Thursday, November 1, 2012
In the mid-1960's Leslie Nielsen was tapped for the lead for a show in which he would play occult investigator Brett Kingsford, who works surreptitiously with the police on bizarre bases calling for his expertise. A pilot was made, but when the show [which would have been a kind of forerunner to Kolchak, Night Stalker in every sense of the word as it takes place in the 19th century] called The Black Cloak, wasn't picked up by a network, it was released by Universal as a theatrical feature despite its short [59 min.] running time. In old San Francisco there have been a series of murders in which victims are clawed to death at the same time as the Ripper killings in London. Robert Vandenberg (Mark Richman), a friend of Kingsford's, is especially disturbed because he knows several of the victims, and his dizzy, annoyingly yapping fiancee Evelyn (Judi Meredith of Queen of Blood), has noticed a change come over him in recent weeks. Kingsford wonders if the murders are somehow connected to a deformed boy Vandenberg knew years ago who was brought to America from Bagdad to further his education but who suddenly disappeared. Other suspects include a weird professor of the occult (Werner Klemperer); a doctor who remarks upon the wounds left by the mysterious assailant (Vaughn Taylor); and Kingsford's diminutive man-servant Nikola (Charles Bolender). Dark Intruder is creepy, suspenseful and well-produced with a very good plot and cast and a satisfying wind-up. Nielsen is fine except for when he tries to affect a British accent and wouldn't convince a nine-year-old that he's from England.The screenplay is by Barre Lyndon, who also wrote the original stage play The Man in Half Moon Street, upon which that film was based. Hart also directed The Pyx, Bus Riley's Back in Town, and other theatrical films, and also did a great deal of work for television. He is not to be confused with Herk Harvey, who directed Carnival of Souls.
Verdict: Worthy supernatural mystery with interesting players. ***.