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The Dark Power

The Dark Power concerns shenanigans surrounding a house built over a bit of sacred ground (in North Carolina, no less) where four Toltec warriors had been buried alive, a thousand years before. The original caretaker of the house, a native American named Cody, has died, leaving the house to his son, who promptly rents it out to college students. A group of pretty young ladies and one smart- aleck dude (the brother of one of the girls) take lodging and make themselves comfortable. Soon afterward, however, comes the Night of Darkness - some sort of mysteriously-foretold night when the four Toltecs - the Dark Powers - would rise from their burial grounds and spread evil. The zombies manage to kill most of the young people before being subdued with the help of some conveniently-placed ceremonial daggers - oh, and also with the help of the elderly, whip-wielding local ranger.

Lash Larue The Dark Power was a very-small-budget horror film shot in North Carolina, with what were apparently non-actors (or amateur actors) in all of the roles - all but one: the kindly ranger was played by none other than Lash Larue, 1950's Western hero of movies, radio, and comic books, who fought with a whip rather than a gun (Larue was also one of the executive producers). More of a comedy than a horror film, DP apparently put every dollar in its budget right up there on the screen. One gets the feeling that most of the young actors really were college students; and in looking at the end credits, a lot of names are repeated as people took on different chores related tot he film.

That being said, The Dark Power is really a fun movie to watch, in that wonderful 'good-bad movie' kind of way. Much of the dialog is campy and juvenile (and emoted with slick North Carolina accents); the zombies were obviously big guys in rubber masks; Larue seems to be the genuinely nice, gravelly-voiced old geezer that you would want him to be. A good 60% of the film seems to center around the young ladies moving into the house and deciding how to get along together, which is where most of the bad dialog comes in. The Toltecs' Revenge in the climax of the film is where most of the annoying characters get killed, and I found myself cheering each arrow to the head and tomahawk to the abdomen. (Also, it should be noted, there is a fair bit o' female skin shown.)

Al 'Lash' Larue had never picked up a bullwhip before appearing in the Western Song of Old Wyoming in 1945, but took it upon himself to learn the weapon, and (with the help of a trainer hired by the studio) soon came to master it. Known as the King of the Bullwhip - a title of probably his best-known film - Larue (with sidekick Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and horse Black Diamond in the early films) eventually appeared in over 32 movies, including Ghost Town Renegades and Please Don't Touch Me (aka Teenage Bride). A comic book devoted to his adventures debuted in 1949, eventually lasting 46 issues. Lash Larue died in 1996.

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