On The Darkside

The 80's Horror Preservation Society meets for fun and games. (Credit to Mayne, obviously, since I couldn't do art this nice in a billion years)

The 80’s Horror Preservation Society meets for fun and games. (Credit to Mayne, obviously, since I couldn’t do art this nice in a billion years)

The decade of excess found many ways to frighten its young and old denizens through its extremely popular horror franchises.  Freddy Krueger was the terror of Elm Street with flashback fridaythe razor sharp glove and the bad fashion sense.  Jason Vorhees stalked Crystal Lake with his butcher’s knife and old school hockey mask.  There was Michael Myers, Leatherneck, Pinhead, Chucky… it was a great time to be a horrormeister!  And the public just couldn’t get enough of it, as these slasher franchises were milked for so many sequels, that they not only jumped multiple sharks, but continued to serve up sliced and diced fin well into the 1990’s.

This would be absolutely adorable on your mantel!

This would be absolutely adorable on your mantel!

But popular as they were, these Hollywood generated scarefests were largely campy and goofy, particularly once the sequels started rolling around.  When your appointed slasher is reeling off corny jokes and bad puns while he’s severing your jugular vein, that’s not true horror…. certainly not the kind that makes you want to run out and buy a Rainbow Donkey nightlight, not that you wouldn’t want to anyway!

Yes, you know you want one...

Yes, you know you want one…

The 80’s did, however, manage to produce a true masterpiece of terror.  A short, one minute weekly production that was guaranteed to conjure up goosebumps, especially if you were watching it late at night, and is seriously one of the most bone-chillingly terrifying works of genius ever created… and if you have the heart to click play, you can view it again as this week’s Flashback Friday honoree is the super-creepy introduction to the short-lived, but ever popular anthology series, “Tales From the Darkside”….

There’s no grotesque makeup or costumes, not a drop of blood to be found, no naive teenagers waiting to be preyed upon, none of the things we associate with Hollywood horror.  Just a stream of innocent, countryside images that we might see in a starving artist painting.  What makes this intro stir up fear on a primal level, however, is blending those ordinary everyday scenes with a spine-tingling musical score and the forboding narration.  The show’s theme, composed by Donald Rubinstein, is nothing short of eerie.  And just when it grabs you enough that you get this overwhelming feeling that you’re being stalked by something, in comes the voice of Paul Sparer, who puts even Vincent Price to shame in his ability to conjure up a sheer sense of terror through his slow, but powerful monologue.  The intro climaxes with the scenery flipping to reveal the “darkside”, in perfect timing with the narration, and the final pastoral scene is darkened using the very best of 80’s cheesy special effects at the time, and the title card for the series (there were two, the video I linked to shows the later “bloody looking” version) comes into view as the music hits a crescendo in terror.  And if that wasn’t enough for you, then a door opens up in the middle of the screen to reveal the start of the episode…

Not that the concept of doors in the middle of nowhere was all that foreign to us back then...

Not that the concept of doors in the middle of nowhere was all that foreign to us back then…

The intro to this show was so kickass in its ability to frighten the living shit out of you, that I can barely remember any of the actual episodes of the show, even though I know I saw plenty of them back in the day.  Tales From the Darkside only ran for four seasons in syndication, and it hasn’t quite taken on the cult status of some of its inspirations like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, but it has certainly earned a spot in the Hall of Fame of Horror just on the strength of its opening sequence alone.  I dare anyone to say they can watch that intro even now, even in the middle of the day, and not get at feel at least a chill or two.  Only a sociopath could possibly not shudder in the face of such a brilliant work of frightfulness.

Sorry, it didn't move me.  Now excuse me while I go change my pants...

Sorry, it didn’t move me. Now excuse me while I go change my pants…

We all need a good scare every now and then, and we here at The Nest would like to salute the masterminds who created the Tales From the Darkside intro for giving us a weekly dose of uneasiness back in the mid 80’s.  After writing this post, we would also like to order up a whole case of those Rainbow Donkey nightlights….. MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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14 Responses to On The Darkside

  1. merbear74 says:

    I think I just crapped my pantaloons…that intro gave me the fucking shivers….

  2. merbear74 says:


  3. PigLove says:

    Oh I love this! Mom watched all of these growing up. Throw in a mixture of some Vincent Price and his eerie voice and there you go – the entire kitty kaboodle – snort. I do watch them with mom from time to time… under the blankets… with one eye closed… you know the typical way to watch a good scary movie – 🙂 XOXO – Bacon

  4. Lynda says:

    I never liked the hacker/slasher films much. Although I did like Jamie Lee Curtis’ *movie debut in Halloween. 😉

    For me, the old films were best. The ones that made you jump, or where all the scary stuff was in your mind! An excellent example would be the original “The Haunting” or, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” and let’s not forget “Psycho!”

    There was one I can’t remember the title of, in which the victims were in a mansion on a sea cliff, and the glass in the place was haunted… if you got too close you ended up as a reflection in it! I couldn’t turn my back to any large window in the dark for a very.. long… time…

    The modern horror flicks I like would be, Silence of the Lambs, Misery, The Sixth Sense, and last but not least Alien which I actually didn’t “like” but it DID scare the $#!+ out of me… just too much tension in that one and no down time or comic relief at all.

    Well, you certainly got me to “Jabber Away” on that one! 😉

    *(I could be wrong about that movie debut part…)

    • I wasn’t much of a horror fan, but got enough secondhand exposure through my Mom to get the crap scared out of me as a kid. I think you are right about Curtis. Glad I picked a good topic for you to jabber away on! 🙂

  5. C.K. Hope says:

    Slasher movies never bothered me. Freddy however terrified me. After watching the first Elm Street movie I didn’t sleep for weeks. And yes, Tales From the Darkside, now that intro was always terrifying. I haven’t heard it since I was a kid but it’s still terrifying!

    • I had no problem being in the dark along until that damn Freddy Krueger! It literally took me until I was in my early 20’s to shake that fear as well. I’ve found a couple of old Darkside episodes on YouTube and watched them since I made this post, and that show was scarier than I remember it… at least in the cheap horror sense of a lot of 80’s films of that genre. The intro was still the scariest part, though!

      • C.K. Hope says:

        I only saw the first two Freddy movies, after that my Mommy banned me (I was 12 or 13 when the first one came out) from ever watching Elm Street movies. She got tired of me screaming in the middle of the night I guess lol. My husband handed me ALL the Elm Street movies about three ago telling me watching them now would be less scary then when I was 12. And there the DVDs still sit,untouched, unwatched. I can’t even look at the cases without hearing “One, two freddy’s coming for you …” I’ll have to check out Darkside on youtube, I remember the intro but not a single episode! I’ll just grab my Teddybear and a flashlight first!

  6. gentlestitches says:

    I am such a scary movie coward I never saw even one Freddy movie. He scares me without even doing anything! I suppose The Dark Side is on youtube or somewhere. Perhaps I will have a peek. Love the night light!

    • Yes, I found some old full episodes on YouTube last night and watched them! You are wise to avoid Freddy, not even a Rainbow Donkey nightlight is gonna save you there! Now that I’m home and have access to my Photoshop again, I should see if I can get the colors in that picture to glow like I wanted to have…

  7. fransiweinstein says:

    The Republicans do it for me now 🙂

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