Archive for the ‘Tales From The Darkside’ Category

monsters

In honor of Thankskilling, (er giving) this weekend I’ll be doing things a little differently. Instead of offering the usual bite-sized horror appetizers I’ve been bringing to the sinner table, I’ll be serving a veritable smorgasbord of grizzly treats. A Stake-Out dinner, so to speak. So slap on your barf bags, and prepare to delve into the idiot-box for today’s feast of fears. The items on the menu come courtesy of Chef, Richard P. Rubinstein, one of the masterminds behind Tales From the Darkside. I do hope you’re hungry, because the portion sizes are monstrous.

Monsters, an anthology series that ran from October of 1988 to April of 1991 was a spiritual successor of sorts to Tales From the Darkside, but whereas Darkside often ventured into the realm of science fiction and fantasy, Monsters remained firmly rooted in horror.

Much like its older sibling, many of the stories were written by genre veterans like Stephen King, Robert Bloch, and Michael McDowell, (for those unfamiliar with McDowell, he’s the man responsible for creating the ghost with the most, Beetlejuice). The episodes were generally mean-spirited affairs, with a rotating cast featuring cameos from a slew of now famous actors as well as genre mainstays like Linda Blair, Ashley Laurence, Billy Drago, and Meatloaf. Believe me, there’s nothing quite like watching Tony Shalhoub, Matt Leblanc, David Spade, and Jerry Stiller slumming it before becoming household names.

The bread and butter of the show however were the monsters themselves, putrid grotesqueries ranging from unsettling, (Holly) to completely ludicrous, (Bee-Woman)  but all wonderfully unique, and memorable thanks to the prosthetics, and animatronics common at the time.

There are three seasons worth of episodes, but the ones I’ve selected for today’s post all come from the first, and best in my opinion. Monsters suffered a fate similar to those of its kind like Tales from the Darkside, and Crypt, in that the longer they went on the more they dipped in quality. There are a few diamonds in the rough in the later seasons, such as Stephen King’s The Moving Finger, Talk Nice to Me, and The Farmer’s daughter, but they don’t have quite the lasting effect as the ones I’ve chosen for you today.

That’s enough history, let’s get started, shall we?

                                                                         Holly’s House.

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There’s something inherently creepy about children’s programming, puppets in particular being the worst offenders, especially those that resemble little girls, and are suffering from a killer case of separation anxiety.

Holly’s House follows Katherine, actress and star of a popular kids show who controls a child-sized robot named Holly via a remote control system attached to her central nervous system. Stressed after discovering her costar Mike the Mailman has gotten her pregnant, Holly begins to say awful things to Katherine, and lash out at members of the cast without her control. Is Holly alive? Or is Katherine in the middle of a violent identity crisis?

Holly’s House is an impressive slice of television considering the budget they had to work with. Holly, herself is a technical marvel for the time, and the set of the titular show has a tremendously unsettling quality about it. The storyline also has a surprising amount of depth when compared to other members of the inanimate objects come to life subgenre of horror.

                                                                          Pillow Talk

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This episode is the reason why I adore Monsters. No idea was too bizarre for the show, and Pillow Talk is about as bizarre as they come.

Author Miles Magnus has a secret, his bed is an ancient creature that hungers for human flesh. Viki is Miles’ latest victim, a romance writer, who has a secret of her own.

The monster is a bed, A BED!!!! That’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

                                                                         Mannikins of Horror

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Mannikins of Horror, based on the Robert Bloch short story of the same name follows Dr. Collins, a once brilliant surgeon who now resides in an insane asylum, and spends his time sculpting anatomically correct little clay men with which he shares a special bond.

This is the second time the story has been adapted, the first having been a part of the 1972, Amicus Productions anthology, Asylum.

Watch it for the jaw-dropping stop-motion animation used to bring Dr. Collins’ creations to life, and the gruesome twist ending!

I don’t know about you skiddies, but I’m stuffed! Hopefully you veracious animals saved a bit of room for tomorrow though, because we’ll be moving on to the second course of our thankskilling weekend feast.

Until then killdren, stay scared!!!

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