Once the whole horror remake conveyor belt started moving years ago, it was really only a matter of time until Hollywood rebooted a number of the old TV movie classics, such as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – originally a 1973 TV movie directed by John Newland of Outer Limits Fame – is about a couple that move into a suburban house. Unbeknownst to them, the residence is full of little gremlins who get up to all kinds of deadly mischief.
Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, this is definitely something up his alley, and while the original wasn’t that great, it also means there’s plenty of room for improvement. Obviously, it’s a much better idea to take something okay and upgrade it, rather than take a classic movie, and downgrade it into crap.
There were a lot of horror TV movies back in the day, along with horror series like Dark Shadows, a horror soap opera produced by Dan Curtis that’s about to be remade by Tim Burton, and the great, short lived Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which was a big influence on The X Files.
It’s really hard to make a horror series work, and many didn’t last long until Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Curtis also produced the TV movie Curse of the Black Widow, featuring a deadly spider woman.)
The late seventies was also the time when horror mini-series were launched with The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, and Salem’s Lot. Mini-series took off in the States in 1976 with Rich Man Poor Man, and Roots, and Harvest Home didn’t excel in the ratings department, but Salem’s Lot saved the Stephen King novel from development hell at Warner Brothers, where it originally was going to be a theatrical feature.
Salem’s Lot opened the door for many future King mini-series, and Lot was genuinely terrifying to me at the tender age of eight.
Other horror TV movies from back in the day include: Gargoyles, which had great early creature make-up from the late Stan Winston (Terminator); Satan’s School For Girls (a personal favorite produced by Aaron Spelling featuring feature Angels Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd); The Initiation of Sarah, a Carrie knock off where a nerdy joins a weird sorority and finds the power; Death Moon, which the Psychotronic Encyclopedia called “The best werewolf movie of April ’78;” Trilogy of Terror, which had a classic segment with a murderous doll stalking Karen Black, and the hilarious Devil Dog: Hound of Hell, where a family adopts “Lucky,” a dog possessed by Satan.