If you were a fan of horror in the 80s or you’re a current fan of marathoning horror shows on Chiller, you’re well aware of the greatness that is “Tales From The Darkside.” The series sprang from the success of George A. Romero’s “Creepshow” and lives as an anthology series in the vein of “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits,” but with more of a focus on horror.
And now it’s coming back at The CW with horror scribe Joe Hill at the helm.
The original series was campy, creepy and sometimes down-right comical (intentionally and unintentionally) with many of the big names in horror stopping by to provide material, including Tom Savini, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Romero himself.
Hill’s presence adds a bit of prestige to the project, being Stephen King’s son and a fantastic writer himself. Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci are also along for the ride, bringing their experience with shows like “Fringe” and “Sleepy Hollow” to the revival. If all goes well, the show will be paired with the revived “Whose Line Is It Anyway” in Summer 2014.
It’s easy to get excited and even easier to get disappointed at the prospect of updated versions to your favorite shows. They’ve done it three times with “The Twilight Zone” with varying results and this will be the second revival of “Tales From The Darkside” following the spiritual successor “Monsters.”
Either way, I thought it would be a proper time to look back at five of the best episodes of “Tales From The Darkside” to get prepared. You are free to disagree of course and I hope you would share your favorites in the comments.
The Milkman Cometh
Bad ass vacuum salesman Robert Forster stars in this tale of a milkman who makes dreams come true with nightmarish consequences. I personally enjoyed Forster as the skeptical husband that leads us into the mysterious world of the milkman that no one ever sees, but everyone trusts with their deepest desires. He waits up and tries to catch the milkman like a child would with Santa Claus, eventually leading to a small reveal of the milkman’s otherworldly nature near the end of the episode (with hands only of course due to the budgetary constraints of television).
It’s the kind of stuff that fills David Icke’s repitilian fueled nightmares and packs a surprise ending that is both clever, being as it concerns the promiscuous milkman of lore, and laughable for the rock bottom special effects being employed. Still, it’s one of my favorites.
Seasons Of Belief
Just in time for the holiday season, it’s blood curdling terror! In this Christmas story, two spoiled children demand a story during the holiday and are treated with the chilling tale of the “Grither.” It’s a monster so foul that it seeks out and murders those who dare speak its name, something that mom and grandpa do numerous times throughout the episode with expected results.
I hate the children in this episode, but I like a good story that teaches a lesson through sheer terror. Think “Arrested Devlopment” and the J. Walter Weatherman lessons. “That’s why you always bring a towel. To sop up all the blood left over when the evil Christmas beast murders your mother and grandfather in front of you.”
You also have to love the hilarious appearance of the “Grither” itself, a pair of disembodied arms blasting through the windows to dole out untimely death upon the family.
In this episode, Larry Manetti of “Magnum P.I.” fame plays a sleazy advertising agent who runs afoul of a voodoo baker that punishes those who cross her by baking magic cookies that can alter lives. I love this episode because everyone is a scum bag, through and through. It’s like “The Departed” in the end where people are crossed and double crossed and Larry ends up getting his head crushed in the shower because his lady love finds a gingerbread cookie sealed with a kiss.
It’s fairly bloody for network television, in a Hitchcock sort of way of course, and features some dark aspects that one wouldn’t attribute to magic baking. For mixing horror and baking together into one episode it get my approval.
The Devil’s Advocate
Jerry Stiller stars as a radio host who realizes that his show is a little strange one evening. He begins to receive calls from all across time and slowly his entire studio changes into a windowless tomb. It is only too late that he realizes the stranger they found dead in the front seat of his car wasn’t a stranger at all and that his abrasive demeanor may have cost him an eternity.
Stiller is great as the loud and cranky “Devil’s Advocate” and really gives you something else to grab onto besides his later roles on “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens.” He would later return for an episode of “Monsters” that was far beneath this entry in quality. This episode is also special because it is the first in the series to be written by George A. Romero.
Well worth the watch. Part two is here.
Probably the scariest episode of the series and also one of the more disgusting. It’s only fitting that Tom Savini would be the mastermind behind this episode that sees a cranky old miser go toe to toe with a demonic Halloween monster.
And it’s a good one to watch because you’re really rooting against this old man from the get go. He’s dismissive of his son, cruel to children seeking trick or treat goodies and is just an overall buzz-kill to be around for thirty minutes. I was happy with how his story ended, but a little less happy with how his son came out looking to the police. Who would know that a malevolent Halloween beast would kill your father and you’d be left on the hook for neglect?
That’s some firm reality bursting into my horror fantasy. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.