I’ve been reading about THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (a.k.a. THE LAST DESIRE) for years without ever setting eyes on a copy. If my recollections are right Sinister Cinema has been selling a copy for years but Video Watchdog has warned that it was the cut down American import version. I know of no DVD release of it anywhere in the world so again my lack of patience rears its ugly head and its bootleg time once more.
I’m not sure if the print I have is uncut but I kept a watchful eye and I couldn’t find any big plot jumps or story gaps in evidence. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things missing but I’m hoping it was complete. It certainly seemed whole and it definitely lives up to its good reputation.
Of course the reason I first became interested in this one was because of Paul Nacshy’s role as a rich jerk who likes his guns. Nacshy was a hired man on this film having no input on the script but I like to think he could spot a good thing when he saw it. That he had worked with director Leon Klimovsky before is a good indicator of why he might have had confidence in the film. This is a solid piece of apocalyptic science fiction in the vein of ON THE BEACH with a bit of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and a few other better known end-of the-world thrillers. Its very well paced and smartly played with the story carefully whittling down the mostly unsympathetic characters until two of the least hateful …….but then I shouldn’t give too much away. It’s quite good and for fans of these kinds of doomsday tales it is highly recommended.
I’ll give a brief synopsis. A group of wealthy folks gather for their annual weekend of hedonistic De Sade inspired debauchery at a secluded castle. Owned by one of the decadent group it sports a large set of underground catacombs in which the participants drink, drug and fornicate themselves into a stupor. But this year’s festivities are just getting started when a large boom sounds outside the place rattling the buildings foundations. When they investigate they find that everyone above ground at the time of the far off nuclear blast is blind from the flash. Realizing that they can wait out the eventual fallout in the catacombs they quickly ride down to the nearest town for supplies to discover that the entire town’s population is blind. A stupid bit of arrogance from one of the sighted people causes a violent outburst and the wealthy have to retreat quickly. From there on it’s just a question of who will survive and how.
Suitably downbeat and very engrossing I found this film to be one of the best of its type. Indeed I’d go so far as to call it a near classic and after a re-watch soon I may think better of it. This is a little seen gem that really deserves to be discovered by genre fans.