Saturday, March 28

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

Directed by John Newland
74 Minutes / U.S.A. Home Entertainment / 1.33:1 Full Frame

A young couple inherits an old home from relatives and soon finds little mysteries surround the building. There's a locked door upstairs with no keys and in the basement a chimney stands bricked up and bolted tightly. The wife, Sally (Kim Darby), has designs to remodel the basement including tearing out the old concrete eyesore, but an elderly handyman whose been maintaining the house for years advises against it. When pressed, the man shys away from giving a solid reason, but soon Sally will know the terrifying truth when she secretly unhinges the ash door. Whispered, sourly demonic voices begin to haunt her and she starts to see tiny creatures scampering about plotting her demise...

This is one of the very few films that I can clearly imagine leaving a lasting impression upon most who see it. Either the older set who see it once and for years seek to experience again or kids who had night terrors for years afterward. The scared-off-by-light creatures look like a cross between Pinhead from the Puppet Master series and that creepy mummy/zombie from Tool's Sober music video--wearing ape suits. May sound a bit silly, but there is a certain feeling of the willies seeing them amble around in shadows with little implements of doom.

I'm unsure this would have quite worked in feature length, so thankfully it feels like all the (nonexistent) boring and needless bits have been omitted. Also must respect the conclusion which I won't say a peep about. Definitely worth tracking down and yet another example of '70s made-for-television features kicking all sorts of spooky ass.

Film: 7.5/10
VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 5/10

1 comment:

Rev. Fred Phantom said...

A lot of people have told me that this film scared the hell out them as a kid. By the time I saw it I was in my twenties, so it didn't have the same effect for me--but still, I can understand why it left such an impression on people. For a 70's TV movie it's still a pretty cool horror flick.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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