This year, Exhumed Films partnered with PhilaMOCA to present a week’s worth of horror films that aired on TV back in the 1970s. Most if not all of these were originally produced by Lorimar Productions and telecast on ABC. This past week the movies were presented on gorgeous 35mm and consisted of five double features and one triple feature to close out the festival. The first night featured the beloved Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (a remake was produced by Guillermo Del Toro in 2011) and The Cat Creature.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was directed by John Newland, creator of the paranormal series One Step Beyond, and focuses on a group of mischievous goblins that live inside the fireplace of a Victorian mansion. The film has a lot of memorable moments, usually involving the antics of the goblins as they cause all sorts of trouble for new homeowners Sally and Alex. The creatures are vulnerable under the light, so they do all they can to stay in the dark, such as using a coat hanger to switch off the lights from the safety of a dark closet. Also, because the creatures are so small, they have to use creative methods to kill those that stand in their way.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was one of the better known films to screen during the festival and because of its popularity, it was a great way to kick things off.
Closing out the double feature was the lesser known The Cat Creature. Written by Robert Bloch (Psycho and many more), the story follows the disappearance of a mummy and an amulet from the collection of a deceased rich man. When people connected to the case start dying, it’s up to a group of scholars from the university to help the police solve the case.
The Cat Creature represented a shift in tone from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Its pace is much slower, relying heavily on exposition rather than action, and there is more mystery at the heart of the story. At times, it even seemed to drag, however the ending is quite the payoff. Totally over-the-top, strange, and wonderful.
While Days 3 and 5 were arguably the strongest, Day 1 started things off properly with the iconic Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and did a good job setting the tone for what was to follow.