Thursday, July 22, 2010

don't be afraid of the dark [1973]

the flickering of lights. the after-image of a snuffed flame. something un-seen out of the corner of your eye and when you turn to look it is not there. but you are sure there was something that moved right there. there.

movies have a fascinating after-life. the passage of time distorts, adds to, and/or deletes our memories of what we had seen. we are sure it happened because we watched it. or that that couldn't have happened because that is not how we replay it in our minds.

i've not seen this made-for-tv movie in decades. i recall flashes of darkness. images that haunt and a profound feeling of dread as i bring this picture into my mind's eye. my recall is similar to the shadows the poor sods saw on the walls of plato's cave.

the plot is this: young, professional couple move in to a beautiful victorian. the wife, played by kim darby, finds a sealed fireplace and the old coot of a caretaker tells the wife, sally, it is better left sealed. what happens couldn't happen anywhere else but in a horror movie. sally removes the seal and finds that the fireplace is a portal to hell or another dimension. and there are creatures, tiny, articulate, intelligent creatures that are but wisps of shadows who torment sally.

because sally is one of them that will set these creatures free. sally is an unwitting sentinel and the fulfillment of a prophecy. it is now time for the assassins. that's all i remember. i do remember being scared out of my motherfucking mind when i saw this. things that lurk in the shadows are scary, hands down. to hear whispering and not locate the source is an embodiment of fear. the fear is atavistic, like what our ancestors felt as they looked beyond the campfire and imagined what was hidden in the surrounding dark.

no one believes our luckless heroine and i can't recall if she escapes or not from these unthings from the netherworld. doesn't matter for my memories of this pic are whittled by these long years. what i recall are snapshots and aural clips. i also remember the fear i felt too. made-for-tv movies is a dead art. most of these tv movies sucked big time. there are exceptions and it is difficult to describe the feelings of fear, anticipation and excitement that i as a child in the 1970s felt for these kind of films. sorta like christmas, halloween and that first kiss rolled into one life-giving and death-dealing experience as i prepared myself with a bowl of popcorn and a couple of slices of rico's pizza for a night of my life.


At 10:02 AM, Blogger Ed Baker said...

I just hate it when
a young professional couple
move into a flickering-flame It
re:minds me of the time when
she and me were foot-loose and phantasy

At 9:54 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

if it weren't for these here young couples moving into haunted houses and looking into all the dark nooks and crannies and chasing down every odd whisper of the wind and shit we'd lose nearly half of all horror movie plots. so i say, god bless 'em, everyone.


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