Out of the Darkness (1978)

aka Night Creature
Article 4470 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-10-2014
Directed by Lee Madden
Featuring Donald Pleasence, Nancy Kwan, Ross Hagen
Country: USA
What it is: Wild animal on the loose saga

A famous big-game hunter, shamed by having become frightened during a hunt for a dangerous leopard, has the beast captured and taken to his island. He dismisses all his servant, and then releases the animal so he can have one final showdown with it. Then members of his family unexpectedly show up…

You know, when you’re engaged on a project like mine, you find yourself encountering the same stories over and over again so often that you find yourself welcoming any one that is different enough to provide some variety. This one has a premise novel enough to qualify, and therefore I found myself liking this one more than I probably should. That’s not to say that I don’t see problems with it. The script and direction often misfire, with certain themes left underdeveloped, other themes handled with total lack of subtlety (we only really need to see the hunter’s and leopard’s face in double exposure ONCE, thank you), a little too much padding here and there, overused effects (they use what I suspect is the same shot of the leopard’s face in the darkness at least ten times), and an inability to really tap into the suspense inherent in the premise. I am glad that it works occasionally, and much of this has to do with Pleasence’s performance. Of course, there’s also the issue as to whether this is strictly genre or not. The leopard might be considered a monster of sorts, but I’m not sure the movie does anything with the hint that the beast might be supernatural, nor do I know whether the hints of a psychic link between the hunter and the leopard is enough to make it qualify. Still, it did lend a little variety to my recent viewing schedule.


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