Steven Spielberg’s lost film SOMETHING EVIL

Published December 24, 2011

As I have stated elsewhere on this site, I have a passion for the works of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg.  More than any other storytellers, these two gentlemen have not only provided me with thousands of hours of entertainment, but greatly influenced my own writing and kept me sane during a youth spent around crazy people (… some of whom could have stepped out of a King novel).

While I have probably written more about King here (the man does have his own category), this post deals with Spielberg, and one of his lost works.

As I write this, on Christmas Eve 2011, Spielberg has two movies coming out to theaters: War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin.

After directing the acclaimed TV movie DUEL in 1971 – a thriller which put Spielberg on the map – the man worked a bit more in television before making his theatrical debut with The Sugarland Express in 1973, and, of course, JAWS in 1975.  But what of that TV work?  Spielberg made two more TV films during this period, Something Evil and Savage, neither of which have ever received any kind of home video release.

After wondering about these films for years, I recently watched Something Evil (1972) on YouTube, and I must say I was pretty impressed.  No, it is not as good as DUEL, but it is better than most of the offal that is passed off as telefilms.  The movie stars Sandy Dennis and Darren McGavin as a couple who buy a Pennsylvania farmhouse, and soon discover that the house is haunted by either ghosts, or demons, or … well … something evil.  Johnny Whitaker (Jody from Family Affair) plays their son (ironically named Stevie), who may or may not be influenced by these forces.

For a looooow-budget telefilm made in ‘72, this thing still packs a little wallop.  Especially considering that it was made before The Exorcist.  Also on display here are many deft Spielbergian touches – including a shot of Sandy Dennis (quite good here) as she stares through her kitchen window, and we see what she is staring at reflected in the glass.  Spielberg has used this shot quite a few times in his films, but this could be the first.  A decade later, Spielberg would expand on this story with Poltergeist.

So, in fine, rather than wax cinematic on what this all means, I will simply let you watch the film yourself.  It is posted below.  You didn’t think I was gonna write about this and not embed the thing, did ya?  Take a look – it only runs about 73 minutes – and let me know what you think in the comments section when you’re done.