Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark 1973 Movie

Last Updated on October 2, 2021 by

Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark 1973 Movie

Don’t be afraid of the dark is a movie that was released in 1973. This is not to be confused with the 2010 remake Don’t be afraid of the dark movie, which is a remake of the original.

Don’t be afraid of the dark 1973 is an American movie made for television directed by John Newland and starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton.  The movie was released by Lorimar Productions and was first broadcasted on ABC on Wednesday, October 10, 1973, during the ABC Movie of the Week. During the early 1970s, drive-in movies became more popular. ABC arranged the Movie of the Week which ran between 1969 and 1975. John Newland’s Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark stood at the forefront of this small screen movement. Today, about 40 years later, the movie is still terrifying and will make you want to sleep with your light on.

Don’t be Afraid of the dark is one of many made-for-TV horror movies made in the 70s, but of those that were released, it is widely argued that Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark was one of the most terrifying – if not the most terrifying. An interesting detail about this movie is that it was cast, shot and edited in two weeks. This was due to an impending writer’s strike. But despite that it was made in only two weeks, it doesn’t feel rushed, nor compromising in quality. So much so that it is still loved, appreciated, and respected today.

The movie is also known as ”Nightmare” in some countries in Europe. In Spanish, the movie goes under the name No tengas miedo a la oscuridad.

The movie is about a young housewife who unknowingly unleashes three goblin-like creatures from within a sealed fireplace in the mansion she lives in – inherited from her late grandmother. The housewife and her husband are now restoring the mansion. The creates now released start terrorizing her and has plans to make her one of them.

”A young couple inherits an old mansion inhabited by small demon-like creatures who are determined to make the wife one of their own.”

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Don’t be afraid of the dark movie 1973 details

  • Directed by: John Newland
  • Rating: NR
  • Written by: Nigel McKeand
  • Runtime: 76 minutes
  • Studio: Lorimar Productions
  • Released in theaters: October 10, 1973

Don’t be afraid of the dark 1973 plot

The 1973 horror movie is about Sally Farnum and her Husband Alex Farnum who inherit an old large mansion from Sally’s deceased grandmother.

It doesn’t take long after moving in that Sally discovers a fireplace that has been closed with bricks in the basement.

The Janitor/handyman of the estate Mr.Harris says that the grandmother had him seal it after she died and advises that they leave it as it is and warns her about it. Mr. Harris advises that “some things are better left undisturbed”.

But Sally ignores his advice and becomes eager to restore the fireplace to its working order. When Mr.Harris leaves for the day, Sally tries to remove the bricks. She fails but successfully opens a door on the side of the fireplace which is used to remove ashes. When Sally leaves the basement, she hears whispering voices calling her name from the fireplace. As they are opened, she lets out demons (creatures), which are followed with the camera as they run out from the fireplace into the house.

From here,  a series of mysteries reveal themselves, such as a locked door, a bricked-up fireplace, etc. that will propel Sally into a waking nightmare.

Sally is awakened in the middle of the night as she hears voices that whisper her name. She raises her concerns to her husband, but he dismisses them in the belief that she is suffering from nervous tension. A common theme in this movie is that the husband is consumed by his job and spends a lot of time traveling. Common for this type of movie is that when she raises her concerns about the creatures, he doesn’t believe her. He dismisses it as a desperate ploy to keep him home.

The action picks up pace as something grabs her dress as she is walking down the stairs one night, and hears whispers saying ”We want you.”. She continues to hear whispering noises but Alex is still unconvinced.

One evening, they host a dinner party for Alex’s colleagues at his law firm. During the dinner, Sally seems a creature near her leg under the dinner table and screams But nobody believes her story of what she saws. Alex becomes more concerned with her in the belief that she is becoming delusional. 

Alex is consumed by his job and works hard for a promotion at work. This causes Sally to feel isolated and unwanted except in a domestic capacity. In the movie, Sally says things like You only married me because I’m the perfect hostess.”  Alex’s response to the stories that Sally comes with is that she needs to seek professional help.

The movie escalates as one day when Sally is showering, the creatures turn off the lights so they can attack her using a razor. She quickly turns the light back on and the creatures disappear from the bright room. After this, Sally tells Alex she thinks they should sell the home. After this, Alex is going away on a business trip and Sally decides to stay with her friend Joan. Before she is about to leave, the creatures try to trip her down the stairs. Instead, they cause her interior decorator’s death.

Sally then asks the creatures what they want, to which they reply: ”your spirit”. Whoever sets them free, which Sally did when opening the fireplace, must become one of them.

Sally gets sedatives prescribed by the doctor. Her friend Joan starts believing Sally’s story of what is going on in the house as Sally tells her when she is there.  But Alex is still unconvinced. The creatures put sedatives into Sally’s coffee and cut the electricity. When Joan goes outside to check the circuit breaker, the creatures lock her out from the house. Sally walks downstairs but is tripped by the creatures in the dark. They continue to drag her down to the basement and into the unsealed fireplace.


  • Kim Darby as Sally Farnham
  • Jim Hutton as Alex Farnham
  • Barbara Anderson as Joan Kahn
  • William Demarest as Mr.Harris
  • Pedro Armendáriz Jr. As Francisco Perez
  • Lesley Woods as Ethyl
  • Robert Cleaves as Doctor
  • Sterling Swanson as Policeman
  • Joel Lawrence as George Kahn (as J.H. Lawrence)
  • William Sylvester as Tom Henderson
  • Don Mallon as Bob
  • Celia Milius as Anne (as Celia Kaye)
  • Elizabeth St. Clair as Party Guest
  • Monika Henreid as Party Guest (as Monica Henreid)
  • Robert Priest as Party Guest
  • Ted Swanson as Bartender
  • Felix Silla as Creature
  • Tamara De Treaux as Creature (as Tamara DeTreaux)
  • Patty Maloney as Creature

Don’t be afraid of the dark was first presented in 1973 but also released on VHS in the 1980s and on DVD on August 18, 2009.

Like most movies, Don’t be afraid of the dark received mixed criticism. However, mostly positive. Today, it has 6,7/10 stars on IMDB.

One review stated,”Overall the film may be a little slow and obvious by today’s standards, but these stand-out moments ensure it a place in the memories of children of the ’70s”.

Another said “While Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark may not be a deep film nor will it win any awards for originality, it’s a fun seventies horror picture with some memorable moments, great camerawork and a genuinely surprising finale.”

Critique of the movie touches the familiar storyline and overuse of the whispering voices of the creatures.

Don’t be afraid of the dark remake

The director Guillermo del Toro was heavily influenced by it when he saw it on television as a child and therefore, he decided to make a remake. The result is the 2010 Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark which has a similar story as the original. Read about the remake here.

Don’t be afraid of the Dark 1973 trailer

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