Tales From The Darkside

One thing I find myself often doing is googling my favorite television/horror movies from back in the days. There is no denying that the decade of the 80’s is what horror films were made for. A lot of these, now considered historic, pieces of artwork no longer exist, except in the minds of those that keep them neatly tucked away in their brain matter.

In turn, it would only be suitable to add a throwback category

Terror Time has incorporated an addition, Classic Dreads; where the dark minds of our yesteryear’s lay.

Man lives in the sunlit world he believes to be reality, but there is unseen by most an underworld a place that is just as real but not as brightly lit….

A Darkside.

There is something missing from this generation in the horror genre. Anthologies. Not the kind you read or the ones that are only on premium channels, but the ones that you wait for on Saturdays. With the hope and prayer that the latest installment fulfills your desire for dreadfulness.

As all of us kids from the 80’s know, Tales from the Darkside was a prominent television series for the horror genre. The opening is probably what freaked the shit out of me the most. With the haunting tune coupled with a mysterious voiceover accompanying the various scenes everyday life became a bit…dark.  Normal scenes, a nice little lake, beautiful trees, oh and what a nice pond… but somehow coupled with the music it became an area of a hellish nightmare.  Growing up in California, these scenes were all too reoccurring and it horrified me as a child.

The syndicated series ran for a full 4 seasons from September 1984 to July 1988. When the series ended, it was followed by another series Monsters, another favorite of mine. Tales touched on a few types of genres: horror, science fiction, and of course the supernatural.

Although there are numerous stories that I loved, there are a few that hold an icy grip to my heart.

The first one being: Inside the Closet

Dr. Fenner – The Creepy Landlord

We all have closet nightmares. At one point in our lives, our imagination has gone astray, often wondering what and who, could possibly be lurking in the shadows beyond the door.

Gail Aynsley has just rented a room from Dr. Fenner, a veterinarian that is a little bit of a prick and loves to work from home. Literally.

His house is covered with animals that all have undergone taxidermy and he likes to have his privacy. So much that he gives Gail the third floor in his massive home. Some warning signs go off here, big house, only one Fenner?

Of all the rooms that he gives Gail, he picks his daughters room, Margaret, who is away at graduate school. Gail doesn’t mind but her eyes keep on straying to a tiny door in the room. Dr. Fenner says that it is a closet but he has lost the keys to it.

4 Inside The Closet

In the middle of the night, we see Gail tossing and turning. Then the door knob to the closet turns. The next day Gail tells the Dr. that there are rats in the room. He tells her that the only rats in his house are the ones doused in formaldehyde. Gail decides to take matter in her own hands and puts a rat trap in the closet. And what was all this “I lost the key” talk Dr. Fenner?

Gail is going through a variety of highly strange photographs on her slide projector when she hears the rat trap go off. She tries to open the door but finds that it is locked and won’t budge. Later on that night, the closet knob slowly turns and the door opens. We can’t make out what just came out of the closet, but it most certainly isn’t a rat.

Gail wakes up just in time to see the closet starting to close, but she finds it empty. At this point something crawls directly underneath her bed and all we see are bright, glowing eyes of something very un-human like.

Gail is still hell bent that it is just a rat. Even after her rat trap disappears. Dr. Fenner tells her that the closet hasn’t been open in years. They both leave the room and the creature slowly pulls Gail’s box underneath the bed.

Gail returns to her room and finds that the closet is now full of little girl things; dresses and dolls. She puts her hand in the closet and all of a sudden the rat trip goes off on her fingers. She springs away and watches as the closet door closes by itself. By now Gail is adamant on getting back into that closet. But it does not budge.

Dr. Fenner reveals to Gail that it was his late daughter’s room. He then goes off on cancer and how it took the life of his wife which in turn, I assume, left him family less. But Gail is unnerved, she knows that something is not right and that the prickly doctor is keeping something to himself. Later on that night, the closet door opens and Gail has armed herself with a flashlight. She crawls on all fours to the closet and flashes a light inside.

2 Inside The Closet

**Warning: Spoilers Ahead**

A large, hairless, grotesque monster peers back at her; it’s pointy teeth curved upwards somewhat into a smile. She tries to escape but it does a ninja move and they both fly backwards, where he drags her back into the closet. Possibly for consumption.

The next day we hear Dr. Fenner telling Gail’s mom that he has not seen her since the previous night. As he talks on the phone, the creature makes its way slowly down the stairs where he grabs the Dr’s legs and and the dear doc let’s out what sounds like a cry of pain.

The creature affectionately keeps a hold on the doctor’s legs and he picks her up calling her a “pretty little girl” and then tells the creature that he is going to tuck her into bed. The creature moans back affectionately and both freaks make their way back up to what presumably is Gail’s ex-room.

Given that the budget for Tales from the Darkside was extremely meager – I heard about $200.00 a week or something, Michael McDowell (writer) and Director Tom Savini created a piece of work that epitomizes horror. Now remember, this episode is 32 years old, so don’t expect too much from the monster in the ending. But, I feel the story is highly efficient in the tune that it was created to give off a surprise scare. I mean, don’t you ever wonder what is lurking in the closet or under your bed? I sure don’t want a “pretty little girl” there!

The darkside is always there, waiting for us to enter- waiting to enter us.

Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.

I couldn’t think of better words to describe the ending of this episode. Next episode of Tales from the Darkside that I will be touching on is the Pilot: Trick or Treat!

Stay tuned folks!

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