Tag Archives: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Throwback Thursday: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (1973)

I was only a baby when ABC debuted the original “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” in 1973, but I caught it when it was rebroadcast around the end of the decade, when I was … six or seven years old?  And dear GOD did it scare the crap out of me.

Since then, it’s become a minor legend in the horror fan community as one of the rare made-for-television movies that is easily as scary as something you’d see in a theater.  This was the film that was remade in 2010, produced by Guillermo del Toro and with Katie Holmes in the lead role.  (And I thought that the remake was a fun horror fantasy, even if it wasn’t terribly scary.)

I actually caught the film again about ten years ago, courtesy of Netflix’ DVD-by-mail service.  And it was still creepy enough.


One scary “Mama.”

“Mama” (2013) was quite good; I’d give it an 8 out of 10.  Jessica Chastain does a great job with a well written character arc — initially unlikable, but then a surprising heroine.  And it’s great that she got top billing, instead of the film’s obligatory telegenic male protagonist, who actually spends a lot of time off-screen.

Guillermo del Toro actually didn’t direct this, as I thought — he was the executive producer.  The director and screenwriter was Andrés Muschietti.  But I swear this has the feel of del Toro’s work.  It could stand as a thematic sequel to the wonderful “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” remake, for example, which also had strong elements of childhood fantasy and motherhood as a theme.

And what a great and beautifully creepy use of CGI to render the title baddie.  In fact, the whole movie was visually terrific, with a fairy-tale-ish use of movement and color that was cool, creative and different.  There are really clever flourishes for fright-flick fans — I personally really liked the tug-of-war scene.

I occasionally noticed some plot-convenient mysteries … one character is assaulted but survives?  And “Mama” can move with either lightning speed or plodding slowness, depending on what the story calls for.  And … at one point … do we actually have a zombie?  Do we need to call on Rick Grimes and his band of survivors from “The Walking Dead?”

This was fun.  Check it out.