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Dark Places (1973)

 -  Horror | Thriller  -  May 1974 (USA)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 317 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 4 critic

A scheming couple plot to conceal a hidden cache of stolen money from its rightful owner. The only problem is that the house they plan to hide it in is haunted.

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Title: Dark Places (1973)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dr. Ian Mandeville
...
Sarah Mandeville
...
Prescott
...
Alta
...
Edward Foster / Andrew Marr
...
Victoria
Carleton Hobbs ...
Old Marr
Roy Evans ...
Baxter
Martin Boddey ...
Sgt. Riley
John Glyn-Jones ...
Bank Manager (as John Glyn Jones)
...
Doctor
Jennifer Thanisch ...
Jessica
Michael McVey ...
Francis
Barry Linehan ...
Asylum Gatekeeper
Linda Gray ...
Woman on Hill
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Storyline

A scheming couple plot to conceal a hidden cache of stolen money from its rightful owner. The only problem is that the house they plan to hide it in is haunted.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

There is more than death waiting for you in Dark Places.

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Maldição da Mansão Sombria  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
DARK PLACES (Don Sharp, 1974) **1/2
9 October 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This 'haunted house' movie is not very well-known (and, whenever mentioned, it is generally dismissed) despite the star cast and name director it attracted: both of these have ties to Hammer Horror (Don Sharp having helmed, among others, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE {1963}, and the former including Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Herbert Lom and Robert Hardy) but the style is not necessarily reminiscent of their output (especially since the company never actually dabbled in this particular subgenre).

Anyway, I quite liked the film if ultimately emerging as nothing special: that said, the plot does provide some novelty to the formula of ghosts haunting the current owner of some old mansion in order to expose some long-ago crime. In fact, here we not only have the protagonist (played by Hardy, from Hammer's DEMONS OF THE MIND {1972}) being a dead-ringer for the man who previously lived there (though the probability of both being, concurrently, in the same mental asylum is very unlikely) and who gradually has his personality overtaken by him, but his actual goal in possessing the property concerned is to find the old man's fortune hidden behind one of the walls! The handful of people who make it a point to befriend him (doctor Lee, his sister{!} Collins and solicitor Lom) all know about the money and are understandably miffed that the house was ultimately bequeathed by the dying former occupant (not played by Hardy in this guise!) to a casual acquaintance. Collins, typically playing a man-eater, actually decides to seduce the stout Hardy (by first volunteering to clean up the place for him) in order to 'follow' the search for the loot first-hand – which displeases Lee, who constantly berates his sister for her loose morals (incidentally, he and Collins do not look favorably upon Lom either, whose interest in the 'financial' matter is more subtly deployed).

Eventually, as already intimated, Hardy starts to re-live his predecessor's experiences within the household: it transpires that he was unhappily married, with a couple of apparently fiendish children in tow, but he finds solace in the arms of the latter's much-younger nanny (Jane Birkin). However, when he decides to leave with her, the wife throws a fit and the kids, who never liked their governess anyway, murder her! This, of course, sends the poor man off the deep end and he takes to his family with a pick-axe, though none of the bodies were actually found. Towards the end, as the modern-day Hardy identifies more and more with his 'doppelganger', he begins to see the obstacles to his contentedness everywhere so that, during a country stroll with Lee and Lom, he physically assaults (leaving his companions perplexed) a couple of children he takes for the ones tormenting his love Birkin! Later still, when Collins turns up ostensibly to comfort him, he sees her in the image of the wife the previous owner loathed and strangles her to death – just then, Lee himself happens along and, rather bloodlessly, ends up on the wrong end of Hardy's pick-axe!

When Lom turns up there too and is about to meet the same fate, a couple of cops he had called arrive just in time to take the deranged Hardy away. The double twist here involves Hardy being not an employer of the asylum as he had let on but really a patient, and that his attempts to unearth the cache' of money by tearing down the walls also reveals the resting-place of the former murdered victims. Lom being responsible for the house offers to take charge of a couple of bags the cops come upon, conscious of course as to their actual contents, but the latter insist they be checked first and, once they are, these are naturally confiscated…so that, predictably, nobody gets anything after all!

As I said, the approach is not really inspired but the performances by all concerned (but, needless to say, Hardy in particular) are committed enough to keep one watching. For the record, this is the third and last film genre icons Lee and Lom appeared in together after the ludicrous 'female Tarzan' adventure THE FACE OF EVE (1968) and Jess Franco's interesting but unsatisfactory COUNT Dracula (1969).


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