Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: The Satanic Piano

You know, "The Satanic Piano" might have worked better if the music this device created sounded better than a cheap 80s synthesizer and the Satanic warlock who built it didn't look like a sweaty, poor-man's Danny DeVito with a blonde skullet.

This episode has a standard selling-your-soul-for-stardom plot spruced up by a sci-fi gimmick and improved by the presence of Lisa Bonet as the sympathetic daughter of the struggling composer. Michael Warren plays Pete Bancroft, a composer who's won Grammys and sold millions of records but is now on hard times while Phil Roth is the perpetually perspiring inventor Wilson Farber who offers him the device that plays the music inside Bancroft's soul.

"The Satanic Piano" works better than expected because Bonet as Bancroft's daughter Justine gives the episode more stakes and a likable presence. If Bancroft were by himself, I wouldn't care what happened to him because he's a jerk, but his daughter represents what he stands to lose. She too composes music, and Farber decides to take her soul instead. When he goes to save her, Bancroft is able to redeem himself.

Music is the language of the soul, or so the old saying goes, and that's a nice sentiment. As a concept for a horror anthology, it just doesn't work. Apparently, the instrument Farber built harvests the person's soul by tapping into the musical wellspring he or she has inside them, but I don't know how that's supposed to work. The music this thing generates isn't very impressive and nowhere near as moving as it needs to be for this concept to work.

It also doesn't help that Roth is about as menacing as a guy selling beer at a football game concession stand. Sure, he's gross and grotty, but he doesn't come off as very intimidating, too dumpy looking. A more charismatic, threatening presence could have elevated this episode.

2 comments:

  1. This episode will always be a masterpiece. The Lisa Bonet music that John Harrison came up with is the most beautiful piano synthesizer music I've ever heard and it makes me cry every time I hear it. Trust me he is a legend and his music made the Romero stuff a whole lot better than what it would've been without it. Tom Salvini did all the visual effects for Romero, but at the end of the Day music this good from the soul believe me will and has made a boring movie about zombies seem interesting and worth watching. The same rule applys here to the Satanic Piano episode the plot is great the characters were adequate, but what really pushes the envelope to soaring heights is the music which can give you goose bumps because it was original and new for it's time.

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