Friday, February 6, 2009

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE FIRST SEASON

Back in the early 80’s, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, the half-hour anthology series, seemed a lot scarier than it does now. Of course, back then, we were watching it late at night on weekends, usually after a hard night’s partying. Or, anyway, I was.

Now, I’m struck by how predictable the stories tend to be and cheap most of the episodes look. That’s not to say the show isn’t worth revisiting. Each episode of this first season of George A. Romero’s (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) seminal horror anthology series features at least one familiar guest star (some of whom were unknowns when the series was originally syndicated), and most episodes are atmospheric and spooky. In fact, the low budget sometimes contributes to the effect. The best episodes tend to be those adapted from previously-existing short stories – Stephen King’s "Word Processor of the Gods" is given a decent adaptation, and Robert Bloch’s "A Case of the Stubborns’ probably makes the season’s best episode – but there are a few other rough gems in there.

CBS/Paramount presents all 24 half-hour episodes of the syndicated series’ first season (1983) on three discs, in their original full-frame format. The transfers are pretty dark and grainy, but that’s due entirely to the fact that the original episodes were shot on cheap 16mm film. There are no extra features provided save for a single-episode commentary by series creator Romero over the first episode, "Trick or Treat." It’s a pretty good commentary though, that explains the origins of the series and a great deal about the making of the show.

If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll want to pick up the set. If you just want to revisit it, you may just want give it a rental.

BUY: Tales from the Darkside: The First Season