Guillermo Del Toro has always loved the 1973 TV movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and there were a lot of horror TV movies back in 70’s that scared some of us when we were kids.
Many of them are a real trip to watch in modern times, usually because they’re pretty funny by today’s standards, like Devil Dog: Hound of Hell, although some of them still hold up, like Steven Spielberg’s Duel, and Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot.
Where the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark isn’t that scary by today’s standards, at first glance Del Toro’s version looks like the studio did a good job updating the franchise.
Like Pan’s Labyrinth, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark revolves around a young kid as well, and is supposed to take us back to our childhood fears of the noises in the closet, or what’s supposed to be hiding under the bed.
Yes, there are reviews and online opinions about the monsters in the film, which some claim aren’t big, tall and scary, but rather, small and deadly.
Still, as the saying goes, it’s not the size of the man in the fight, but the fight in the man, or in this case the monster.
And today the little demons in the original don’t seem that scary at all, so perhaps the new little creatures are an improvement.
Both Variety and Hollywood Reporter felt the film was pretty scary until the monsters showed up, and actually the monsters look fairly scary in the ads, almost like little mutant bats. And Moviefone ran a blog post about monsters that are “too small to be scary,” like Chuckie from Child’s Play (who said he was supposed to be scary?), gremlins, and the Leprechaun from, you guessed it, Leprechaun, which really isn’t meant to be that scary.
The article of course doesn’t mention Talky Tina from the Twilight Zone (that sweet little voice saying, “my name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you,” always gives me the creeps); those terrible little ear-wig things from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (not to mention the icky ear wig story in the episode of Night Gallery that left a ton of eggs in the guy’s head); the posse of tarantulas in Kingdom of the Spiders; the gang of piranhas in the original Piranha (which aren’t that scary either), or the urban legends of the gremlins that took down airplanes.
To quote Yoda, when it comes to being scary and deadly, size matters not.