Tales from the Darkside—Season 1

tales from the darkside season 1 dvd episode guide
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 3/10

Bad but enjoyable

Bad visuals, cheesy acting, predictable stories


The Darkside is here…don’t let it kill you

Enter another world…a world of darkness in the ordinary world.  Where in one moment, a person’s life can be turned upside down and the horror of nightmares can become real.  The Darkside is waiting and you will never know you’ve entered it until it is too late!

With a pilot episode airing on October 29, 1983 as Trick or Treat, Tales from the Darkside—Season 1 was a syndicated horror/fantasy series airing from September 30, 1984 to August 4, 1985.  The series spun off George A. Romero’s involvement with Creepshow and was meant to tie in to horror comics like EC Comics classics like Tales from the Crypt (which Romero was also involved in later for HBO).


Who is excited for monsters!?! (Don’t get your hopes up)

With The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery as predecessors, I always felt like Tales from the Darkside was a rather low-rent version of other horror anthologies (though I did still watch it).  With shoestring budgets, the episodes, unfortunately, look cheap, and it always killed me how often the stinger twist shot of the story was ruined by the credits over the image.  The quality of the productions are poorly framed and shot in addition to the weak set pieces…only a few episodes jump out visually like the monster from “Inside the Closet”.  The show smartly picked stories where there didn’t need to be a lot of visuals, but that isn’t always great for viewers.

The stories have an odd trend and are very ’80s based.  There are a lot of fears about technology, computers, and advancements in society which generally end up bad or evil.  Even things like answering machines and word processors are menacing in this series and it is rather amusing.  Punks are bad and weird, and yuppie business men always get what’s coming to them.


Clowns are scary…oh wait, these are ironic clowns…never mind

The show is loaded with B-level stars who all made the anthology series rounds in the ’80s (Fantasy Island, Love Boat, Highway to Heaven, etc.).  Stars like Barnard Hughes, Vic Tayback, Keenan Wynn, Bruce Davison, and Ronee Blakely were joined by future stars like Christian Slater and Brent Spiner in “A Case of the Stubborns”.  I remember particularly liking the Bud Cort and Carol Kane episode “Snip, Snip” as a kid, but it doesn’t hold up now.

Tales from the Darkside is one of those shows that looks like the period from which it came and unlike a show like The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Miami Vice, the nostalgia factor isn’t a good one.  I can enjoy the series because of memories of watching the series, but new viewers will find it cheap and predictable.  At least the show still contains one of the best openings and which still gives me chills.

Tales from the Darkside—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“Trick or Treat”

1.0       Trick or Treat Airdate:  10/29/83

A money lender named Gideon Hackles (Barnard Hughes) uses Halloween as a chance to scare the children of the people he lends money to in exchange for an opportunity to erase their debts…but Gideon is about to find out he isn’t the only thing out to scare in the night.  Written by George R. Romero


“The New Man”

1.1       The New Man Airdate:  09/30/84

Alan Coombs (Vic Tayback) is a recovering alcoholic.  When a boy named Jerry (Chris Herbert) shows up and claims to his son, Alan learns his family thinks he’s drinking again.


“I’ll Give You a Million”

1.2       I’ll Give You a Million Airdate:  10/07/84

Duncan Williams (Keenan Wynn) offers to buy the soul of his friend Jack Blaine (George Petrie) for $1,000,000.  When Jack learns that that he is dying, he sets out to get his soul back before he dies.


“Pain Killer”

1.3       Pain Killer Airdate:  10/14/84

Harvey Turman (Lou Jacobi) is plagued by back problems and a nagging wife.  When Doctor Roebuck (Farley Granger) tells Turman that his only cure for his back is the death of his wife, Harvey makes the deal…with consequences.


“The Odds”

1.4       The Odds Airdate:  10/21/84

Tommy Vale (Danny Aiello  ) is a bookie who never turns down a bet.  When he meets a gambler (Tom Noonan) who seems to have a knack for beating the odds, Tommy learns that he might have to bet his life to cover the odds.


“Mookie and Pookie”

1.5       Mookie and Pookie Airdate:  11/04/84

Pookie (Justine Bateman) and her twin brother Mookie (Ron Asher) are close.  When Mookie dies, Pookie must keep her promise to finish his computer program even if her parents (Tippi Hedren and George Sims) don’t understand.



1.6       Slippage Airdate:  11/11/84

Richard Hall (David Patrick Kelly) is a graphic designer who feels like life is passing him by.  As Richard’s frustration grows, he discovers more and more people are forgetting him.


“Inside the Closet”

1.7       Inside the Closet Airdate:  11/21/84

A student named Gail Aynsley (Roberta Weiss) is renting a room from Dr. Fenner (Fritz Weaver) only to find it has a small locked closet.  When Gail begins hearing noises from inside the closet, she’s determined to find what is making them.


“The Word Processor of the Gods”

1.8       The Word Processor of the Gods Airdate:  11/25/84

Richard Hagstrom (Bruce Davison) finds his nephew (Jon Shear) has left him a word processor that he built himself.  When Richard begins working on the word processor, he finds what he writes can come true.  Richard is going to get his dream life, but dreams can come at a cost.  Based on a Stephen King story.


“A Case of the Stubborns”

1.9       A Case of the Stubborns Airdate:  12/02/84

Grandpa Titus Tolliver (Eddie Bracken) is dead…unfortunately, no one has told him that.  As everyone mourns his death, an undead, rotting Grandpa refuses to die…much to the chagrin of his grandson (Christian Slater), his daughter (Barbara Eda-Young), and his minister (Brent Spiner).


“Djinn, No Chaser”

1.10     Djinn, No Chaser Airdate:  01/13/85

The purchase of a cursed genie lamp by Danny (Charles Levin) and Connie (Colleen Camp) leads to a problem that they can’t get rid of…when the genie (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) can’t get out of the bottle.  Based on a Harlan Ellison story.


“All a Clone by the Telephone”

1.11     All a Clone by the Telephone Airdate:  01/20/85

A man named Leon (Harry Anderson) finds that his new answer machine seems to have a mind of his own and that it is ruining his life.


“In the Cards”

1.12     In the Cards Airdate:  01/27/85

A fraud of a Tarot card reader named Catherine (Dorothy Lyman) finds she suddenly has the power of prediction and she can’t stop reading them despite the horror they bring.  When she learns the cards are cursed, Catherine learns she must pass on the curse to another nonbeliever.


“Anniversary Dinner”

1.13     Anniversary Dinner Airdate:  02/03/85

Elinor and Henry Colander (Alice Ghostley and Mario Roccuzzo) are a couple miss their children.  As their twenty-fifth anniversary approaches, a young girl named Sybil (Fredrica Duke) shows up at their doorstep and it could be another chance for a family…and an anniversary dinner to die for!


“Snip, Snip”

1.14     Snip, Snip Airdate:  02/10/85

Abe North (Bud Cort) is a professor who loves numbers and is using his love of the dark arts to win the lottery.  When he is one number off, he vows to hunt down Anne MacColl (Carol Kane) who won the lottery…but   has secrets of her own.


“Answer Me”

1.15     Answer Me Airdate:  02/17/85

An English actress named Joan Matlin (Jean Marsh) is subletting an apartment in New York City when she is plagued by a neighbor’s phone ringing.  Unfortunately, there is no neighbor and the woman who lived there before killed herself…by strangling herself with the telephone cord.


“The Tear Collector”

1.16     The Tear Collector Airdate:  02/24/85

Prudence (Jessica Harper) has cried her whole life.  When she meets Ambrose Cavender (Victor Garber) who is a collector of tears, she finds that her tears might have a purpose.


“The Madness Room”

1.17     The Madness Room Airdate:  05/05/85

Edward Osborne (Stuart Whitman), his young wife Cathy (Therese Pare), and his attorney Michael (Nick Benedict) play with a Ouiji board and learn of a room hidden in the house called “The Madness Room” that has a history of driving people insane.


“If the Shoe Fits…”

1.18     If the Shoe Fits… Airdate:  05/12/85

Politician Bo Gumbs (Dick Shawn) is out to win a campaign.  Stopping in a small town hotel, Gumbs finds himself being turned into a clown and his campaign a three-ring circus.



1.19     Levitation Airdate:  05/19/85

Frank (Brad Cowgill) believes in magic and has sought out his favorite magician Kharma (Joe Turkel) at a travelling circus.  Demanding he preform his wireless levitation trick, Frank learns that he is a fraud…and sets to see the real trick which Kharma might be forced to perform for the audience.


“It All Comes Out in the Wash”

1.20     It All Comes Out in the Wash Airdate:  05/26/85

Businessman Carl Gropper (Vince Edwards) is an evil man.  With he learns a Chinese laundry run by Chow Ting (James Hong), Groper learns that he might be able to wash away his sins…but to never call about his services.


“Bigalow’s Last Smoke”

1.21     Bigalow’s Last Smoke Airdate:  06/09/85

Frank Bigalow (Richard Romanus) is being forced to give up smoking or he can’t leave a constructed cell with Dr. Synapsis (Sam Anderson) as his warden…and the success rate is 100%.


“Grandma’s Last Wish”

1.22     Grandma’s Last Wish Airdate:  06/16/85

Grandma (Jane Connell) is going to the nursing home and has one last wish…leading to pain and suffering for her son (Paul Avery), his wife (Kate McGregor-Stewart), and their daughter (Kelly Wolf).


“The False Prophet”

1.23     The False Prophet Airdate:  08/04/85

Cassie (Ronee Blakely) is on a journey to Texas to meet her true love but tries to only live by her astrological sign.  When she finds a machine called Horace X, Cassie is warned that danger is coming in the form of a false prophet.

Related Links:

Tales from the Darkside—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Darkside—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Darkside—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Darkside:  The Movie (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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