Friday, February 13, 2009

Darkroom (1981, Episodes 3-4)

This post is 2nd in a series describing the episodes of the 1981 anthology horror show Darkroom. (Previous post here).

SPOILER ALERT! Episode summaries to follow!
EPISODE 3 - Needlepoint / Seige of 31 August

In the short segment "Needlepoint", Esther Rolle plays a practioner of voodoo who uses a voodoo doll on a young man (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) whom she blames for her granddaughter's death.

The man strangles her to death, but fails to recover the doll as he flees into the swampland. The woman's dog rips the doll apart, causing the man to contort on the ground in pain, before finally burying the doll like an old bone.

Host James Coburn explains that the man was found asphyxiated, but authorities could find no explanation as to how.

In the second story, "Seige of 31 August", Neil (Ronny Cox) finds himself haunted by memories of his service in Vietnam after buying his son Ben a set of toy soldiers. Neil becomes more withdrawn and paranoid when his son begins talking about the toy soldiers as if they were real people, and strange things begin happening around the farm.

Neil hears strange noises at night, and a mysterious brush fire breaks out near the place where Ben left the soldiers. Convinced he's heard something in the barn, Neil has a full breakdown, dons his old military fatigues, and confronts the now living miniature soldiers in combat.

The special effects in this grand finale, seemingly a combination of optical composites and forced perspective, are quite good. Neil dies in battle, engulfed by a fire.

EPISODE 4 - A Quiet Funeral / Make-Up

In "A Quiet Funeral", based on a short story by Robert Bloch, Marty Vetch, a mobster, double-crosses a cohort, Charlie, by running him off the road, stealing his satchel containing $50,000, and leaving him for dead.

But the joke is on Marty when he tries to attend the funeral in a phony show of sympathy and is attacked by Charlie, who wasn't dead after all.

In "Make-Up", a young Billy Crystal plays Paddy, a down-on-his-luck loser who falls out of favor with Mr. Roland, a mobster (Brian Dennehey) who owes him $100 for a delivery job. But Paddy's luck changes when he purchases an old make-up kit that once belonged to 1930s actor Lamont Tremain, "The Man of A Hundred Faces".

Applying the make-up causes Paddy to take on the appearance and personality of Tremain's film characters. Make-up from the film "Revenge of the Colossus" transforms Paddy into an imposing tough-guy. In this persona, Paddy confronts Mr. Roland to get the money he's owed.

Next he applies make-up from the film "Dane Fortune", wherein Paddy becomes a suave international gambler who promptly wins thousands of dollars from Roland in a poker game.

When Roland's goons show up at his apartment seeking revenge, Paddy escapes by applying a final make-up from a film called "Mr. Invisible".

Paddy disappears entirely, his position betrayed only by the make-up case he's carrying as it hovers down the street.

Remaining episodes will be detailed in a later post.

1 comment:

Gutez said...

Thank you for your posting! I enjoyed reading and reliving shows of the past! I was an avid viewer of this show even though it was short lived. It was at a time when I would seek out every prime time network show primarily Friday nights that broadcasted horror/sci-fi themed TV shows or movies like The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby or The Powers of Matthew Starr with Louis Gossett, Jr. Feel free to contact me as one who still remembers these shows that have had some sort of impact or influence on my life.