‘Dark of the Sun’ or — A Passage to Hell?

Colin Edwards
3 min readJun 1, 2024


I’ve the hunch ‘Dark of the Sun’ (1968) might not qualify as what you’d technically call a “good movie”. Crude, brutal, vulgar and as subtle as a brick to the balls this is one of those action films were you suspect every actor was permanently pissed and everything’s so manly we’re not sure if that’s sweat glistening on their faces or their excess testosterone leaking out. Even the film’s (admittedly awesome) posters look like they could punch you in the face.

It’s a jazzy heist movie in the hell that’s the 1960’s Congo where chainsaw wielding Nazis are on YOUR side and you don’t know if it’s the politics or the diamonds that’ll get you killed.

Capt. Bruce Curry (Rod Taylor), professional mercenary, is hired by the Congolese President (Calvin Lockhart) to rescue the European inhabitants stranded in a remote mining town before the rebels arrive and massacre them. Curry’s main objective, however, is to secure and return the $50 million in diamonds in the town’s vault so they can be used to finance the fight against the insurgents.

For the film’s first half it plays out pretty much as your typical mercenary action flick with nothing much to recommend it outside of some nice cinematography (the film was directed by legendary cameraman Jack Cardiff), an excellent score by Jacques Loussier and several gutsy performances.

Then two things happen that drastically alter everything and nothing can prepare you for what this film does next.

The first is discovering the safe containing the diamonds opens on a timer meaning there’s a three hour wait and all the while the murderous forces are moving closer. It practically transforms the movie into a ticking-clock heist job and the energetic use of editing, music and sound during this sequence ramps the tension up to a remarkable degree. It’s also this moment where we realise how perfectly paced this film is.

The second is when the attempt to evacuate the townsfolk encounters a “problem” (I don’t think the sight of wheels slowly rolling backwards, and what means for those onboard, has ever been so sickening) and immediately any sense of ‘derring-do’ or ‘bravado’ is replaced by an orgiastic catastrophe of death and fornication. I’d compare it to a horror movie but it’s unimaginably worse because we know atrocities more unimaginable than this happened, and this is a holocaust American and European involvement has helped instigate (maybe it’s fitting we’re in the company of a Nazi after all?).

The nihilism exceeds that of ‘The Wild Bunch’ (1969) with a counter slaughter not driven by honour but diamonds and cold, hard cash. Is this all Curry cares about?

At the climax we finally discover there is something Curry cares about, and so deeply it’s a form of love. The way he smashes his jeep across the landscape is powered by such a murderous lust it’s almost sexual in its intensity, one that can only come from a vengeful lover (why do you think that soundtrack is so heart-breakingly yearnful?).

‘Dark of the Sun’ is a sadistic, nasty, overwhelming experience that could be repulsively unwatchable if it didn’t have something to say. A great score, muscular editing and a strong cast (Jim Brown, Kenneth More) hook the attention. Just be warned as the dark of the sun is as black as the abyss.



Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.