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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

USA 1973
produced by
Allen S. Epstein, Lee Rich (executive) for Lorimar/ABC
directed by John Newland
starring Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson, William Demarest, Pedro Armendáriz jr, Lesley Woods, Robert Cleaves, Sterling Swanson, Joel Lawrence, William Sylvester, Don Mallon, Celia Kaye, Ted Swanson
written by Nigel McKeand, music by Billy Goldenberg

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Sally (Kim Darby) and Alex (Jim Hutton) are in the process of moving into the house of her deceased grandparents, when Sally finds a sealed up furnace in the constantly locked basement, and decides to open it despite the confusing and confused warnings of her carpenter Harris (William Demarest). Of course, nothing happens when she first opens the furnace, what was supposed to happen? It's only that Sally starts to see ... well, something. She first suspects mice, but that's rather unlikely, the house was literally just fumigated. Alex on the other hand just thinks she is nervous, due to their move, due to the fact that he's hardly at home due to his job, due to the dinnerparty they are going to have the next day that will almost certainly result in his promotion, due to whatever else.

At the dinner party, things come to a head when she at the first time sees these little things that have been worrying her for real, little demons that look menacing enough to scare the living shit out of her. Of course nobody else sees the demons, which makes her husband angry that she spoilt his all-important dinner party, but also worried about her state of mind. He thinks she's slowly going mad, actually, only her level-headed friend Joan (Barbara Anderson) figures there must be more to her claims ...

Eventually, the little creatures kill Sally's decorator (Pedro Armendáriz jr) using trip wire, and now Sally knows they are really after her, and are intelligent, too ...

Joan manages to convince Alex that there is truth in Sally's crazy claims about these little people, so he decides to fetch Harris, who apparently knows more about the creatures than he cares to admit, while Joan stays with Sally - but the creatures manage to drug Sally, then lock Joan out, and drag Sally to the furnace. When Joan, with the help of Alex and Harris, finally manages to break back into the house again, it's already too late, the three of them just see Sally disappearing in the furnace, and they can do nothing more than to seal it shut again, like it should have stayed in the first place ...


Considering this is a made-for-television movie, it's quite ok, it features an interesting story that doesn't lose itself in useless explanation but leaves enough in the dark (no pun intended) to keep one interested, and it features a compact cast and simple yet effective effects to carry the story. But of course, on the other hand the movie just doesn't let you forget that it was made for television, the direction is disappointingly flat, slightly impersonal, and a bit too atmosphere-free at times to totally convince.

All that said, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is still a quite ok movie, it's just not what it could have been.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD