Aug 17, 2010

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

Among the made-for-TV horror spectacles that have found their way into very comfortable households includes Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, with Trilogy of Terror as close kin. The original film stars Kim Darby, a tomboy who could "get it", as a reluctant inheritor of a decrepit mansion whose basement study is home to a bricked and sealed fireplace that she insists upon opening. Even after kindly handyman Mr. Harris warns her against the repercussions of mishandling things that are meant to stay the way they are, she does so anyways and seals her and her loved ones fate. For in the bottomless ash pit exists a world of inky darkness as somewhat recently stylized in the obviously inspired Wes Craven's They. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a film that not only features a magnificent array of lighting and the lack thereof but also imaginative creepy totems brought to miserable life with camera tricks and stop-motion.

Kim Darby sets the tone nicely as a lush and almost virginal desperate housewife of a workaholic trader who starts the film off as a low-budget vaginal suppository of midlife angst but ends on a bit of a high chord with a drugged Darby being dragged down the hall and stairs as she moans and groans. The perkiness of her breasts and rope really lends to the scene seeming as a spare remnant of a great pinku film. This scene provoked a new fetish for me to pursue; gremlin hostage situations. Just thinking about the ending alone brings to light so many questions. Was the camera recovered? Were there pictures of the creatures on the film? What happened to the house? Don't Be Afraid of the Dark leaves you with many staggering questions and few answers. Even so, the quality of this film is of a special caliber of noxious horror entertainment, even with a criminally short runtime this film manages to accomplish so much given its hindrance as being directed by a fellow known only for directing episodes of classic television series.

Once the demons marked Sally (Darby) to be their blushing den mother, the foul play appears almost instantly resulting in a suspense that continues to rise and never lets up. If anything, this film allows an unconventional look at an unholy obsession with the perfect wife which is also tenaciously appears to be the domineering pseudo-Labyrinth but without a single trace of avant-garde homosexuality. As per usual, the curiously dimwitted nature of a woman is to blame for this supernatural travesty of what could have been a fruitful marriage. This nightmarish concept of deniability is seen in most, if not all, feminist outings of hyper-realized motion pictures of the illicit damsel in distress. The obstacles she must overcome however are more of a terrifying fairy tale rather than a problem manifesting itself on the bounds of reality. This film presents multiple options of anxiety, you can either fear the shadows or fear the dark. Accepting the notion that these beings need just a fraction of darkness to inhabit their hijinx creates ample anxiousness as pitiful Sally slinks through the hallways not noticing that her leg carefully strafes through a minimal pocket of shade which may or not be her last breath. Even lines regarding the party Sally plans in the beginning of the film leads to a disquieting aurora as she states "He said if the place was dark enough..."

Announced recently was a remake of the made-for-TV cult film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark which sparked an outcry from fans of the original as all remake do. After having watched the original and inspecting it at several vantages, I come to the realization that this is one of those sacred safe properties in which the original might have prophecized this by making the history of the house and creatures/gremlins/homunculi pretty vague, tenebrous enough to barely skim the esoteric past of this house that used to belong to several families before all resulting in the same fate. For anyone to be against the remake is a foolhardy excuse to get riled up for the sake of tarnishing the reputation of a film that only a handful of people have seen. Even with the original property taken as is, it still could be about the elaborate dementia a neglected hostess is suffering from; lack of communication and light tricks could lead to a wavering sanity complex.

Sleeping pills are the bane of horror films, constantly getting heroines in messy situations. Notice how men never suffer from this medicated problem? It's always Nancy Thompson who gets stuck in these situations, these asylum settings of fractured feminine identity that really debases the usage of these prescriptions to help the ladies sleep. After viewing Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, it's high time to realize and cope with the understanding that regardless of your elitism towards films of your childhood era, they will be remade in terrifying productivity. Nothing is untouchable and they will find away to lurk in the shadows and steal what you feel is rightfully yours. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an excellent ambient horror film that is touching, erotic, wistful, and creepy in its own regards. I couldn't be more excited nor proud for a remake than I am for this one.



jervaise brooke hamster said...

I watched this on YouTube about a year ago (after not having seen it for about 20 years) and it came across as mediocre at best (although its still 100 times better than anything the British film industry has ever produced, just to put its relative mediocrity into some better perspective, as it were). By the way, another actress that i really miss is Dana Hill and on the subject of T.V. movies how about a reveiw of the astonishing "Fallen Angel" (1981) admittedly it was yet another product of "THE TIME OF SEXUAL REPRESSION" but Dana Hill was such a gorgeous little darlin` (as well as simultaneously being one of the ugliest little slags i`ve ever seen, a contra-twat-tion that i`ve never been able to fully explain even to this day, you`ll see what i mean when you watch the movie) and i`d really like to hear your opinion on that one.

Anonymous said...

esses monstrinhos não assustam nem meu cachoro! mas quero muito ver esse filme! só pra rir bastante! Marcos Punch.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Its over a year now and that reveiw of the afore-girl-tioned "Fallen Angel" still hasn`t materialised ? ! ? !, in the future it`ll probably be one of the films that they`ll show people just to illustrate how appallingly sexually repressed the 20th century was. By the way, how about a reveiw of the remake of "Dont Be Afraid Of The Dark" if only for the reason that theres a gorgeous little girl in it (always a good reason for watching any film obviously).