Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

dont be afraid of the dark - pic 5

“Sally, Sally…join us.”

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

directed by John Newlandtop 1970's TV horror - small
Written by Nigel McKeand

Starring:
Kim Darby
Jim Hutton
Barbara Anderson
William Demarest

This original, made for TV movie, had a very low-key script with not much back story, and little special effects. Somehow this low-key film managed to be creepy as hell. When Sally and her husband inherit an old Victorian home, she opens up a basement fireplace despite the urging of a family worker telling her she should not. She unknowingly releases little goblins that were locked up in there for decades. They torment her while her husband is out, whispering her name and urging her to “Join us.” The most shocking scene is when Sally is having a dinner party for her husband’s firm and the nasty little demon man pulls the cloth napkin from her lap. There is a great sequence in the bathroom where the little goblins mentally torture her, clicking off the lights to attack but becoming still and silent when she calls her husband in. The husband insists that Sally is having some kind of mental breakdown making her further isolated in fear. This is another TV movie that shocked viewers especially because of the ending.

dont be afraid of the dark - pic 9

Fun Facts:

The movie was filmed in a little over two weeks due to a looming writers strike.

This had been a favorite movie of Guillermo del Toro when he was growing up. He and his brothers would tease each other around the house whispering, “Sally, Sally.” He produced and co-wrote the 2011 remake. Despite the fact, you can skip the remake, it has very little to offer.

dont be afraid of the dark - remastered dvd don-t-be-afraid-of-the-dark-original dvd

dont be afraid of the dark - TV Guide ad

Toys in the Attic – Anthology Book Review

Toys in the Attic 

Anthology – JWK Fiction
Edited by Mary Gwenivieve Fortier

toys-in-the-attic“Into the Attic” is a short poem that suitably opens the wonderfully themed anthology, Toys in the Attic. It’s followed by an introduction for the theme, tempting the reader to journey up the steps into that dark and dusty place at the peak of the home where forgotten playthings wait in the shadows. Both are written by the talented Mary Gwenivieve Fortier and they set the mood for what lies ahead; toys that are monsters and monstrous toys, sinister fun for the horror fan. The horror comes in poetry, prose, limericks and short tales. The poems are not the poems of days gone by but modern tales, easier to read and more blatant than a Frost or Whitman. The first striking poem is “Aiding Evil” by Lemmy Rushmore, where a dollhouse removed from the attic portends the fates of the family in the real house. It was followed by a short story concerning a dollhouse titled “Light in the Attic,” by Essel Pratt where the character starts on the outside looking into the toy windows only to have at some point experienced a paradigm shift and is then looking out of the dollhouse windows and doors. “Magic Macabre” by Sheldon Woodbury was a finely written story and a pleasure to read. The disappearance of an aging magician leads a man back to his childhood home where he discovers a magic kit in a trunk that had been waiting there for him since he was a child.

“Tea Time for the Innocents,” by Nicola Nicoli was a horrifying tale concerning a child’s tea set carefully laid out in the attic of a man’s new home and a creepy ghost girl host that needs living children to attend her little tea party. “The Pig in the House” by Alex S. Johnson was unnerving, as a young girl finds a dollhouse with figures that represent everyone in her family plus one extra, of a Pig. Josh Brown had a haunting tale about a view-master toy in which he saw his wife’s death among the images. This one reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. John Palisano had an interesting story about the early video game system, the Atticus 2000 titled, “The Waiting.” This mystery story and was a good deviation from the horror tales. Right away you sense a difference in the writing style. “Gronk the Gruesome” by Thomas M Malafarina was another of my favorites for its nostalgic sense of old toys, 50s sci-fi and childhood wishes, when a man finds an old robotic monster toy in the attic of a former grade school bully.

Tim Wellman‘s, “The Last Turn” displayed shades of Jumanji but had its own feel. I was impressed with Chad Lutzke’s story, “Calm Before the Storm.” It had the restraint and class of a veteran writer of an earlier time, reminiscent of Ambrose Bierce or Robert Bloch. “Etched in Blood” was a chilling tale of an evil child trapped in an etch-a-sketch by Lori R. Lopez. “Maggie and the Zeotrope” by Krista Clark Grabowski was a well rounded story that relayed the short life of a child and her wicked step-mother. “Jacks” by Nicholas Day was a great short tale with excellent pacing. Dona Fox had a wonderful tale concerning a toy snake taken from a voodoo priestess grave in New Orleans many years ago in, “Li Gran Toy Zombi.” It’s always a chilling pleasure to read her stories. The anthology ends with an eerie tale by David Shutz II, concerning a toy phone.

There were some great poems and artwork included in the book along with the top notch stories I highlighted here. An enjoyable read over all. See if your favorite childhood toy has taken up residence in “the Attic” and what evil deeds it will unleash upon those who discover them.

kindle or paperback versions
Available at Amazon: Toys in the Attic

teddy bear and toy chest cristinasroom on etsy

 

Trilogy of Terror (1975) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

Trilogy of Terror - pic 5

Trilogy of Terror (1975)

directed by Dan Curtistop 1970's TV horror - small
written by Richard Matheson
and William F. Nolan

Starring:
Karen Black
Robert Burton
John Karlen
George Gaynes

Trilogy of Terror posterDan Curtis and Richard Matheson are together again for another exceptional TV movie, perhaps the best of the lot. Karen Black plays 4 different characters in three separate stories of this horror anthology film. The last segment has pushed this made-for-TV film into legendary cult status. A lonely woman gets a Polynesian Zuni Fetish Doll as a gift. When handling it she knocks off it’s protection necklace and the thing comes to life with a thirst for blood and death. The battle between Karen Black’s character, Amelia, and the evil warrior doll in a small claustrophobic apartment is one of the great conflicts in horror films. That doll still haunts the dark corridors of my nightmares. While everyone talks about the Zuni Fetish doll episode, ‘Amelia‘, the other two stories are quite good also. Karen Black who at the time had not been considered a horror film actress excelled in the lead roles of this film and especially the last segment. If you have not seen this film I recommend that you do it. Hopefully it still stands the test of time and new viewers are as frightened by it as original viewers were in the 1970’s.

Trilogy of Terror - pic 6

Fun facts:

During the “Julie” segment, a shy teacher agrees to go to a movie with a student. The movie is supposedly a French vampire film, but what we see on the screen are scenes from The Night Stalker.

Karen Black came up with the idea of grinning and showing fang-like teeth similar to the ‘zuni’ doll in the final scene of  ‘Amelia.’

In the Nightmares and Dreamscapes episode, “Battleground” (Stephen King) the hitman has the Zuni fetish doll from “Trilogy of Terror” in a display case.

 

trilogy of terror - TV Guide ad Trilogy of Terror - pic 4

(TV Guide Ad pic thanks to ‘Joe’s Rec Room’)

The Night Strangler (1973) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

the night strangler - pic 7

The Night Strangler (1973)

Written by Richard Mathesontop 1970's TV horror - small
Directed by Dan Curtis

Starring:
Darren McGavin
Simon Oakland
Jo Ann Pflug
Richard Anderson

Dan Curtis, Richard Matheson, and Darren McGavin return with another TV movie. Hard Boiled reporter, Kolchak, having been escorted by police out of Las Vegas, finds himself in Seattle with his loud and reluctant boss, Vincenzo. This one concerns a killer living in the Seattle underground,the night strangler - poster the city buried beneath the city, and a series of murders taking place every 21 years since the 1800’s. Strangler offers even more mystery than the first film and has some gripping suspense and action. There are enjoyable cameos and guest stars including, John Carradine, Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), Wally Cox and Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch of the West).

This film offers more of the action, mystery, and suspense seen in ‘Stalker’ but never feels redundant. ‘Strangler’ is as good as ‘Stalker’ due to Darren McGavin’s immersion into the character and another finely written script. The film’s success prompts ABC to create a series. Like I stated in the Night Stalker review, Curtis and Matheson were not part of the series, but I have reviewed one of my fave episodes and mentioned others in different posts. I will probably review more of my fave episodes in future posts, as I often watch the series around Halloween each year.

the night strangler - pic 10

Fun Facts:

A 3rd film in the series was planned titled, The Night Killers. Conflicting story ideas show up for the 3rd film. One has Kolchak visiting NY and finding a vampire lair. The other idea placed him in in Hawaii and involved UFO’s and a government conspiracy/cover-up. The story is reminiscent of the X-Files. The 3rd film was abandoned when ABC decided to instead order the TV series.

The Seattle Underground. In 1889, Old Seattle was devastated by a destructive fire. Instead of rebuilding the area the same, city builders decided to raise the level of the city. This would ensure areas would no longer be flooded and that tides would not back up the toilets in the area. The new street level was anywhere from 12 to 30 feet higher than the old one. In 1965 an underground tour was stated to visit the ruins.

links:
The Night Stalker movie review
The Night Stalker episode review
The History of Zombies in film

The People That Time Forgot (1977) – movie review

the people that time forgot pic 21

The People That Time Forgot (1977)

Amicus Films
Directed by Kevin Conner

Starring:
Patrick Wayne
Doug McClure
Sarah Douglas
Dana Gillespie
Thorley Walters
Shane Rimmer

This is the sequel to The Land that Time Forgot. Overall it is a step down from its predecessor but there’s some exciting dino-interaction scenes, especially early on. The script, plot, and story is sub-par even for a dinosaur/action adventure film. It was directed by Kevin Conner as were all the E.R. Burroughs Films done by Amicus (and AIP).

Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne) sets out on a mission to rescue Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) from the mysterious land of Caprona, where he was the people that time forgot dvdabandoned in the first film. Their plane is downed by a pterodactyl and the gunman/ mechanic is tasked with fixing the plane while the rest of the rescue team searches for Tyler. They meet a cave woman who had learned English from Tyler and she leads them to a race of more advanced warriors who are holding Tyler captive. Naturally the team sets Tyler free, a volcano erupts (because that’s how all dinosaur films end) and the team escapes. There is some fun sparing between the male team members and a female photographer, Charly (Sarah Douglass) early in the film. The cave woman, Ajor, (Dana Gillespie) provides some eye candy, with a bursting bust-line and big hair.

The main scene that makes the film worth watching is the pterodactyl fighting the plane. It is much like a dog-fight in war films and makes for an outstanding action sequence. It goes on for a bit of time and is wonderfully choreographed. The film goes downhill after that, but it’s occasionally bolstered by a funky looking Stegosaurus, some cave monsters, and some sword and sorcery type hand to hand combat. There were a couple of Ceratosaurus, but truthfully I made better looking dinosaurs as a kid from playing with my mashed potatoes at dinner. A few of the creatures in the skull caves looked like repainted monsters leftover from At the Earths Core. The film doesn’t give much credit for the dino effects, but I’m quite sure they didn’t use Roger Dicken who crafted some impressive looking puppets in the first film. Ironically Tyler dies after they rescue him which kind of makes the whole film feel redundant. Amicus Films actually closed before the film came out, but AIP, the distributor, went ahead with the release.

the people that time forgot pic 17
Fun Facts:

Dana Gillespie was primarily a singer whose teen single was produced by Jimmy Page, did folk music thru the 1970s, sang back up vocals on David Bowie’s, Ziggy Stardust album, and starred in the London Palace Theater’s Production of Jesus Christ Super Star. She finally settled into the blues genre and has over 25 albums to her name including her most recent, Cat’s Meow in 2014. Every year she runs a Blues Festival in the Caribbean that attracts name musicians from all over the world.

The Land That Time Forgot review
See more Amicus Films reviews at the Amicus Films Overview page
See more dinosaur films at the Dinosaur films Overview page

The Gargoyles (1972) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

gargoyles 1972 - pic 21

The Gargoyles (1972)

Directed by Bill L. Nortontop 1970's TV horror - small
Starring:
Cornel Wilde
Jennifer Salt
Grayson Hall
Bernie Casey
Scott Glenn

Can you say Stan Winston? This film is slow paced by today’s standards but I remember being scared when it had first aired on television. I was a youngster and the alpha gargoyle was quite convincing, due to the make-up effects of a young Stan Winston. Combine his incredible make-up work with a powerful voice put through a voice filter and you have a threatening character. The story is simplistic but I still find this watch-able once it get rolling. It has some PG violence which includes smashing through walls and doors, ripping car doors off their hinges and turning over a station wagon. It also uses slo-mo to make the gargoyle beasts seem to have unnatural movement. It is totally obvious but aesthetically pleasing. What I find interesting is similarities found in horror flicks which would follow; the early scene where the farmer has a skeleton in his barn/warehouse reminds me of Jeepers Creepers. Also, the beasts come alive every so-many years then go dormant for a long period. Another early scene has a gargoyle jump on the station wagon roof from behind in a scene filmed quite like a similar scene in Halloween. And, burning the lair of eggs reminded me of a similar scene in Aliens. Love for this film is probably more nostalgic than anything, but it does have cult horror flick status. I still enjoy watching it but I like all those 70’s horror flicks.

gargoyles 1972 - pic 14

Fun Facts:
The entire film was shot with a single camera in 18 days.

Vic Perrin did a voice-over for the head gargoyle in post-production because they didn’t think Bernie Casey’s voice fit the character.

Bill Norton remained an active TV director to date directing episodes of Law and Order, Angel, Medium, The Guardian, and an episode each of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghost Whisperer.

No doubt this film had some influence in a Halloween costume design I set up some years later: 

mike k - halloween 1991 b

Its a bit fuzzy but I got the horns and fangs, I’m carrying snakes, I have skulls hanging from my “wings”…lotsa’ fun stuff!

The Night Stalker (1972) – movie review

the night stalker - pic 9

Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s

In the 1970’s the major networks began producing their own horror movies brought on by the success of the Dan Curtis’ TV film, Dark Shadows, and it‘s subsequent series. At this time period more than any other, horror flicks flourished on prime-time network television. I am going to review a bunch of these flicks. Each will be posted with my “TV Horror flick logo”

The Night Stalker (1972)top 1970's TV horror - small

kolchak--the-night-stalkerDirected by John Llewllyn Moxey
Starring
Darren McGavin
Simon Oakland
Carol Lynley
Barry Atwater

 

Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson teamed up to produce and adapt the Jeff Rice unpublished novel, The Kolchak Papers. Renamed The Night Stalker. It held the record in ratings for the most watched TV movie up to that time boasting a 54% Market share. Filmed for ABC, it was an entertaining vampire film with an outstanding protagonist in Carl Kolchak played deftly by Darren McGavin. I remember the vampire being highly active and having tremendous strength, different than vampires in films up to the time. It was a huge event to have a horror film on prime time TV and it made for active water cooler and school hall chatter for weeks. The finale where Kolchak enters the vampires lair to drive a stake through the vampire’s heart offers rich suspense and atmosphere as powerful as any major film. This film was followed by another made for TV film, The Night Strangler, and a TV series. Unfortunately, Curtis and Matheson were not part of the series which struggled for two years before being cancelled, but there are some fun episodes in the series nevertheless. The Night Stalker is a great movie and holds up well even to this day.

the night stalker - pic 2

 

related links:

The Night Stalker TV episode review
The Night Strangler review – coming soon