Of the Heart and the Home – Dark Places (1974)

Greed, as deadly a sin as any other, always seems to lead people down the wrong road and that is what happens in Dark Places as a number of people give in to their baser desires no matter the cost. For Robert Hardy, who takes on a double role in this movie, it leads to madness and murder.

The film concerns an old man who passes away, leaving his property to Edward, a man who works at the sanitarium and whose patient was the old man. It is a dubious claim and yet, there is nobody that can dispute it and so Edward comes to inherit a very large house on a property that is supposed to be haunted and one from which the locals stay far away as it is said the ghosts of its previous tenants still roam. Also inside the house is over two hundred thousand dollars that went missing at the time of the murders and Edward, who has learned of it, means to find it. So does the administrator of the house, as does the local doctor and the doctor’s sister and they also mean to get that money now that it is finally in sight after all the years it was not.

Though Hardy might take the lead and do quite well with it, the film also manages to fill out its cast with a number of notable names like Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Herbert Lom and Jane Birkin. All of them play their characters well and they keep viewers glued to the screen which is a plus as the entire affair is a little dry. The story itself is a decent and familiar one but there was simply not enough to keep the various players busy throughout and it is only their performances that really make it as good as it is. There was a fair amount of suspense at times as director Don Sharp would introduce those moments of horror within the house but when those times were over, the film would wind down to a leisurely pace that needed something to liven it up. In addition, having a low budget did not work against the picture in the slightest as it sometimes does in certain movies but here, it helped the proceedings to give it a more realistic feel and enhance what moments of fear there were.

When one looks back on the film after having watched it, it ends up not being as memorable as one might have thought it would be, especially given the cast that would star within. The story itself was a familiar one and when it was all said and done, there was not as much horror as one would have liked and what there was did not end up being particularly scary as it was spooky and disturbing. It is a little bit of a shame that there could not have been a little more to it but at the end of the day, it was entertaining.

3 out of 5

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