Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tales from the Darkside: The Geezenstacks

In revisiting Tales from the Darkside, I was most interested in checking out "The Geezenstacks" for two reasons: 1) I have no memory of ever seeing it before and 2) various writeups described it as one of the more frightening episodes in the series.

Craig Wasson plays Sam Hummel, whose daughter Audrey receives an antique dollhouse from her Uncle Frank that contains four dolls. Audrey says they are the Geezenstacks, and they share the same first names of the Hummels.

Sam grows worried when events that happen to the Geezenstacks soon afterward happen to the corresponding family member of the Hummels. For example, Audrey says Mrs. Geezenstack bought a new coat with a specific design, and minutes later, Audrey's mother Edith arrives home and shows off the coat she just bought on a whim, exactly as described by Audrey. And when Audrey says something bad happens to Mr. Geezenstack...

I liked "The Geezenstacks." The dolls themselves are creepy without being over the top, and the episode wisely takes it's time developing Sam's suspicions without beating us over the head with them, so it doesn't feel rushed or incomplete. It builds an ominous atmosphere of paranoia and uncertainty while balancing childish innocence with adult fear, and thankfully, it eschews the usual one-dimensional stereotypes that usually define the series' characters.

The episode's conclusion, I admit, has a chilling effect. I won't spoil it, but it's very effective and resolves the story on an appropriately nightmarish tone. I thought for sure the dolls would come alive and start chasing people, but the final development is much more original and memorable.

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