Tales from the Darkside (1983 series)

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Scene from "The Space Eaters" episode of Monsters, successor to Tales from the Darkside (1983 series)...

Summary

Tales from the Darkside was a horror anthology series which ran from 1983-1988 as a spin-off from Creepshow (1982 franchise); Monsters is its more monster-centric spiritual successor from the same producer, which replaced Tales... from 198-1990. Both series frequently mixed comedic elements in with their low-budget effects with mixed results, and the comedic episodes tend to be regarded as the worst ones.

Details

  • Release Date: 1983-1988 (Tales... series), 1988-1990 (Monsters series)
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Comedy (black humor), Anthology
  • Runtime: (generally formatted for a 30-minute commercial television slot)
  • Starring: (various)
  • Director: (various)
  • Writer: (various)
  • Producer/Production Co: Richard P. Rubinstein, George A. Romero, Laurel Entertainment Inc., Tribune Entertainment,
  • View Trailer: (link), (link)


Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: TV-14 (Violence, mild Profanity and Adult Content, brief Nudity in an episode or two)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Both series are generally not very "Lovecraftian", but do have some obvious origins in pulp horror. See the "Suggested Episodes" list in this article for a mix of some of the more "Lovecraftian" episodes, and some of the more effectively scary ones.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Y.Whateley - "Both Tales from the Darkside and Monsters are generally not very 'Lovecraftian', but do have a couple episodes between them that are exceptions; in general, the the quality and tone of both series are VERY uneven, with Monsters in particular suffering a bit from low-brow humor, and schlocky, low-budget effects, acting, and direction. When either series does work, however, the results are some of the better examples of effective anthology horror episodes to appear on network television.


Synopses and Suggested Episodes

  • Suggested Tales from the Darkside episodes:
    • "Inside the Closet" (Episode 1x07): A college student rents a room from a professor that has a small door from behind which she hears noises at night.
    • "Halloween Candy" (Episode 2x05): A misanthropic old man torments trick-or-treating children and is visited by a terrifying goblin demanding candy. (Considered the scariest episode of the series.)
    • "The Last Car" (Episode 2x19): A young woman on her way home from college rides the last car of a train and discovers bizarre passengers.
    • "The Circus" (Episode 3x01): An investigative journalist who enjoys debunking tales of the strange and bizarre investigates a circus that offers monsters on display. By George A. Romero
    • "The Geezenstacks" (Episode 3x05): A little girl is given a dollhouse by her uncle, who tells her that he found it when the previous owners suddenly abandoned their home, leaving only the dollhouse behind. The girl's father soon notices that whatever happens to the new dolls happens to their family.
    • "Black Widows" (Episode 3x06): On her wedding night, a young woman discovers the reason for her mother's mysterious reclusiveness and a dark family secret.
    • "Beetles" (Episode 4x01): An Egyptologist ignores a sarcophagus's warnings and unearths a curse. By Robert Bloch.
    • "The Yattering and Jack" (Episode 4x07): A demon is sent to corrupt a virtuous man, but if he touches him then he falls under the man's control. Complicating matters, the man refuses to believe the demon exists. By Clive Barker.
    • "The Cutty Black Sow" (Episode 4x14): On Halloween, a boy is warned by his dying great-grandmother about the Cutty Black Sow, a Celtic demon that steals the souls of those who die on All Hallow's Eve, and tries to prevent it from getting hers.
  • Suggested Monsters Episodes:
    • "The Feverman" (Episodes 5x01): A poor farmer with a dying daughter can't afford to pay his doctor for treatment, so he goes to "the Feverman", a local healer who literally fights the illness. The doctor, angry at the farmer's belief in superstition, tries to expose the Feverman as a fraud but not only learns the truth but also that there is a price to pay for faith.
    • "Rouse Him Not" (Episode 5x11): Artist Linda McGuire (Laraine Newman) lives alone in an old house in the country, where she's harassed by local peeping tom Ritzen (Terrence Evans). She's visited by author John Thunston (Alex Cord), who is conducting research on a warlock who used to live in the home. But the house and Thunston are both more than they seem. Based on a Manly Wade Wellman story.
    • "The Mother Instinct" (Episode 5x15): A paraplegic mother (Elizabeth Franz) worries about her daughter, who is married to a physically abusive man. The mother reveals that she has developed a melon whose juice is a miracle drug. The abusive man tries to steal one, but discovers the melons are protected by vicious "Brazilian blood worms."
    • "Jar" (Episode 6x07): A private investigator is looking for a missing woman last seen at a hotel whose guests include a beautiful femme fatale and a man who sells monsters stored in jars. Filmed in a film noir style.
    • "Far Below" (Episode 6x19): A man sent to investigate why a subway maintenance crew is paid so highly gets more than he bargained for. By Debra Hill.
    • "The Hole" (Episode 7x06): American soldiers fighting the Vietnam War discover a network of tunnels under their base containing a horribly wounded guerilla; interrogations reveal that the Vietcong have accidentally dug their tunnels through a ghoul-infested burial ground.
    • "The Waiting Game" (Episode 7x10): After a nuclear war, human survivors are besieged in their bunker by radioactive vampires.
    • "The Space-Eaters" (Episode 7x15): Two pulp fiction writers play chess and debate horror during a fierce thunderstorm by night, when interrupted by a neighbor with a hole in his head and a story about a "thing" that attacked him from out of the night sky. By Frank Belknap Long.
    • "The Moving Finger" (Episode 7x24): A man discovers a long, bony finger poking up out of the drain in his bathroom sink. By Stephen King.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements


Keeper Notes

  • "Inside the Closet" - the investigators track a number of missing girls to a boarding house where the landlord keeps a sinister secret locked behind a tiny door in the attic....
  • "The Black Widows" - bears some minor resemblance to the general theme of stories like "The Shadow Over Innsmouth (fiction)", such that the "Black Widows" might be substituted for the fish-men and ape-men found in typical Lovecraftian stories....
  • "The Jar" - the artifact from the title is believed by some of the yokels to be the remains of some primordial creature, capable of strange, supernatural powers; what if they are right?
  • "Far Below" - a team of investigators are sent by the Massachusetts State government to to research a subway system and investigate some bureaucratic and budgeting paperwork that doesn't add up; what seems at first to be a case of corruption proves to be a much deadlier conspiracy....
  • "The Hole" - a pre-gen squad of American soldiers fighting the Vietnam War discover a network of tunnels under their base containing a horribly wounded guerilla; interrogations reveal that the Vietcong have accidentally dug their tunnels through a ghoul-infested burial ground, and must secure the tunnels before the ghouls can break into their base....
  • "The Waiting Game" - for a Cthulhu End Times one-shot adventure, a team of survivors is besieged in their bomb shelter by radioactive vampires, while a handful of crises inside the shelter makes staying safely within impossible; for example, one of the investigators has Deep One ancestry and is coming of an age where her ancestry can no longer be concealed and she must return to the Sea....