Dark Places (1973)

UK,
91m, 8,157 ft
35mm film, Eastmancolor
mono, English

A British horror film directed by Don Sharp.

Plot Summary

Former psychiatric patient Edward Foster inherits a dilapidated mansion from a fellow inmate, Andrew Marr who murdered his wife and children there. Foster is soon possessed by Marr's spirit and starts slaughtering the ambulance chasers who turn up at the house looking for Marr's fortune while the of the murdered children stalk the halls…

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Don Sharp
© MCMLXXIII [1973] Glenbeigh Limited
A James Hannah Jr production
Produced by: James Hannah Jr
Production Supervisor: Frank Bevis
Written by: Ed Brennan & Joseph Van Winkle
Assistant Director: Barry Langley
Continuity: Phllis Townshend
Director of Photography: Ernest Stewart
Camera Operator: Dudley Lovell
Best Boy: George Boner *
Gaffer: Michael Browne *
Grip and Lighting Equipment: Lee Lighting Ltd *
Photographed in Eastman Colour
Processed by Technicolor
Film Editor: Teddy Darvas
Music Composed by: Wilfred Josephs
Conducted by: Philip Martell
Sound Recordists: Laurie Clarkson, Paddy Cuningham
Sound Editor: Pat Foster
Wardrobe: Dorothy Edwards
Make-up: Basil Newall
Hairdresser: Helen Lennox
Art Director: Geoffrey Tozer
Assistant Art Director: Pamella Cornell

Cast
Christopher Lee (Dr Mandeville)
Joan Collins (Sarah)
Herbert Lom (Prescott)
Jane Birkin (Alta)
Robert Hardy as Edward
Jean Marsh (Victoria)
Carleton Hobbs (Old Marr)
Roy Evans (Baxter)
Martin Boddey (police sergeant)
Jennifer Thanisch (Jessica)
Michael McVey (Francis)
John Glyn-Jones (bank manager)
John Levene (doctor)
Barry Linehan (gatekeeper)
Linda Gray (woman on hill)
Lysandre De la Haye, Earl Rhodes (children on hill)

Alternative Titles

Das Grab der lebenden Puppen – West Germany
Le Manoir des fantasmes – France
La scala della follia – Italy

Press

1974
Variety 22 May 1974 p.275
[A] mechanical psychic- meller of no distinction. Horror fans won't rush to catch this tepid thriller in theatres, since it's certain the James Hannah Jr production will crop up on latenight tv in no time flat. […] Robert Hardy [is] a competent actor with little charismatic appeal […] In every respect this is a ho-hum effort. Don Sharp directs the Ed Brennan-Joseph Van Winkle screen play sluggishly, while the performers handle their roles with indifferent professionalism. Technical credits are adequate. – by Beau

Boxoffice 21 October 1974 p.106
[A]n enjoyable little thriller which incorporates mystery, suspense, psychological disorder, a gruesome climax and a love factor into one package. Robert Hardy gives a skilled performance in a dual role as a man whose mind plays psychic tricks on him […] Mystery fans will be disappointed at the number of loose ends remaining at the end of the film, but horror fans will enjoy the intriguing, suspenseful situations and won't be as disturbed by some dead-end plot paths. […] [D]irected by Don Sharp, “Dark Places” is well-crafted entertainment.

1975
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.42 no.497 (June 1975) p.132
Parts of this rather Hammerish horror are quite ingeniously plotted but how unfortunate that the action should revolve round that most hackneyed of institutions, the old dark house (complete with attendant trappings: the frightened taxi driver who warns that no one from the village goes up to Marr's Grove after dark, the sinister doctor who contrives supernatural manifestations to scare off the new resident). Don Sharp has his work cut out for him trying to gee up this old warhorse but achieves a couple of quite agreeable frissons when the moribund Marr suddenly sits bolt upright to gasp his last (“Alta, dear God, forgive me”), and when Foster knocks a hole in his bedroom wall thereby releasing a flock of bats. Sharp also manages to keep his head when all about are losing theirs (literally in the case of the two children) during a grisly denouement. His timing and discretion keep the carnage just the right side of crude excess. – by David McGillivray

The Times 4 July 1975
“[Dark Places and Diagnosis: Murder] are typical of a large segment of what the British cinema turns out today – inert, flavourless, uninventive, unimaginative. In neither is there the slightest attempt to root the pictures in any recognizable world or to create freshly observed characters. Yet it is precisely on films like this that our talented young directors should be allowed to cut their teeth in the way that Roger Gorman trained a generation of American film-makers on his horror movies in Hollywood. It is not the thriller and horror genres that are moribund – only the talents currently working in them. – Philip French

References

Periodicals

  • Castle of Frankenstein no.23 p.51
  • CinemaTV Today no.10007 (18 November 1972) p.11 – credits
  • CinemaTV Today no.10019 (17 February 1973) p.7 – credits (Music recording in February)
  • CinemaTV Today no.10019 (17 February 1973) p.8 – credits (Post production)
  • Flesh and Blood no.3 (1994) pp.30, 31 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.231 no.28 (23 May 1974) p.12 – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.42 no.497 (June 1975) p.132 – credits, review (by David McGillivray)
  • Variety 22 May 1974 p.18 – credits, review

Books

  • American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig pp.110-111
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.249
  • The Christopher Lee Filmography by Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller pp.255-257
  • Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History by Jonathan Rigby pp.155, 186
  • Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again p.93 – credits, review (by John Stanley)
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.227, 244
  • Film Review 1976-1977 by F. Maurice Speed p.164
  • The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.160-161
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 pp.89-90 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.79
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.141 – credits, review
  • Ten Years of Terror p.180 – illustrated credits, review (by Nigel Burrell)
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.69
  • Unsung Horrors by Eric McNaughton & Darrell Buxton (eds) pp.98-99 – illustrated review (by Kevin Nickelson)