Now that said original has been reissued, coattail-ridin style, by Warner Archive, Id alter that response to, I liked it OK, but I definitely still prefer the original.
With much fewer resources, the 1973 version is far more effective. The person being menaced by the trolls in the walls has always been Sally, but here, shes an adult (Kim Darby, True Grit), married to an on-the-rise workaholic (Jim Hutton, TVs Ellery Queen). No sooner have they moved in to a spooky, old mansion where its always stormy outside, when the demons in the cellar start whispering her name and crying, We want you! We want you!
Soon, theyre pulling at her dress, interrupting a dinner party, switching off the lights while she showers the original put forth many a beat and scenario the remake Xeroxes, but with less panache. No one believes poor Sally, naturally at least anyone who lives to tell it. Darby plays Sally as if shes a bit off, mentally, even before the lil creatures appear; it just makes you wonder.
What are CGI creations today were people in suits back then. To render them small, they were shot on oversized sets. As primitive an effect as that is, it worked, and their faces are far more frightening than anything conjured by computer, because you can tell they are real.
That a film nearly 40 years older than its remake is the superior shocker isnt a shock at all. That this was made for TV is, provided you didnt already know. Prime-time TV used to make some genuinely scary movies, and this ranks right up there with 1981s Dark Night of the Scarecrow as one of the all-time creepiest.
Warner Archives new edition contains a commentary with three fans, two-thirds of whom werent particularly worth inviting. Its less like listening to a track that informs and enlightens, and more like listening to a couple of jerks in the next row who wont shut up. Rod Lott