Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (TV Movie 1973) Poster

(1973 TV Movie)

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10/10
Are you afraid?
SimplySteve26 July 2005
Seen when I was very young, this "made for TV" movie became the vehicle which drove all my fears. These fears, once irrational, were validated one unforgettable night. Up until that night, during bedtime, it was only instinct when I asked my mom to leave the hall light on. After seeing this movie, I had an image, and the creepiest music to plead with her not to never turn it off again! This movie plays right into those dark corners of legend. Why we don't just reach under the bed without looking first. Why, as we lay awake, closet doors need to be constantly observed. I was eight years old, and truly ripe for the scare of my life!

The movie begins with a cats meow and haunting music. The score of this movie is absolutely penetrating and perfect. This is not an overstatement. I can think of very few I would call it's equal. This music accompanies Sally (Kim Darby from True Grit) as she unwittingly, and unknowingly, sets free demons from a bricked up fireplace. They set about, slipping through the dark corners (and there's plenty of them), searching to get Sally's soul. Sally is isolated and alone. As frightening events start to mount up, and with no support from her workaholic husband, Sally begins to doubt her sanity.

Darby has a quiet demeanor that lends itself to her rising panic. When the "creatures" do finally appear, they seem to have come straight from a casting call from hell. The ending is absolutely unforgettable. I am far from alone in the opinion that "Dark" made quite an impact for it's time.

I am now 40. Don't like to have ANY lights on when I sleep. Can watch this film, or any other horror flick without strategically placing a body part to obscure the view. However, a few slight noises.....a scratch or a whisper, and my defenses still go up. The blanket is always on the ready. All because of a few film makers decided to take "TV movies" seriously. I thank them. I think.
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8/10
Things that go bump in the night can be very scary!
yenlo21 May 1999
I'll always remember when the first advertisement for this movie was shown. It was on the old ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week (1973) and came right after the flick for that week ended with the announcer saying "Next on the ABC Wednesday movie of the Week". A clip of William Demarest telling Kim Darby "Some things are better off left alone" then a few other quick clips concluding with the announcer saying "Don't be Afraid of the Dark" as a lit Flashlight in pitch blackness is snatched up by something which the viewer is given only an eyeblink glimpse of. WOW! It was definitely worth the week long wait. This was hands down the scariest Things that go bump in the night made for TV movie ever! Throughout the years it's amazing how many people I've met have seen and remember this movie. Sometimes all it takes is to say "Did you ever see the movie with the guy who played Uncle Charlie from My Three Sons" and they'll immediately say "DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK."!
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Childhood trauma-inducer
eaphelps28 August 2002
I saw this when I was 8 years old, and whenever someone asks me what the scariest movie I've ever seen is, I tell them about this one, but nobody seems to know what I'm talking about! I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one who saw it and was creeped out! Another movie from those days that had the same effect was "Trilogy of Terror," when Karen Black gets a Zuni fetish doll in the mail and it comes to life and chases her around her apartment---both these movies had a profound effect on how I looked at staircases and other places where little creepy things could be hiding. I'm looking forward to the remake.
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7/10
Old School Scary
xshitz25 October 2004
When I was a kid I watched television every day until I was absolutely saturated with popular culture. Although I was an athletic youth, I ran home each day after school to catch the afternoon movie on Detroit's ABC affiliate on Channel 7. I have never forgotten seeing the film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, about a young couple who move into the large rambling home once owned by the woman's grandmother. Something sinister once lurked the basement, but had been sealed within the fireplace by bricks stacked four deep -- the door giving onto the ash bin had been bolted shut. Evil subdued.

However, the first thing that happens when the young couple take over the house, is the wife wants to turn this grungy dank room into her home office. And she just has to have that damned fireplace cleared out and working. An aged handy man warns her against "meddling with things you don't understand," but she doesn't heed him.

Remember, there would be no such thing as horror movies if there weren't stupid people.

Sally, the wife, managed to undo the bolt on the ash bin door. That's all the evil needs to be unleashed through the house in the form of tiny raisin-headed ghouls who look like Smurfs gone bad.

The movie hit me like a piledriver when I was eight years old. It scared the absolute shite out of me. Last night I borrowed this film from a friend, seeking to demystify it. I'm just after watching the film for the first time in twenty five years, and I have to say that this cheesy little horror knock-off still does the job. I don't think it'll keep me up tonight as it had when I was a kid, but the story's simplicity, particularly its makeshift special effects, came off quite effectively.

I've never seen the film on the shelf in a video shop. But if you do come across and are looking for a nostalgic thrill, I think Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is what you're looking for.
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9/10
Don't miss this flick
charfaz24 April 2005
Unbelievably creepy. Is this movie on DVD or video anywhere? I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since seeing it in the 70's. Totally 70's gritty cool horror film. We'll probably never see horror made like this again. Especially when dopey heiresses are playing leads in current horror films. Movies, especially horror, have sucked since the early eighties. The film brings you back to a time when people didn't need spit shined, glossy Hollywood film style to be scared. Budgets were limited, so this movie makes do with lighting, shadows, eerie music, and mood. So again, shut out the lights, curl up under a warm blanket, and try not to be afraid of the dark.
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7/10
Simple and Effective Horror Film
claudio_carvalho20 February 2012
Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) and her husband Alex Farnham (Jim Hutton) move to an old mansion that belonged to Sally's grandmother and they hire an interior designer and the carpenter Mr. Harris (William Demarest) to redecorate the manor.

Sally opens a locked door in the house and finds a sealed fireplace and ash pit. She asks Mr. Harris to open the fireplace but the old man argues with her and refuses to follow the order. Sally uses Mr. Harris' wrench to remove the bolts of the ash pit cover. Sooner Sally finds that evil little creatures that fear the light have escaped from the underground through the ash pit and are threatening her. However, Alex and her friend Joan Kahn (Barbara Anderson) believe that Sally's imagination is affected by the words of Mr. Harris.

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is a simple and effective horror film made for television released in Brazil only on VHS. The story of a young couple that moves to an old house and the wife Kim Darby, the unforgettable Miri of "Star Trek" and the girl Mattie Ross of "True Grit", releases demon-like creatures is original and developed in an adequate pace.

In 2010, Guillermo del Toro remade this film with a lame screenplay that included silly sub-plots and spoiled the original story. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Criaturas da Noite" ("Creatures of the Night")
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Very Scary When I Saw it as a Kid
Brock-4722 July 2006
I also saw this movie as a kid and was haunted by it for a long while. I still remember being scared of the little creatures. There was another somewhat similar TV movie called Trilogy of Terror (just found the titles of both of these movies on the web out of curiosity) with Karen Black where she was haunted by a little voodoo like creature with a spear that also really got me good. As far as the effect a scary movie had on me at the time I saw it, this was by far the scariest movie I have seen in my life. I don't know if it would have much an effect on me now or not but it certainly did then.

I'm guessing it is not available on DVD or video.
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Unique
BaronBl00d3 August 2000
This is one of those little films that lends itself to legendary status, because it is almost impossible to see nowadays. With a great deal of effort and patience, one can find a copy....but it sure isn't easy. So many of us remember seeing it when it aired...I was all but six or seven and remembered only these gnome-like creatures. Recently I was able to see it again....and started to remember a lot more of it. The film is pretty atmospheric as it chronicles the slow then fast menacing of Sally Farnham by pint-sized demons with conical shaped heads. Sally and her husband recently moved into this large house and forsaking the advice of carpenter William Demarest, Sally opens a fireplace which had been sealed over twenty-five years ago. These creatures lived in the fireplace and now they want Sally...to join them. Kim Darby does a good job playing Sally as she slowly descends into madness...as well as other destinations. Forget all the talk about it being only good for a television movie...this is a good movie period. It has loads of atmosphere and suspense, albeit a bit shallow in the area of plot.
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8/10
Sally, we want you, we want you.
hitchcockthelegend8 October 2009
There are times in a horror fans youth that a certain film will leave an impression that will be carried forward for ever more. In my case one such film is "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark". A cheaply made for TV picture starring Kim Darby, Jim Hutton and William Demarest. The plot on the surface is standard. Alex and Sally Farnham inherit a big old mansion from their deceased grandmother, it has a basement den room with a bricked up fireplace. Sally wants to unblock the fireplace but is advised by the family handyman that it should be left as it is. Naturally Sally goes ahead and has the fire opened up, and pretty soon she starts to hear voices and see what she thinks is little men in her midst...

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" terrified me as a child because it played on one of my basic fears, a fear that is shared by many an impressionable child. That of something being under the bed at night time, or in the cupboard, and yes, in the walls behind the fireplace. Of course now as an adult revisiting the film it has lost the power to truly terrify me. But not once since that time as a child have I not cast a nervous smile in the direction of all the open fireplaces I've come across over the years. This is something I think one should always remember when revisiting such films from your youth, the impact back then is what's important. Now to me the film is a nostalgic trip that still retains the power to prick up those goose-bumps, and with each goose bump comes back memories of believing there was such a thing as little troll like demons out to get us.

It's a cracking little chiller is this, the cast give it their all (particularly Darby) and while the effects and production are evidently low, it still carries a charm that 70s TV movies seem to carry for those that blossomed during it. Very much a cult film over the years, horror fan pressure has led to it finally getting a DVD release in August 2009. All those fans are just like me, they remembered the night that "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" actually meant that we "would" be afraid of the dark. First time viewers to it now are unlikely to get much, if anything, from it. But don't mock or be scornful towards us, for we was there, and we carried with us that first chill for ever more. 8/10
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10/10
We Need a Sequel! Great Movie!
Carrigon25 August 1999
This is a classic horror that will stay with you for years. A young couple moves into a house where the previous owner, the woman's father, mysteriously disappeared years before. As it turns out, the young couple aren't the only ones living in the house, there are scary demons living in the basement. This movie is great! You just scream sequel. The ending will stick with you, it's a shocker. This is an amazing movie for a made-for-tv movie. Grab this one, it's that good!
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A movie that was fun to be scared by
jonesy74-115 October 2005
What a sadistically weird movie this was! Have you ever thought you saw something out of the corner of your eye, but when you looked directly at it, it wasn't there? Of course, it was in the shadows, so if it really WERE there, you wouldn't know for sure, would you? That's what this movie is about. Small, dangerous things in the shadows. Of course, they couldn't harm you directly... while you were alert... but they sure could mess you up if, say... they strung a rope across the stairs or did something to you in your sleep.

The theme of this movie is, "Did I really see it?" And of course, we know Kim Darby really did, but it was too late when she finally knew forsure.

As a t.v. movie, it was okay - production, setting, acting, special effects and make-up... but the idea of things... lurking... waiting... made your hair stand up and want to exit the room along with the rest of your body.

And what the heck WERE those things, anyway? They lived in the furnace... or BELOW the furnace - we know that for sure. But were they demons? Goblins? Aliens? And was one of them Kim Darby's grandfather? We never know the answer to this. All we know is they're nasty spiteful little things that want to make you one of them. And, I guess, that was the spookiest part of the story - it never let you know the answer. Just made you wonder what sort of ickies could be lurking below YOUR furnace! The spookiest moment is when Kim ticks one of them off and it makes the nastiest face. You really don't want to tick one of these little creepy-crawlers off.

I watched this movie-of-the-week alone at night really late while I was home by myself. Even though I was well into my teens at the time, I was totally weirded out.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that if you don't want evil miniature creatures to drag your wife off to the nether-regions below your furnace, don't be a workaholic and ignore her when she says she's seeing strange nasties in the corners or the room.
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8/10
Superior 70's made-for-TV horror winner
Woodyanders19 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A trip of tiny gnome-like creatures who reside inside the fireplace of a big old mansion decide they want to bring young lass Sally (a fine and sympathetic performance by Kim Darby) into their secret netherworld.

Director John Newland keeps the absorbing story moving at a steady pace, does an ace job of creating and sustaining a supremely spooky atmosphere, makes the most of the sprawling large house main location, and grounds the fantastic premise in a believable everyday reality. Nigel McKeand's intelligent and intriguing script wisely keeps things pleasingly ambiguous right until the very chilling end; you're never quite sure why exactly these little goblins are after Sally or what they plan to do to Sally once they get their clawed hands on her. The excellent acting by the sturdy cast helps a lot: Jim Hutton as Sally's insensitive careerist husband Alex, Barbara Anderson as Sally's loyal and concerned best gal pal Joan Kahn, William Demarest as amiable handyman Mr. Harris, and Pedro Armendariz Jr. as likable interior designer Francisco Perez. Felix Silla, Patty Maloney, and Tama De Treaux portray the creepy and diminutive monsters who prowl about in the dark and speak in scary whispers ("Sally, we want you"). Both Billy Goldenberg's spare shivery score and Andrew Jackson's sharp, yet shadowy cinematography further enhance the overall eerie mood. Worthy of its cult classic status.
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6/10
Goblins in the brickwork...
moonspinner5520 June 2016
Unnerving TV-movie features Kim Darby and Jim Hutton as an upwardly mobile young couple who move into an old manor previously owned by Darby's now-deceased grandmother. The veteran handyman tells curious Kim not to open the bricked-off fireplace in the hidden room downstairs, but she unbolts the ash bin anyway and unwittingly unleashes a society of evil little goblins intent on adding her soul to their circle. Well-done thriller from director John Newland and writer Nigel McKeand might have benefited even more from a slightly larger budget and more time on the clock to expand on McKeand's scenario. As it is, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is so compact that it feels rushed, although the finale being cut short may actually work in the movie's favor: there isn't an opportunity to ask questions, only to ponder the possibilities--and the sounds we're left with linger in the mind. Loosely remade as a theatrical feature in 2010.
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9/10
For an 8 yr old this is as creepy as it gets!
asmushar19 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I remember seeing this movie on TV when I was 8 and it scared the @#$! out of me. The plot seems familiar but has a disturbing twist. Woman inherits creepy old mansion and finds it to be haunted, unlucky for her there are no ghosts here but rather sinister looking demons which she unwittingly sets free. I have not seen this movie for at least 30 years but remember it very well. This movie is not for children as it plays to every child's fear: something under the bed-in the closet-dark corners. This movie, to its credit, also leaves behind more questions than answers. What are the creatures, Demons, goblins or something else? Where did they come from + how the hell do you get rid of them? The film only reveals that they can't stand light and seem to be able to appear and disappear at will-except from the furnace which is both brick and metal. The demons also seem to be tethered to the house-no explanation. Demons seems most appropriate since they seem to enjoy tormenting the heroine psychologically 1st before they attempt to do physical harm! Take the sinister looking antagonists + add an unorthodox ending + you have an excellent horror film. The remake should be interesting, but if it gets the typical modern horror makeover-CGI + over explaining every minute detail-lack of appropriate atmosphere + it won't measure up. One of the creepiest horror flicks ever!
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10/10
gave me the heebeegeebees
big-bad-mama6 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
i can only cast my 10/10 vote based on my experience as a teenager... this film has always stood out in my mind as one of the creepiest and far reaching films to date.. to this day i always make sure i have torches prepped and ready around the house...

this film definitely GAVE me a fear of the dark... i don't know if the remake will measure up, and that could be because i'm middleaged now and practically numb to many modern horrors.

i also remember the trilogy of terror, zuni doll around about the same era. vividly remember my older brother teasing me about my obvious fear, and how he would "dropkick that little **** to pieces" luckily he didn't get to witness me watching the much worse DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. that would have given him much 'torment' ammunition.

i'd always remembered the womans name as susan, but i see it was sally... the ending is so frustrating, stupid old fashioned flash bulbs.. why with todays economical led lights, things could have been so different....

also must mention the useless husband who failed her, because he thought she was just an hysterical woman with a vivid imagination. i've never seen this film since then, must be late 70's.. i think i'll look it up.. it was a very worthy horror.
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9/10
Second Most Memorable ABC Flick
riverheadestelle24 October 2005
One reason ABC plays such a key part in my childhood memories is because we were a captive audience, in a sense. My family and I moved to Sag Harbor in 1971 - a then unknown town on eastern Long Island. Cable was in its infancy back then, and if you didn't have it, well there was ABC, the only network that came in clear as a bell. CBS and NBC were always snowy or fuzzy. So, I remember a lot of ABC programming, whether it was 'Movie of the Week', 'The After School Special', and the many prime time dramas and sitcoms that aired on the network - even those which were short-lived. And even before we moved from the city, I had memories of racing home from parochial school to catch 'Dark Shadows'.

The house in Sag Harbor had a real fireplace, not one of those gas jobs like the house we had in our old neighborhood of Springfield Gardens. Well, the allure of a real log fire wore off quickly when I saw 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' at the age of 12. I didn't go near our fireplace for about a week afterwards! It creeped me out that much. In spite of the movies disappointing ending, it's still good for what it is: one of ABC's best forays into the supernatural.
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7/10
An ironic title for this creepy chiller.
Nightman8515 January 2009
When a housewife moves into her grandparents old house, she opens up a sealed basement fireplace only to discover that sinister dwarf creatures dwell within it.

This made-for-TV horror film from the early 70's is a pretty good late night watch. Its story is cleverly unique and has a truly chilling, almost Gothic atmosphere to it. The brooding plot remains intriguing throughout as it ultimately builds to a terrifically spooky conclusion. The creature effects are nicely done and quite memorable. The music score by Billy Goldenberg is quite eerie and perfect for the films dark atmosphere. Best of all though is the cast. Kim Darby does a fine performance as the understandably nervous housewife, Jim Hutton is good as her husband, and Barbara Anderson does a nice turn as Darby's concerned friend.

Definitely one of the most memorable TV horror films out there, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an enjoyable oddity for horror fans. Currently the film is set to be remade as a feature film by acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro. It must have made an impression upon him as well.

*** out of ****
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2/10
But do be afraid of revisiting cheesy TV movies that scared you when you were seven.
iago-617 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie seemed to be almost constantly when I was around seven, and at the time I remember it being totally scary and engrossing. My sister remains freaked out about the little veiny-headed people to this day, so, being the evil little brother that I am, I hunted down a copy to give to her for Christmas, and watched it first.

The story is that the hideous Kim Darby, in a hairdo seemingly accomplished by swirlie, has inherited this gorgeous house from her grandmother. Her husband, Jim Hutton, sees all the beautiful windows and space and pool out back and all—and would rather live in an apartment in a high-rise. Throughout the movie, there is all this talk about how much work the house needs, saying at one point that a dinner party there will be like "eating in the subway," when all of this is utterly belied by the house itself, which is spectacular. Sure, it's decorated with a comprehensive cross-section of everything wrong with the 70s, but the house itself is a stunner. We later keep hearing about how the couple has "done so much work" on the house, thought we never see ANY evidence of this throughout the movie.

Anyway, Kim wants to make a study out of this, well, study in the basement, which features a big fireplace that has been bricked up and bolted closed. The handyman keeps telling her that she'd better not open it if she knows what's good for her, but won't explain why. Naturally, she opens it, and soon enough we're hearing little voices saying "We're free! We're free! She set us free!"

One thing apparent from the start is that Kim's husband is a major jerk. This little time capsule comes from the period in which men thought nothing of telling their wives that they are psychotic rather than even making the slightest attempt to hear what they have to say. Jim is also a bitch to Kim throughout, throwing constant attitude at her and caring about nothing but his job and reputation. There is a little bit of "topicality" in that Kim feels like he's going to only be worried about his job for the rest of their marriage, but it seems to me that their problems run far deeper than that.

So soon enough strange things start happening, caused, we soon find out, by this race of foot-high men in gorilla suits with strange veiny-headed masks on. For some reason they want Kim. Please don't put too much stock in getting an explanation for this phenomena—-ever—-as one never comes. You're like, is it witchcraft? Aliens? Ancient Indian burial ground? Ancient Chinese secret? And nothing ever comes. The little ape-men, always accompanied by an inexplicable and wholly ludicrous green light, creep out and cause havoc in the household at regular intervals.

After a few brushes with her furry friends, Kim is understandably freaked out and skittish (while her husband, with increasing annoyance, considers her a lunatic—who knew husbands were so eager to consider their wives plumb nuts?), which makes it surprising that she doesn't seem phased in the least when, at the height of her nervousness, the lights in the bathroom go out while she's taking a shower. Kim just showers away, taking no heed. I guess she just really, really had to get that crème rinse out.

Spoilers ahead! The attacks increase, with a corresponding drop in viewer interest. But they do at least offer the meager fun of seeing guys cavort around sets made of giant books and stairways designed to make them look small. During all this time, Kim never thinks of just leaving the house. You know, they DO have hotels, Kim. She is supposedly going to spend the night at a friend's house, though the friend never shows up and no one seems to think that's strange. The fools also, though by now it's obvious that the little men are afraid of the light, never turn on the lights. In addition to never considering just bolting up the chimney again during the day, while the little men are sleeping, which is the only method that obviously worked in the past. Idiots.

So it all builds toward a fateful evening—-after the bearded decorator is killed—-in which Kim is drugged by the little beasties. Her friend, Geraldine Ferraro, finally believes her, but still has no problem leaving her alone (while drugged!) to make phone calls and creep around outside. Her husband, now starting to believe her a little bit, leaves her in the house to go have a chat with the handyman. No one considers just taking her out of the house, which destroys any minor scares this thing may have generated on the weak-minded.

The whole thing has the air of the script being written way before the film was shot, and of no one caring enough to go back and adjust it. The biggest example of this is all the talk about the house being a wreck, when it's clearly ready for Architectural Digest, and there are other little instances where someone will talk abut something that never happened or whatever. Nevertheless, little creepy guys skulking around in corners does manage to offer a few chills. Someone could remake this movie and have a B-feature on their hands. Too bad such little effort was put into this version.

--- Check out other reviews on my website of bad and cheesy movies, Cinema de Merde, cinemademerde.com
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4/10
What Was Once Dark Is Now Light
Muldwych22 January 2010
'Whoever frees us must live with us and become one of us...' When a young woman and her husband move into the house she inherited from her grandparents, she finds herself drawn to an old fireplace that either harbours demons intent on drawing her to the other side, or she's losing her mind. After watching 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark', I wished I'd followed the advice of Mr Harris the old carpenter when he said that some things are better left alone, for this is most definitely one of the silliest horror films I've ever seen. The conviction of the actors alas suggests it was intended be a serious chiller of the day. Kim Darby, in her role as housewife Sally Farnham, gives a very real and concentrated performance that reminded me why Star Trek fans still remember her from her role in the episode 'Miri'. However, the characterisation is rather flat and dated for a modern audience (the paternalistic male attitude of the husband was a bit grating) and the realisation of the 'demons' both visually and verbally extremely childish - indeed, I think you more or less had to have seen this as a child in order for it to have had any impact.

This has nothing to do with the production values of the day - the execution is simply absurd, and about as frightening as a balloon with the word 'boo' scribbled on the outside with a laundry marker. Nor is it a criticism of the concept - certainly the idea of malevolent creatures living in the dark recesses of your house is a good one for playing on your irrational fears, but whenever these particular boogeymen spoke or appeared on screen, I found myself more amused by how ridiculous they were than anything else. Director John Newland seemingly does his best with what he's been given, using the dark to good effect - which is in itself a plot point later on - but when you draw a veil over rubbish, that doesn't stop it from being odoriferous. Recommended only for those coloured by favourable childhood memories and perhaps a new generation of children.
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8/10
Classic TV movie is solid on Atmosphere and Chills.
loomis78-815-98903430 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A young couple, Alex (Hutton) and Sally (Darby) move into the Gothic old house of Sally's grandmother. Alex wants a new place but Sally insists on keeping it along with the old handyman Mr. Harris (Demerest). Poking around in the basement Sally comes across a bricked up fireplace she wants opened by Mr. Harris. He warns her, telling her that he bricked it up himself 20 years ago and it should stay that way. Sally gets it open and unknowingly releases murderous little goblins that were imprisoned inside. The creatures soon make their presence known, but only to Sally. She starts to doubt her own mind and everyone she tells doesn't believe her. The goblins attack Sally and whisper to her throughout the house in repeated fashion. They need Sally's soul and plan on killing her to get it. Filled with gobs of atmosphere, this scary TV movie was a late night staple scaring many young horror fans. The movie works on all levels even though we really never get to understand the Goblins and their reason for existence. Solid Directing from John Newland makes you forget you're watching a TV movie. Newland uses the whispering goblins to great effect and keeps them under wraps until a revealing Dinner party scene when we see the first one clearly in shocking and scary fashion. The Goblins talk of 'harming her' and 'wanting to' which will raise goose bumps in the early scenes. The nasty goblins get under Sally's skin and the audience's as well. Another memorable scene is when the creatures stalk Sally as she is taking a shower. All though the end loses a little steam the short running time and solid pacing makes up for that including an unexpected final scene that is so off beat it leaves the viewer with one last great chill! Composer Billy Goldenberg's musical score is very effective and helps a lot as well. This strange hybrid mix of Haunted House and Creature movie supplies many chills along with atmosphere and real scares that should entertain most horror fans.
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5/10
Had the potential to be great
Joxerlives20 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Interesting film but let down by some very leaden and unimaginative production values and direction. It would have been better had they left the creatures more in the darkness, once you actually see them then they lose all credibility. Also they seem to be not that formidable, they retreat from light so why doesn't Kim Darby just dump a can of petrol down the chimney and fry them? Why doesn't she just buy herself a shotgun and blow them away? And in the immortal words of Eddie Murphy why the blazes doesn't she just get out of the house?

Kim Darby is extremely good just as she was in True Grit but she's by far the best thing in it, the other actors are very weak. It's interesting to see it all in retrospect in terms of the feminist revolution, this is the very beginning of woman's lib (which is even referred to in passing)and the patronising attitude everyone exhibits towards housewife Sally is quite startling.

The ending is probably the reason why everyone remembers this film, for a TV movie of the week to have an ending where the heroine actually 'joins' the bad guys must have been quite daring at the time. So what happens next? Does Sally's husband and her friends try to rescue her? Or do they just brick up the chimney and make sure no one ever opens it again? Has she actually become one of the creatures or is she their queen and do they feed off her soul (one of the creatures says they want Sally's 'spirit'). What about the photos she took as she was being dragged towards the chimney?

Interesting but really doesn't live up to its' reputation.
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8/10
Big FRIGHTS Come In Little Packages...
cchase5 December 2008
Alright, class, show of hands, please: how many of you out there STILL won't go down into the cellar or basement or whatever you have 'downstairs', since you first saw this movie when you were somewhere between the ages of 5-12?

TRILOGY OF TERROR always gets most of the notoriety because of the "killer doll" story and how effectively it was done, but actually there was more than a handful of nifty, clever little shockers produced as TV movies at the same time, and DON'T BE AFRAID was one of them.

Kim Darby has inherited a nice, big, spooky old house from her late dad, and brings handsome hubby Jim Hutton (yes, that's Tim's dad) along for the ride. But unknown to either of them, Daddy Dearest has left his darling daughter one HELL of an inheritance, and no, it's not a mice or roach problem, but they're gonna WISH it was...

William Demarest, "Uncle Charlie" from MY THREE SONS plays the Caretaker Who Knows More Than He Should, and plus there's that un-Hollywood ending that sent an entire generation to bed afterward, making sure that not a finger or a toe was sticking out from under the covers, for fear someTHING might grab it...

Not available in any format at this time, this one would be worth tracking down and letting out of its pit at least one more time...
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9/10
Scary, interesting little t.v. horror movie.
andrsbckly16 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was so interested in this movie that, after watching it again after many years, I decided to contact the writer, Nigel McKeand; I not only got a chance to talk with this excellent person, he also filled in many 'blanks'. The story was written fairly quickly, for 'Lorimar'-ABC, and involves Kim Darby as Sally, dour but believable housewife that moves into the house her Grandfather lived, along with her upwardly-mobile exec hubby Hutton. (you may remember him playing 'Ellery Queen'). After opening a clean-out grate that reveals a pit behind a bricked-in fireplace, three small, demonic creatures begin terrifying her; nobody believes her, of course, and the creatures have special plans for her....namely making her one of them. The last 15 minutes of the movie are pretty creepy, which involve a drugged Sally being roped and dragged down....THERE. We never find out what these creatures are, where they come from, or why they want Sally, and there is a good reason for that. Nigel McKean stated that there was simply no time for exposition because the script had to be short...he never had or developed a real background. He used what scared him....voices whispering in the dark, dark pits, (Nigel got the idea of the clean-out pit from a real one that was in the rear of a Spanish house he was living in, the clean-out pit was so dark and spooky nobody wanted to clean it out), He is also constantly amazed at the amount of people who still remember this film, owing to the fact it received bad reviews. He recently confirmed the rights were sold to a not named 3rd party, and yes, looks like a remake. He also stated his only disappointment was that the creatures were too 'lumbering', and his script described them as quicker and thinner. He said that several people call him every year and mention this film. Nigel McKeand also played on the t.v. show "Voyage to the bottom of the Sea" as the sonar-man, and wrote many of the 'Waltons' episodes. Watch this with the lights out, and

Don't Be Afraid of the DARK....!
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8/10
"She set us free-free!!!" Warning: Spoilers
Very much like with "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" and "Don't Go to Sleep", this is another of those relatively unknown TV-produced horror pictures from back in the day that is all about slow but sure pacing and effective tension and dread that gently builds up to a chilling finish. I saw the remake way before I r watched this and I did like it a lot, I think it's one of the painfully few remakes that are actually well done, but after consideration I find this the much better film simply because it's very scaled down in comparison, and to me its elements of mystery and fear are a lot more deeper richer and satisfying for that, and you care about the poor victim a lot more. The story is a pretty simple and straightforward one, being of a timid young woman who unwittingly releases something awful and devious from a mysterious sealed-up old fireplace that fully intends to drag her back down into the dank hell from which it came and condemn her to a truly dark fate that's probably worse than death, and what can she possibly do to save herself when nobody will even believe her? You can put together where it's all heading fairly quickly, but there's still plenty of eerie suspense and atmosphere to it that it fills out the time nicely and it kept me interested all the way through, it has a great driving subtle build up to the grim ending. It was a wonderful little surprise to me, I'd certainly put it as a buried gem as well as a very early example of a miniature monsters on the attack based horror movie that's told with economy and skill and is a very worthwhile viewing experience, particularly if you're a fan of that crazy sub-genre. It's just trying to tell a good old fashioned spooky tale of encroaching doom in a big dark house with little goblins running around, and an ending that goes for quieter chills rather than obnoxious jump scare thrills and I love that, that's what we need more of today! I thought Kim Darby was very good, she projected just the right kind of vulnerability and for a little while it almost feels a bit on the psychological slant, like you're not totally sure if she's going mad or not.. She's so darn mousy though that's she's practically helpless and is basically easy prey for the evil relentless tiny fiends. I appreciate the odd onion/raisin head design of the twisted fairy folk, while you do see the age of the makeup effects, it's nice and practical and I think the weird and neat look of the things fits the tone quite well. It's so clever the way they filmed them in a scale that makes them appear a lot smaller than they actually were, it makes them a lot more creepy and effective. It tickles me the way they all jibber-jabber at once so that their demented high-pitched unnatural voices overlap and it sounds like they're all having a little chant! I love the bad ending, it works so well and is pretty sad and unsettling, with the foreboding exterior shot of the house with the spectral green lighting that appears whenever the creatures do, they've won and can wait forever for new 'friends' if they have to... I love the black cat of ill omen at the beginning, somehow very Halloweenish, which is a great time to watch this picture. Simplistic but very engaging and eerie tale of suspense and unseen lurking fears in the deep dark that are closing in... Excellent spooky hidden treasure of a movie that may possibly make you want to always leave a light on!
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9/10
Super-effective and this film proves you don't need a huge budget to make a very good movie.
MartinHafer23 August 2010
During the late 1960s and through much of the 1970s, ABC produced a long series of made for TV movies marketed under the title "The ABC Movie of the Week". While the budgets and production times were all very low, they did manage to sign some reasonably big stars and produced quite a few very good little movies. As a kid, I saw a ton of them, but the scary ones were always the ones that stood out in my mind...and scared the crap out of me! "Crowhaven Farm", "The Stranger Within" and "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" were the big three--the three that made my skin crawl the most and made me go to bed with the lights on...they were that scary. I recently bought copies of a couple of these films and in both cases I was thrilled to see that they were indeed good films and were truly frightening.

This film begins with a young married lady (Kim Darby) looking around her new house. She manages to discover a hidden room--though the handyman (William Demarest) tells her to leave the room alone. Why? Who knows...but it is pretty creepy. Later, the curious Darby undoes some bolts on an old furnace...and unknowingly releases some demonic little creatures who are now up to no good! There is much more to it, but I don't want to say more, as it would spoil the suspense.

Overall, this is STILL an incredibly creepy film--and might make you lose some sleep! This is incredible considering that this film has the distinction for being the fastest to produce made-for-TV film of all time! And, considering this and the very low budget, the film is a huge success. And, if you enjoy this, try watching "Crowhaven Farm". It, too, will scare your pants off! While not a masterpiece, I still give this film a 9, as it's a wonderful film for young film makers to watch--to know it does NOT take explosions, gore or big bucks to make a wonderful film. See this one.
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