Dark Places (1974)

Directed by: Don Sharp

Written by: Ed Brennan & Joseph Van Winkle


Robert Hardy .... Edward / Andrew
Christopher Lee .... Dr. Mandeville
Joan Collins .... Sarah Mandeville
Herbert Lom .... Prescott
Jane Birkin .... Alta
Jean Marsh .... Victoria

Release Date: Theatrical: May, 1974

*Images courtesy at ca.movieposter.com




After a sick man dies in his mansion in Marr Grove, two greedy people named Edward (Robert Hardy) and Sarah (Joan Collins) plan to find his hidden stolen money hidden in the mansion trying to get rid of one another but the mansion is haunted and tries to chase Edward away almost driving him mad but he refuses to be chased away by these spirits as he is convinced to get his hands on the stolen money even if he has to tear open the place in order to find it.
He is hearing strange sounds of children laughing in the mansion which puts him in a trance with what has happened there a long time before as the mansion tries to possess him as he goes insane to a ghost of a lunatic named Andrew who killed his entire family and ends up killing the people entering the mansion.

There's alot of slow moments in the story in which made me think to myself to get to the point as I felt like falling asleep. We have certain moments surrounding the title character Edward with suggestive moments that were supposed to be haunting like him staring at a picture that resembles him or spotting broken dolls in an attic but this doesn't look suspenseful as it was intended to be. Plus there's power outages which gets him in a rage refusing to be chased out of his home which fails to seem intense as well.
However we do hear children giggling as we spot him to find out where it's coming from as you think the horror will kick in here for suggestive hauntings but it fails a bit when he opens the door to a room only to be hallucinating as the character Andrew from centuries ago but some of the flashbacks on this person works in nicely while we keep watching throughout the story.
There's the odd scene's between Edward and Sarah with her approaching him as well as some suggestive charming moments and the odd romance which blends in nicely into the story. Things look fairly strong with these moments happening and nicely dramatic too.
More interesting moments between Sarah and
Dr. Mandeville having a heated discussion on trying to get the mansion and figuring a way to blackmail Edward adding a perfect touch to the story as well as some of their nasty comments towards one another as this was well focused too.
Nicely focused shots on Edward picking up a pic axe and following strange looking footsteps leading to another entrance of the mansion in which we spot more flashback sequences where he's hallucinating. Also a perfect near jumping moment through a hole in the wall with bats flying around and swarming around him but the bats looked obviously fake due to the film's lack of budget.
A perfect hallucination sequence is between Andrew and his wife Victoria acting crazy throwing stuff from a tab le and losing it towards him as this looked strongly done and powerfully intense while we keep watching this scene.
Also another effective moment when Edward is going for a stroll with the others and we hear shaky sounds while they're communicating which works well into the story. Cheesy but in a good way. Plus a good hallucination moment when Edward is once again possessed by Andrew and trying to get physical with two evil brats in the story and later on realising that they are innocent children when he is back to being Edrward as this for sure looked nicely done.
Nicely done scenraio with Andrew strangling Victoria when she tries to act insanely lustful and crazy along with evil moments on the two little kids again. Plus a good shot on a dead body in bed which works in well for the story.
Pedrfect situation with a camera shot on Andrew swinging his blade which he's supposed to slaughter to two children which gives you a horrifying feeling.
Nice moments with Edward getting cold and silent while slowly walking towards Prescott about to move in for the kill which is a good traditional moment used in most old fashioned horror films such as this one.
Bottom line is that at first this film seems a little too hokey and not at all scary. Well, it's not really scary but what do you expect from a horror film rated PG? It's very slow as mentioned but has the odd interesting twists used into the story and it comes across as mysterious. But not the kind of film to watch if you're in the mood to be horrified.

The acting is very good shape with a known British cast but only a few stood out and worth mentioning at the same time. The actor who stands out the most is the lead character actor Robert Hardy (Edward / Andrew) as he brings alot of wit to his role. Does a nice job getting aggressive as well as acting crazy whenever he has to do so in the scene's that we see him in. Plus does nice with his charming and romantic side. Does well with his blocking too like when he picks up a pic axe and ready to be deadly about his deeds. Also shows a good expressionless moment when about to go in for the kill. He also shows a nice versatality when he is in the flashback segments especially a moment when he strangles someone which he shows an okay force within this.
Joan Collins (Sarah Mandeville) also does incredibly well playing a deceivingly wicked one. She seems quite sharp with her words and presence. Also does a nice job when getting aggressive or acting disturbed on a situation. Adds nice tense moments too. She really gets into her mode while acting lustful or romantic. She also reacts well when getting strangled.
Cult horror icon Christopher Lee (Dr. Mandeville) is the next best one who stands out as another wicked person with his perfect sterness as well as a good serious motive. Is great with his vulgar attitude too and acts very strong with his personality. Also does a nice job when he is in shock and upset while discovering a dead corpse which he drew in quite well. He was perfect for this role in every way.
Jean Marsh (Victoria) is one of the best performers throughout this film. She was terrific at acting crazy, obsessive and forcefully lustful. Brings everything to a punch with her intense blocking especially during a dining room scene and how she comes across onto the camera. This would be a great role for New York supporting character actress Sylvia Miles. But of course this woman can outdo her any day.

A man is stabbed in the chest with a pick axe
A woman is stabbed in the chest with a machette (Neither of these are bloody)

The music composed by Wilfred Josephs is talently done but it doesn't suit the film too much and doesn't have creepy tones at all which was a downer. There's alot of strong clarinet playing as well as flute music and certain heavy drumming and trombone music too having that clear unique classical score. Certain spots sound not too badly done for certain suspenseful scene's. Other areas just doesn't fit in at all.

Jessica: Daddy (Andrew turns around after he kills his wife and stares at his children) You don't have to go away now
Francis: We can stay together always.