Seven years after the success of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the Spaniards decided to make their own, little-seen version under the steady hand of Leon Klimovsky (the guy who made my favourite Spanish film of all time, SHADOW OF THE WEREWOLF). While not a classic movie - and certainly not up there with Klimovsky's best horror output - this is still a classy, solid thriller which is bolstered by some good performances and an excellent music score which varies between classical music, repeated piano notes to generate suspense (just like in EYES WIDE SHUT) and typical lounge music for the lighter moments. Indeed it is this film's music which adds a lot to the suspense and atmosphere of the film; that and the beautiful Spanish countryside and the expensive-looking echoey mansion in which much of the action takes place which provide the chills and thrills that this movie is striving for.
Things open with a bunch of assorted B-movie types assembling in the dank cellar of a country mansion to re-enact some Marquis de Sade type-behaviour. They are rudely interrupted in their endeavours by a sudden earthquake which, it turns out, was caused by some nuclear explosions. When the men travel to the location village to get supplies, they discover that the populace has turned blind (similar to DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS). One of them can't hack it and ends up shooting down a bunch of blind folk before he himself is killed.
Re-assembling back at the mansion, the group are horrified to find themselves the only unhurt survivors in the vicinity. One doctor is so upset that he loses his mind completely and crawls around naked on his hands and knees (a pretty funny moment, it has to be said). A young couple take a car and travel into the village to help the blind people but are attacked and killed - just like like that similar scene in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. After a fairly slow pacing up until now with little action, all hell breaks loose when the blind surround and attack the mansion, quickly forcing their way in by driving a car through the doors. The survivors escape into the cellar and then the countryside after a fire rages out of control. Tensions fray within the group...
Although the basic plot is little more than a nicely-packaged rip-off, this movie does have some nice macabre touches to it. In one instance, the blind smash a hole in the ceiling of a room and drop the bloodied corpses of their first victims through! Later on, a black girl is assaulted by a creepy-looking blind beggar (complete with fake stubble) who tears her eyes out in a fit of jealousy! The downbeat ending is again a rip-off, but is surprisingly understated and effective and is a neat precursor to later conspiracy thrillers in which the government is not to be trusted.
The acting is pretty good for a change, with all of the cast having fun with their admittedly clichéd roles. The women (including genre stalwart Maria Perschy) are given strong characters for a change and each person is given a specific role to play with no chance of the viewer getting confused between them. Stealing the acting honours again is genre icon Paul Naschy who plays a gun enthusiast. Naschy proves himself to be a tough and powerful member of the group. As a whole his performance just lifts the film. THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK passes the time well, proves to be an interesting adaptation of Matheson's I Am Legend, and, while not one to stay in the mind afterwards, delivers all the chuckles and chills that a fun B-movie should.
Review by Leofwine_draca from the Internet Movie Database.