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Saturday, May 5, 2012

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)

Kim Darby & Jim Hutton, in their post-feature tv purgatory days, discover a gaggle of nasty Gremlins hiding in the Fixer-Upper they’ve inherited. The mini-spooks were safely sealed up years ago by handyman William Demarest, trapped behind bricks in the cellar fireplace. But darned if Kim doesn’t want to remodel the room as a study. And darned if those dead little freaks of nature aren’t ka-razy to get their teeny paws on her. Yikes! Seen at the right age (say 8 or 9), this bargain-basement Movie-of-the-Week scare-fest can stick in your head. Cultists include the likes of director Guillermo del Toro who went to the trouble of producing a slick, poorly received remake in 2010. But it’s not the sort of thing you want to make ‘New & Improved!’ Clunky execution and those squeaky little ogre voices account for nine-tenths of whatever spooky charm it’s got. The only thing you might want to add might be period advertisements during the commercial interruption spots, and maybe a bit of subfusc tv reception. That might help.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Boomers may recall that director John Newland was the skeptical, gracious, calm & creepy host of ONE STEP BEYOND/’59-‘61, a sort of diseased TWILIGHT ZONE ripoff. Now, there’s a cult waiting to happen.

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