in a thoroughly downbeat ending.

This obvious variation on The Night of the Living Dead (1968) also shows the influence of The Day of the Triffids (1962) and perhaps The Omega Man (1971), at least as regards the appearance of the radiation-poisoned townspeople. Naschy was perhaps the best-known horror-film star outside the English-speaking nations during the 1970s, appearing in a long series of low-budget Spanish horror films which received some US release on the drive-in movie circuit. The uncut print of The People Who Own the Dark is not easily found; both versions are disturbing. [GSt]


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