Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)
Article #1502 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2005
Posting Date: 9-22-2005
Directed by John Newland
Featuring Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson

When a couple moves into an old house, the wife unbolts a small ash door in a bricked-up fireplace, and releases some small malevolent creatures who have sinister plans for her.

My experience with made-for-TV horror movies was rarely positive. When an ad for a made-for-TV movie caught my attention, I would tune in to watch it, but rarely was I really satisfied with the results; the Kolchak movies remained for me the sole exception to this experience. Eventually, I gave up on them; why waste time with these limp substitutions for horror movies when my local Creature Feature was showing the real thing on Saturday Nights?

Had I caught this movie as a kid, I might have had a better time of it; this is one that would have had me on the edge of my seat as a kid, and I’m sure that the warmth of my memories of this one would have been reflected in this review. Unfortunately, today marks the first time I’ve seen it, and though I think it works well enough, it still falls a little short. Though the fireplace monsters are unique and original creations, the surrounding story is a little too familiar; I’ve seen the subplot about the wife who isn’t getting enough attention from her career-obsessed husband several times before, the handyman (William Demarest in this case) who spends most of his screen time giving out vague warnings is also pretty cliched, and though the whispering voices of the creatures are suitably eerie, the movie overuses the concept. Still, I think anyone with fond memories of this one won’t be disappointed by a rewatching, and it is definitely one of the better made-for-TV horror movies out there.

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