Greetings, readers. Today’s film is a potentially sleazy little slice of Eurotrash, from Argentinian ex-pat director Leon Klimovsky, who directed such Paul Naschy epics as THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN and DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN. And speaking of Spain’s Lon Chaney, Naschy appears into today’s film, though in a supporting role rather than the lead, and sans fangs and werewolf hair — though who knows, by the time the film is over I may wish he was playing Waldemar Daninsky in this! We shall see…
The film opens on Borne (Naschy), a military man as he enjoys some casual target shooting — blasting away at pigeons being released for precisely that purpose. He soon grows bored and returns to the castle where he’s staying. A number of other businessmen, their wives, doctors, etc. are staying there as well — it seems there’s a party going on, and only the wealthy are invited.
In a subplot, all of Russia’s ambassadors are rushing back to Moscow. Is this an empty threat, or actual preparation for The Big One?
Meanwhile, in the main plot, everyone goes down into the basement for some sort of rubber-masked ritual. Right before it turns into a Jess Franco-style orgy, there’s a deep, earthquake-like rumbling. Returning to the surface, they discover that the servants, animals, everyone who wasn’t underground has been blinded by a brief nuclear war!
The rich assholes from the manor decide to head to town to grab supplies before the radiation hits, and discover that everyone is blind. One of the assholes gets into a shoving match with some blind people, which turns into a brawl that leaves a couple people dead!
The assholes get their supplies, but start to go insane from the mental strain of being the last sighted people in town, and surviving a nuclear blast. A fat hairy doctor bugs out and starts running around on all fours naked! Just completely out of left field, he bugs out and turns into an animal!
Meanwhile, a beggar who’d been blind for years organizes the newly-sightless into an angry mob and leads them against the rich asshole-populated manor house. As the grasping hands of the blind reach through boarded-up windows and radiation settles around them…will any survive?
It had potential, readers. It had potential, and just…didn’t go anywhere with it. Borrowing heavily from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE CRAZIES, but without the social commentary of either, THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK is just sort of a meandering “immediately after the apocalypse” film. Most of the characters you just don’t care about, even when you’re supposed to. The “hero,” or “protagonist” I suppose would be a better term here, Professor Fulton (Alberto de Mendoza), is a bland kind of schmoe who spends a lot of his time staring morosely at an anthill, using it as a “Geiger counter” on the grounds that when radiation comes to them, the ants will retreat deep underground.
There’s little nudity and almost no gore, which will leave most of the Eurotrash fans who would seek this film out cold and uninterested. There’s a subplot in the beginning about the rich assholes getting together for an orgy in honor of the Marquis de Sade that I wish more had been done with.
Final Analysis: Kind of a bland film, but the fat naked maniac and Paul Naschy managed to spice it up somewhat. But man, if he’d been Waldemar Daninsky, Werewolf in this one…!
Overall, I give THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976)…
TWO BARRELS OF TOXIC WASTE.