Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darkroom (1981, Episode 5)

This post is 3rd in a series describing the episodes of the 1981 anthology horror series Darkroom. Previous installments found here and here.

SPOILER ALERT! Episode summaries to follow!
EPISODE 5 - The Partnership / Daisies / Catnip

Episode 5 is the first of two episodes containing three segments instead of the usual two. The first story, "The Partnership", is one of my favorites.

Not that there's anything particularly unique (or even original) about this simple little story, but it worked for me as a kid and still does today. Based on a story by William F. Nolan, (whose screenwriting credits include Trilogy of Terror and Burnt Offerings), "The Partnership" centers on local chatterbox Tad Miller (Pat Buttram) who strikes up a conversation with a drifter, played by David Carradine, at a roadside diner.

Tad volunteers his life story to the uninterested Carradine, who is just trying to find a ride to the next town. Seems that, among other things, Tad used to operate the local lakeside amusement park, Happyland, which has been closed and shuttered for years. This sparks the drifter's interest. Tad convinces him to go on an after-hours exploration of the ruined amusement park, dangling the promise of giving him a ride out of town if he agrees.

Happyland is a dilapidated wreck of a fun park, boarded up and covered in cobwebs. Tad leads Carradine by lantern light into the old funhouse.

When Carradine cuts himself on a nail, Tad is a little too eager to run back to the truck to fetch a bandage, leaving Carradine alone in the spooky hall of mirrors.

But Tad isn't detouring to his truck, but to a secret control room, where he triggers a trapdoor that sends Carradine down a chute and through the floor, dropping him into the lake below.

A tentacled sea-creature with two glowing eyes closes in on Carradine as he splashes helplessly in the dark water.

Seems "the partnership" of the title is an arrangement between Tad and the creature. The creature crushes its prey with its tentacles and deposits the corpse on the shore, where Tad loots the corpse of any valuables before turning it over to be eaten by the beast.

The next segment, "Daisies", is only a few minutes long.

A scientist is studying the ability of plants to communicate via electronic impulses. He gives his visiting wife a headset and special microphone to allow her to listen to the flowers in his lab.

The flowers immediately rat out the husband, who has been cheating on her with his lab assistant. She pulls a revolver and murders them both on the spot.

The final segment, "Catnip", is based on a story by Robert Bloch.

Ronny, a veteran turned street thug, crosses paths with a black cat that belongs to a neighborhood witch.

After a few run-ins with the cat and being scolded by the witch, Ronny decides to take revenge by rigging a small explosive to its pet-door.

But the explosive unintentionally kills the witch instead.

The cat starts showing up everywhere Ronny goes, finally following him to his home, where it leaps through the bedroom window and hides under the bed.

In one of the creepiest moments of the series, Ronny peeks under the bed to look for the cat...

...only to be confronted with the twisting, hissing head of the witch!

Not so tough now, are we Ronny?

The final two episodes will be detailed in next post.


Amanda By Night said...

I love this show. Catnip is actually quite good. Plus I just love Cavanaugh from Porky's! :)

Mr Bloody Mojo said...

This episode is the most memorable one to me. I have a vague recollection of the others though. I remember waiting for this show to come on back then, I was about 10 at the time. Surprises me how scary I thought this was at that age. Check Youtube now, someone has gone and uploaded all of the episodes there. I've been looking for this series online forever, it's never left my mind since it aired. I have some other memories of anthology shows I saw during that era, that I had always assumed were on Darkroom as they weren't on some of the more popular series which are similar, but apparently they were not.