Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Originally aired: October 10, 1973 on ABC
Directed by: John Newland
Starring: Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, William Demarest
For many of us who grew up watching horror on the boob tube, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” remains a cherished memory. Kim Darby plays the frumpy, serious and presumably repressed housewife who inherits a house. While remodeling, longtime handyman Demarest begs Darby not to open a bricked-over fireplace. Of course that fuels Darby’s frigid fire and she opens a doorway to hell.
Some will say “Don’t Be Afraid” hasn’t aged well, but I think the simplistic storyline, downbeat ending and weird demons make it a classic. It might not resonate so well with newbies, but it certainly brings back some great memories for those of us lucky enough to have caught it during its original run.
Originally aired: October 30, 1973 on ABC
Directed by: Lee H. Katzin
Starring: Arthur Hill, Diana Muldaur, James Stacy
A remake of Roy Ward Baker’s 3-D thriller “Inferno.” In this update, Muldaur plays the unhappy cheatin’ wife, who along with her home wrecking (but certainly sexy) boyfriend, leaves her hubby (Hill) to rot in the desert. Hill, on the other hand, has some survival tactics up his sleeve as he fights the elements to exact revenge.
Where Have All the People Gone?
Originally aired: October 8, 1974 on NBC
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Starring Peter Graves, Kathleen Quinlan, Verna Bloom
Moxey constructs yet another complex and ominous thriller. After a solar flare nearly exterminates the entire human race, the remaining few must fend off wild dogs, radiation and other survivors. Graves plays the scientist father who leads what’s left of his family from the mountains to the desolate beaches of California. An intelligent, surreal and dark sci-fi yarn that would have been a great idea for a series, although this seems to be a stand alone film. Highly recommended.
The Stranger Within
Originally aired: October 1, 1974 on ABC
Directed by: Lee Philips
Starring: Barbara Eden, George Grizzard, Joyce Van Patten, David Doyle
Plenty of trouble finds arty housewife Eden when she becomes an expectant mother. First of all, her husband had a vasectomy. Secondly, every time she attempts to have an abortion, the fetus prevents her. And now she’s reading thick books in a matter of minutes, eating pounds of salt and acting just a wee bit strange. Looks like the person who said “You’re baby will be like no other on earth”, meant it!
Creepy and brimming with atmosphere and dread, “The Stranger Within” sustains the suspense as well as giving Eden a chance to show off her underrated acting chops. An offbeat and claustrophobic thriller written by the wonderful Richard Matheson, it’s a subtle and eerie Halloween treat.
Originally aired: October 9, 1974 for ABC
Directed by: Richard T. Heffron
Starring: Ron Howard, Ben Johnson, Katherine Helmond
A dishonorably discharged military pilot goes into another battle when he returns home and find his family’s livelihood is being overrun by locusts. Ritchie Cunningham takes on thousands of creepy crawlies and all without the help of Fonzie!
Originally aired: October 23, 1974 on ABC
Directed by: Buzz Kulik
Starring: Kim Hunter, Scott Jacoby, Dabney Coleman
Based on the novel by John Holbrook Vance, but toned down for television, “Bad Ronald” is one of the more infamous TVMs of the decade. Scott Jacoby plays Ronald Wilby, a shy teenager held closely under watch by his domineering mother. After he accidentally kills a taunting kid, Mom gets the brilliant idea to wall Ronald up in the center of the house and tell the police that he’s run away. This would be great if dear old mother hadn’t checked herself into the hospital and never checked out. Ronald spends the rest of his days living in a fantasy land he created called Atrana and drawing pictures of his fantasy girlfriend, Princess Vancetta. Soon a new family moves in, and guess who the youngest daughter looks like? This is when Ronald gets real bad…
A classic of the genre and a personal favorite, “Bad Ronald” is creepy as hell. Directed by a master of the small screen, Kulik (“Brian’s Song”) keeps the setting tight and claustrophobic, never letting the viewer (or Ronald) venture too far out of his deranged mind. A dark thriller reeking of Halloween scares.
Originally aired: October 30, 1974 on ABC
Directed by: Ralph Senensky
Starring: Richard Long, Kate Jackson, Edward Albert
“Love Boat” gone straight to hell. Various familiar faces of the small screen are lured onto a luxury cruise liner under the guise that they’ve won a contest. However, someone has actually cooked up a delicious plan to off everyone!
Two years before Aaron Spelling cast Jackson in “Charlie’s Angels”, he was apparently already spellbound with her. “Death Cruise” is just one of several TVMs she starred in for him and she’s never been more fabulous. A groovy little slasher.
The Deadly Tower
Originally aired: October 18, 1975 on NBC
Directed by: Jerry Jameson
Starring: Kurt Russell, John Forsythe, Ned Beatty
Based on the true story of the water tower sniper who killed several people, it makes an interesting choice for Halloween watching based on the bleak subject matter. Russell puts in another strong performance as the morally destitute killer. For another take on this story, albeit mostly fictional, double feature “Tower” with Peter Bogdanovich’s “Targets”.
The Night That Panicked America
Originally aired on: October 31, 1975 on ABC
Directed by: Joseph Sargent
Starring: Vic Morrow, Michael Constantine, Meredith Baxter
1975 was the year for fact based Halloween movies. “Panicked” is based on the night of the Orson Welles’ broadcast of “War of the Worlds”, which sent people fleeing their homes in a panic because they believed the invasion was real. A fitting night to air this fun TVM and an apt tribute to… “The Night That Panicked America”.
Look What Happened to Rosemary’s Baby
Originally aired: October 29, 1976 on ABC
Directed by: Sam O’Steen
Starring: Patty Duke, Stephen McHattie, Ruth Gordon
A lackluster sequel to “Rosemary’s Baby” and an even more mediocre offering as the only network horror movie for the month of Halloween, it does feature a bit of atmosphere and is well acted, but like the spawn of Satan himself, it’s pretty soulless.
Get the rest of the story in part three of JEEPERS CREEPERS! TV FEATURES>>>