Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

1973

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

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67%

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Total Count: 6

58%

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User Ratings: 897
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Movie Info

An old housea mysterious locked room a terrifying secret. Elements that make a horror movie memorably chilling get a taut, spooky reworking in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Kim Darby (True Grit) and Jim Hutton (The Green Berets) star as Sally and Alex, young marrieds who inherit a crumbling mansion. Despite warnings to leave well enough alone in her new home, Sally unlocks the mysterious room, opens a bricked-up fireplace and unleashes a horde of hideous, whispering, murdering mini-demons only she can see and hear. Alex thinks she's imagining things. We know she isn't. And we know Sally should be very, very afraid of the dark!

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News & Interviews for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Critic Reviews for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

All Critics (6) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

  • Jun 14, 2013
    Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is one of the finest haunted house films in the genre. For a made for TV affair, this is a fine example of using atmosphere to create tension on-screen. The cast here is wonderful, and for its short run time, the film is truly an impressive piece of cinema that though might seem a bit dated, is still a terrifying horror experience that will delight genre fans looking for a well crafted haunted house horror tale. This is one of those rare films that actually can terrify a viewer and is among the finest pictures in the genre. With a great performance by Kim Darby, this made for TV film is one of those forgotten classics that deserves to be rediscovered by a wider audience. The tense atmosphere adds to the film enjoyment and it serves up bone chilling terror the way a horror film is supposed to. The supernatural elements here work well to keep you on the edge of your seat, and the great performances from its cast elevate this film significantly. If you love haunted house films, then seek this one out as this is among the classics that defined the genre. The film's story is very interesting and well layered to create a unique experience. Haunted house films are often hard to pull off, but director John Newland crafts a fine picture that is chilling from start to finish. With a clear understanding of pulling off effective terror, Newland delivers a supernatural tour de force that ranks up there with some of the finest horror films ever made.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Sep 24, 2011
    The original Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a television film from 1973. While I'm sure the film was effective at the time, particularly to a 70's TV audience who probably didn't see too many horror movies, I didn't find it to be all that frightening. It may be because I'm so desensitized to these kinds of movies that it just didn't work on me. Or it could be because that it's very simple in its scares. I like that there aren't any sort of jumpy moments and instead it's all about a creepy atmosphere. I also liked the ending a lot and the score was very nicely played. It is, of course, a bit dated in look and style, but none of that really matters. I tried to take step back from it and see it through younger and less-informed eyes than my own and I'd say that I could have been frightened by this as a child, but as is, I didn't find it all that terrifying or creepy.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2010
    Made for TV movie from the 70's about to get a glossy makeover. For a TV movie, this is wonderful stuff. They keep the number of characters low, use just a handful of settings, and concentrate on developing a twisted little atmosphere. It was complete in 2 weeks, but you could never tell. The little creatures are eerie and original without being comical. Things are whispered, things are moved, people are attacked, but it carries it off by keeping most things low key. The use of simple panning shots and quiet editing, makes it a film that builds tension with ease. If you are open to less obvious horror, with a love of practical effects, you should find a lot in this mini-treat.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2009
    DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973 and 2010) WRITTEN BY: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins (2010), from, the 1973 script by Nigel McKeand DIRECTED BY: John Newland (1973); Troy Nixey (2010) FEATURING: Kim Darby, Tamara De Treaux, William Demarest, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Robert Cleaves (1973) Bailee Madison, Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Jack Thompson, Garry <B><I>DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK</I> (1973 and 2010)</B> WRITTEN BY: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins (2010), from, the 1973 script by Nigel McKeand DIRECTED BY: John Newland (1973); Troy Nixey (2010) FEATURING: Kim Darby, Tamara De Treaux, William Demarest, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Robert Cleaves (1973) Bailee Madison, Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Jack Thompson, Garry McDonald, Alan Dale, Julia Blake (2010) GENRE: <B>HORROR</B> TAGS: mystery, haunted house, demons RATING <B> (2010 version): 5 PINTS OF BLOOD</B> RATING <B> (1973 version): 8 PINTS OF BLOOD</B> PLOT:<B> Upon the breaking of a seal in a long disused basement, tiny devils escape and seek to murder the house occupants.</B> COMMENTS: If you're looking for scary movies to watch on Halloween, the Screaming Room has two for you this week which fit the bill very nicely! Guillermo del Torro (CRONOS [1993]; MIMIC [1997]; SPLICE [2009]) has written an update of DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, a 1970's horror movie which achieved cult status. It's well-produced, bold, loud, visually spectacular, and worth seeing, although it loses some of the essence of what made the original so good. For purists, the first version is also available, newly digitally remastered. The two films nicely compliment each other. The late 1960's and early 1970's brought a number of high quality, made for TV network horror pictures, especially those produced for ABC Movie Of The Week. Considering they were made for television and aired during family hour, these efforts are original and imaginative. What's more, they're actually scary. The movies had a lot of atmosphere, the characters died awfully, and the stories didn't always have the happy endings so requisite today. Examples include films such as PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966), DAUGHTER OF THE MIND (1969), HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLEN (1970), SEE NO EVIL (1971), THE STONE TAPE ( 1972), THE EYES OF CHARLES SAND (1972), ALL THE KIND STRANGERS (1974), and DON'T GO TO SLEEP (1982). Asserting what a profound impression it made on him, filmmaker Guillermo del Torro felt compelled to reinterpret the 1973 TV movie DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. . In the original, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, Kim Darby (Mattie in the first TRUE GRIT [1969]) plays yuppie homemaker Sally Farnham, who's plagued by demons she unwittingly unleashes from an ash pit underneath a sealed-up basement fireplace. With major plot elements repeated a year later in The Exorcist, and makeup characterizations which reappeared in the PUPPET MASTER films, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK provides chills and Freudian undertones unexpected in a family hour TV movie of the time period. As the goblins' maliciousness becomes increasingly aggressive, Sally's behavior grows correspondingly erratic; her friends and power-attorney husband are convinced she's gone mad. The little ones want Sally body and soul. After assaulting a naked Sally in the shower with a straight razor, they ineptly kill her decorator by mistake, leaving Sally as the suspect. When her distracted husband leaves town on business, Sally's left alone with her demons -literally. She finds herself in a bind when the demented Lilliputians tie her up Gulliver style, and drag her short-skirted, quivering, moaning form to the cellar for God-knows-what. Artfully filmed in shadow and light, the premise works better than you might think. It's one that must be handled skillfully lest it become funny for the wrong reasons, with a silliness akin to the Evil Monkey hiding in Chris Griffin's closet in the animated TV sitcom, Family Guy. Writer Nigel McKeand (in whose McKnight-Hill style Victorian home DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK was filmed) and director John Newland pull it off almost as frighteningly as Stephen Spielberg executed a nearly identical premise a year earlier in the chilling and shocking 1972 made-for-television, SOMETHING EVIL. In the 2010 DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, as would be expected in anything authored by Guillermo del Torro, the elements are enhanced and grotesquely larger than life. The manor is huge and Gothic, the small amount of violence is bloody, and the pit under the basement fireplace becomes a bottomless chasm to hell. The film begins with a backstory which is only alluded to in the original. Sadly, del Torro drops the ball later in the film by trying to explain too much with his characteristic love of mixing myth with "history." The haunted mansion's original patriarch is enslaved to the goblins, and our first encounter with him has him yanking out his maid's molars and feeding them to subterranean demons as an offering. Despite it's R rating (there's no nudity), DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2010) is a kid's movie. In this new version, Sally Hurst (Bailee Madison) is a taciturn, pouting little girl who moves to a mammoth country estate with her recently divorced dad (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes). Imposing sets and dreamlike cinematography are right out of a demented Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. This child's eye view technique is typical of del Torro. The optical footprint of DON'T BE AFRAID is what most distinguishes it. It's overdone, but visually spectacular in exactly the sort of way you would expect a big budget haunted house yarn for kids to be. There's artistic use of visual continuity. The elaborate latticework of Sally's headboard compliments the brass screens of the air vents and the artfully carved antique benches on the manor's grounds. With camera angles such as one in which Sally finds herself standing in a ring of toadstools, and another in which her face is framed by a tangle of vines, the implication is clear: Sally is webbed in. Like the perpetually foreboding and gloomy skies overheard, the mansion's cathedral-sized interiors are almost always cast in shadow. Akin to catacombs, duct work entwines its way through the walls. Creaking and groaning like a giant bellows with its myriad of ornamental grated heat ducts leading to an abysmal, possessed basement incinerator, the very edifice itself seems complicit in what is to transpire. And what transpires is that Sally is either very naughty, or has the IQ of a stringbean, because after the demons in the sealed-up basement incinerator whisper some very nasty, sick things to her in their hoarse croaks, she of course unbolts the damn thing and lets them out. Slowly, sardonically, all hell breaks loose in the Hurst household. Sally's phantasms embark on a malevolent series of destructive endeavors, for which Sally gets the blame, widening an already tense divide between Sally and her elders. As a result, Sally perversely attempts to bond with the goblins out of frustration. The plan backfires, and a child psychologist makes the scene as the situation spirals horribly out of control. The little entities really want to kill Sally. She's trapped in the mansion with them, and nobody will believe her. Sally will have to scheme her own salvation. You'll see some stock conventions in this 2010 version which will remind you of frivolous, campy movies which were likely inspired by the 1973 original: Greminlins, Ghoulies, Beasties, The Puppet Master franchise, etc. The plethora of films about tiny hellraisers in our collective memory tames the fright factor in Guillermo del Torro's version. That's a shame because there's nothing lighthearted about the DON'T BE AFRAID movies. They're deathly serious and the premise works. In the re-make, thanks to 21st century technology, the demons are impressive and scary, They get a lot more camera time than in the original. Sometimes less is more however. The goblin chill factor in the second film contrasts with the way the original cultivated our fear. In that one we caught for the most part, only fleeting glances out of the corners of our eyes, of the darting poltergeists. The known is never as frightening as the unknown. Which version of this story is the best? Both have their merits. The 2010 release has a contemporary feel and it's family-friendly. It's a big-screen extravaganza. The 1973 DON'T BE AFRAID is more intimate and is aimed at grown-ups. Despite the impressive special effects in the remake, the 1973 film's economy of sensation makes it the more sophisticated effort. In the 2010 film, Del Torro does a clever job of expounding upon the plot elements and story essence of its predecessor, making it bolder and more colorful. While this second DON'T BE AFRAID is solidly in the horror genre, with lots of loud, malevolent action, the first film is more subtle, features some genuine chills, and achieves its horror agenda by building an atmosphere of slowly mounting dread. The 1973 DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK has just been digitally remastered on DVD. Both DON'T BE AFRAID movies make a good Halloween package, but if you're trying to decide between one or the other, here's a final thought: When the studios redo a solid film, they often rearrange some of the details, such as who does what, and what happens to whom. This keeps the updated version from being a predictable duplicate. It also tends to weaken the story. The writers usually got it right the first time.
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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