Tales from the Darkside was a horror anthology television series. The show debuted in 1983 and lasted for four seasons and even sparked a major movie in 1990, starring Deborah Harry and Christian Slater. Tales from the Darkside was succeeded by Monsters in 1988, a similar horror anthology TV show.
George Romero, of Night of the Living Dead fame, was one of the show’s executive producers and his style and imagination was a big influence on the series. In fact, the show was inspired by the success of the Creepshow horror anthology movie.
Tales from the Darkside made a lasting impression on many children in the 80’s with images of monsters under the bed, gigantic demon hands, man-eating vacuum cleaners and other bizarre creatures of the night. Watching an episode, you never knew what to expect. Some episodes were corny and strange but some were very, very creepy.
Most people were creeped out by the opening narration that set the tone for each episode: “Man lives in the sunlit world of what 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 dark side.”
Each episode would end with a closing narration: “The dark side is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.”
The scariest episodes:
Trick or Treat – The pilot episode of Tales From The Darkside concerns an old miser who believes he has never in his life received anything for free. He has the entire struggling valley community wrapped around his finger, thanks to a collection of IOUs. Each Halloween he invites the valley children to search his house where he has hidden the bundle of IOUs, and the child who can find it will have his or her family debt wiped away. Though as part of the search each child must face a series of fabricated frights. Directed by Tom Savini.
Inside The Closet – A pretty female graduate student rents a room from a veterinary scientist. The scientist says the room once belonged to his daughter. When she moves in, the girl finds a tiny locked closet in the room. At night, she hears scratching sounds coming from inside the locked closet. She assumes that it is a rat. She complains to the scientist, but he just ignores her fears. The noises get worse and worse and eventually, she manages to break open the closet and finds it empty. She leaves a rat trap in the closet but, the next morning, she discovers the closet is now miraculously stuffed to the brim with the toys and clothing of a little girl.
The Cutty Black Sow – A boy is warned by his dying great-grandmother about an ancient Irish demon called “The Cutty Black Sow” that appears in the form of a female pig with glowing eyes and steals the souls of people who die on Halloween night.
Seasons of Belief – This special Christmas episode of Tales From The Darkside is the one most fans regard as the best of the series. On Christmas Eve, a young boy and girl are bored and pester their mother and father to tell them a story. Their parents tell a scary story about a fearsome beast known as The Grither. It lives in the North Pole and, whenever it hears it’s name being mentioned, it comes to eat little children. The parents reveal that they just made up the story, but as the front door slams open and a cold wind blows through the house, we realize that maybe it’s not just a story after all…
The Madness Room – A wealthy old man is at home with his young wife Cathy and his business partner. They are playing with a Ouija board and wind up contacting the spirit of the original resident of the house. The spirit tells them that it lives in ‘THEMADNESSROOM’, a secret walled-off room in the house. This room drives anyone who sleeps in it completely insane. The spirit gives them clues about how to find the secret room and eventually, they come across an old key hidden in the fireplace. What will happen when they enter the room?
Monsters in My Room – In this special Christmas episode, an 11-year old boy is afraid to go to bed, because he believes that there are monsters in his room. His mother and his stepfather try to tell him it’s all in his head. The stepfather bullies the young boy and complains that his mother treats him like a baby. The boy is left with no option but to fight the monsters himself. Starring a young Seth Green.
Do Not Open This Box – A meek inventor accidentally receives a package in the mail. It turns out to be a mysterious box with a note that reads: “Don not open this box”. The man is afraid to open it, but his greedy nagging wife opens it and finds it completely empty. Soon, the postman comes back looking for the box and says he will do anything to get it back. When the postman finds that the box is empty, he knows that it will need to be filled again.
Halloween Candy – This special Halloween episode is about an old man who refuses to give candy to kids on Halloween night. Then a goblin shows up on his doorstep and begins to play tricks on him.
A Case of the Stubborns – In a rural southern community, to the annoyance of his daughter and grandson, a stubborn old man refuses to believe that he has died. Starring a young Christian Slater.
Hush – Buddy, a housebound little boy who is a genius inventor, introduces his latest masterpiece to his babysitter: A machine that eats sounds. But the two face danger when the machine quickly spins out of control.
Anniversary Dinner – Before their twenty-fifth anniversary, an elderly couple living on an isolated ranch take in a young runaway. They let her take a hot bath, but why do they keep filling the bath with vegetables and licking their lips?
Answer Me – This odd story follows a second rate British actress who has just moved to New York City seeking work. The apartment she has taken on as a sublet is nice, except the phone next door rings incessantly in the middle of the night, and someone is constantly banging on the walls.
Word Processor of the Gods – A struggling writer inherits a home-made word processor from his dear departed nephew Jonathan, and soon realizes that by typing simple statements he can alter reality. He is faced with the opportunity to change his life by deleting his nagging wife and their absent son. Based on a short story by Stephen King.