Katie Holmes Remade A Fan Favorite 1970s Horror That Needs Help

By Brian Myers | Published

don't be afraid of the dark

In 2010, Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and produced a gothic horror film that put its star Katie Holmes up against demonic creatures that dwell deep within the bowels of an old manor that she and her boyfriend are restoring. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was a moderate box office success, though many of its fans were unaware that the Troy Nixey-directed movie was based on a low-budget film from several decades before. The original movie of the same name was released directly to the ABC network in 1973 and serves as one of the scariest made-for-TV films ever produced.

The Original

don't be afraid of the dark

The original version of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark follows Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) and her husband Alex (Jim Hutton) as they move into an old mansion that was left to Sally by her deceased grandmother.

Sally is drawn to a fireplace in the basement that has been sealed off by brick. When she asks the handyman, Mr. Harris (William Demarest) about it, he tells the young woman that he was ordered to brick it off by Sally’s grandmother and it’s best to just leave it alone.

Curiosity Isn’t Always Rewarding

Of course, Sally isn’t going to leave it alone. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark shows Sally’s curiosity getting the better of her as she uses Mr. Harris’s tools to pry open the small door next to the fireplace that allows for ash removal. To her astonishment, she sees that what was concealed behind the brickwork wasn’t a fireplace at all, but a sub basement.

The Attacks

don't be afraid of the dark

Sally begins to hear faint voices calling to her in the night, beckoning her to “join them.” Alex believes she is suffering delusions, even after she is attacked by three goblin-looking creatures in her shower. As Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark builds into its chilling climax, audiences will see whether or not Sally’s determination and wits will be able to be enough to escape the fate that she released from the mansion’s hidden lair.

Low Budget Greatness

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is low budget TV, but quickly found a fanbase. The eerie voice effects of the creatures haunting Sally are terrifying enough, helping to build a terror around things unseen. The creatures do make appearances, however, and are about what you’d expect from a low budget 70s made for TV production.

Rent It Now


The mean little goblins are played by Felix Silla (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Ghostbusters 2), Tamara De Treaux (Ghoulies, E.T.), and Patty Maloney (Ice Pirates, Legend). While they do succeed in giving audiences some pretty well-timed jump scares, the real horror that exists in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is in the sounds and voices that echo throughout the long shadows in the mansion while Sally is all alone.

The film stands as one of the scariest made-for-TV endeavors by any network, perhaps being rivaled only by the 1979 CBS movie Salem’s Lot.

You cannot stream the 1973 version of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, but you are currently able to rent it On Demand with Google Play.