Sunday, February 15, 2009

Darkroom (1981, Episodes 6-7)

This post is 4th and final in a series describing the episodes of the 1981 anthology horror series Darkroom. Previous installments found here, here and here.

We're now at the final two episodes, and I'm sad to say, there isn't much to recommend about any of the 5 stories found here. These definitely rank as the worst of the series, and accordingly, they'll receive briefer coverage.

SPOILER ALERT! Episode summaries to follow!
EPISODE 6 - Lost in Translation / Guillotine

In "Lost in Translation", professor of archeology Dr. Paul Hudson hires a translator to help him decode an ancient Egyptian scroll, which turns out to contain a recipe for a magic potion thought to give one power.

But after mixing and drinking the potion, we realize there was a mistake made in the translation as Dr. Hudson shrinks to the size of a mouse.

The second story, "Guillotine", spends a long time building up to a ho-hum "surprise" ending.

In 19th century France, a man sentenced to die by guillotine hopes to exploit a loophole in the law that pardons the condemned should the executioner happen to die on the scheduled day of execution. I won't bore you with every laborous detail (this episode just really seems to drag). The prisoner's lover poisons the executioner, but he summons just enough strength to stagger to the guillotine at the scheduled time, only to drop dead on the platform.

But wait--his dying body actually falls upon the lever that activates the guillotine, so the prisoner is executed after all.

EPISODE 7 - Exit Line / Who's There? / The Rarest of Wines

The first story in the final episode, "Exit Line", is simply awful. An actor who feels he's gotten an unfair review from a critic decides the best way to convince the critic that he really is a good actor is to... are you ready for this? ...sneak into her apartment, cut her phone cord, then threaten her with a gun for 10 minutes or so before taking a bow and revealing that he's only ACTING!!! The shocker ending, such as it were, is that the critic nails him over the head with a heavy crystal bottle before he has a chance to explain himself.

Next up is "Who's There?", which doesn't amount to much, despite the reuniting of actors Grant Goodeve and Dianne Kay, who had just finished a five-year run playing brother and sister on Eight Is Enough.

Here they play lovers Steve and Claire. Steve lives just downstairs from Claire and her husband Barry. While Claire is off visiting her mother, Steve comes upstairs to find Barry waiting in the dark with a pistol. He's convinced Claire is cheating on him and plans to murder her when she gets home. When Steve returns to his apartment, we find Claire is not at her mother's, but in his bed. With the doubt planted in his head, Steve begins to suspect Claire may be cheating on him as well. He sends her back upstairs to her apartment, and waiting doom.

Finally comes "The Rarest of Wines". An obnoxious son is unhappy with his share of his mother's inheritance...the family house and its furnishings. He sells everything he can and spends the money on rare and expensive wines.

While drinking one of the wines, his sister translates the Italian label to discover too late that the wine he is drinking is poisonous.

That wraps up the Darkroom episode summaries. Unfortunately the series has never been available for sale. I would love to see a proper DVD release of this series. In the meantime, bootleg copies can be had if you look under the right rock.

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