Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tales from the Darkside

"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 darkside."

So intones the narrator during the opening of Tales from the Darkside, as shots of a colorful, pastoral landscape morph into a nightmarish, black-and-white setting, establishing a foreboding tone for what's to follow while an eerie synthesizer plays. Tales from the Darkside was a horror anthology television series created by George Romero, most famous for Night of the Living Dead, that originally ran for four seasons from 1984 to 1988. Developed as a result of the success Romero's 1982 anthology movie Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside was similar to Creepshow in a number of ways: each episode tells its own self-contained story, often contains elements of black comedy, and in the tradition of the E.C. Comics of the 1950s, features a sense of cosmic justice in which the supernatural steps into balance the scales of justice and punish the wicked.

Because this was on television, Tales from the Darkside does not feature the blood and gore of its big screen inspiration, and it is decidedly lower budgeted, unlike a similar horror television series that followed, Tales from the Crypt. The number of characters was limited, only a handful of sets were available, and there aren't many special effects. What the show did have was the works, both original and adapted, from a variety of different horror writers, including Romero himself, Stephen King (Romero's partner-in-crime on Creepshow), Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, and Michael McDowell. Stories revolved around everything from zombies to ghosts, ghouls to monsters, and the Devil turns up a few times.

Some episodes have a sci-fi bend; some have a more comedic bend. Some of the episodes are among the finest horror television ever produced; some are pure drek. As I did with Masters of Horror, I intend to review individual episodes of the series, treating them as their own stand-alone movies, even though they're only about 20 minutes in length. What I hope this does, if it works out well, is begin reviewing other TV shows on this blog in a similar fashion. I'll still do the same kind of write-ups I've been doing, but this is an idea I've been toying with for some time. I hope you'll enjoy it.

"The darkside is always there, waiting for us to enter - waiting to enter us.
Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight."

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