Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

This above-average, made-for-TV chiller gave nightmares to a generation of youthful TV-movie junkies. Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) inherits a ramshackle mansion from her grandmother and moves in with her workaholic husband, Alex (Jim Hutton). Worried that she's not a good enough corporate wife, Sally sets about redecorating the house in anticipation of an important...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This above-average, made-for-TV chiller gave nightmares to a generation of youthful TV-movie junkies. Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) inherits a ramshackle mansion from her grandmother and moves in with her workaholic husband, Alex (Jim Hutton). Worried that she's not a good enough corporate wife, Sally sets about redecorating the house in anticipation of an important business party Alex wants to throw. Sally discovers a small room she thinks would make a nice study and, ignoring the warnings of an elderly handyman (William Demarest) who used to work for her grandmother, opens the room's bricked-up fireplace. Soon she's being troubled by strange phenomena: An ashtray flies off a night table as though it had been pushed; tiny, shadowy figures scuttle around the periphery of her vision; voices whisper her name in the dark. Alex pooh-poohs Sally's complaints, and accuses her of playing mind games: She's the one who wanted to move to this house — he would have preferred an apartment in a modern high rise — so why is she acting as though she wants to leave? Then, at the all-important party, Sally sees a frightening, wizened gremlin hiding in a floral arrangement. She realizes she's not imagining things: There are creatures in the house and they're after her. Sally also realizes that they're afraid of the light; as long as she doesn't get caught in the dark, Sally reasons, she'll be okay. When Alex returns from his long-planned business trip, Sally will say he's right about the house, they should move to an apartment, and then she'll be safe. But Sally has underestimated the determination of the creatures... Sally showering while one of the malevolent munchkins drags a straight razor from the medicine cabinet. Sally, trussed like a turkey, holding off the gremlins by firing off her camera's flashbulb. Sally's interior decorator (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) falling to his death, tripped by a nearly invisible wire stretched across the top of the stairs. Overall the film may be a little slow and obvious by today's standards, but these stand-out moments insure it a place in the memories of children of the '70s.

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