One night in the 1980s, after my family got cable TV, I was laying on the large brown couch in the living room. It was summer. I remember, because the air conditioning was on. I was skipping between channels on the bulky wired controller the cable companies used back then, when I hit the start of a horror movie called, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. I had never heard of the movie before, but it seemed to me to be the perfect way to pass a lazy summer evening. I did not know what to expect, if I had known it was a made for TV movie, I would have lowered my expectations, but of course that would have been a huge mistake.
I don’t want to give to much away, but the film begins with a house restoration that reveals a lurking evil. Now when the “evil” first appeared, I think I may have giggled, but do not let that deter you from the rest of the movie. It does have some B horror qualities, but it is in fact one of the creepiest made for TV movies ever made. How do I know that? Well when the movie was over, it was already pretty late and those evil creatures I had giggled about an hour or so ago? They started appearing in every shadow in the house. And for the rest of the summer, they would plague my dreams.
The movie is an effective horror film because it IS creepy, well written and well acted. Revealing just enough about these creatures that plague this house without giving too much away, which allows us to fill in the blanks in the worst kind of way.
Alright so I established I am a fan. A fan who would own a VHS copy of the movie that was given to him by a friend. That copy was well worn, well lent out and just about impossible to watch nowadays. So like many fans I was waiting for the official DVD release. I waited and waited and waited. Well no longer! The Warner Archive, champion of so many great films, has found the wisdom to release the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on DVD this week.
It’s back! The classic TV MOW that continues to cast a spell almost 40 years after it was first broadcast, in a new remastered and enhanced edition. Sally (Kim Darby) and Alex Farnham’s (Jim Hutton) marriage has a sinister wedge driven through it, when her occult “imaginings” threaten to derail his career after they inherit Sally’s grandmother’s house. Also starring William Demarest. Enhanced Content: Superfan commentary track from horror fans and pros Jeffrey Reddick, Steve Barton (“Uncle Creepy”) and Sean Ably.
I was lucky enough to get access to a screener copy and the movie looks great. I am so accustomed to my lo-fi copy or seeing it cut up with commercials, that watching it again was a completely new experience. Add to the a commentary track by some horror fans/experts that is informational and you got the makings of a solid DVD release.
I am pretty sure this film is only getting a release because of the upcoming remake. So even if I do not like the remake, I am grateful to see it hit theaters, because it probably spurred the release of this made for television horror classic.