“Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But… there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a Darkside.”
While remembering George Romero and his work, it would be foolish to not reference the show he created, Tales from the Darkside. The show is fondly remembered by horror fans but as someone who owns the complete series, it’s very hit and miss. The most memorable episodes are the ones that stay within the horror genre. There are also ones that are more sci-fi where you can tell the show was attempting to be more like The Twilight Zone. Then there are episodes that are very generic, shot on a shoestring budget and awful.
The best episode to discuss regarding Romero is the pilot episode, Trick or Treat. Not only is this the first episode of the show he created, but Romero also co-wrote it, which gives this show a level of quality the show rarely met again. Compared to the rest of the episodes I’ve viewed, Trick or Treat is perhaps the most creative and original.
The main plot of this episode is very much A Christmas Carol with a Halloween spin. An old miser practically has control of the town he lives in due to the fact everybody owes him money. As if that wasn’t enough, the old man truly gets off on having the town’s children participate in a bizarre game every Halloween where they come into his home and attempt to find hidden IOU slips in order to free their parents from debt, once more George Romero demonstrates a perfect blend of social commentary and horror.
The idea of children having to go through this haunted house attempting to find IOU slips to free their parents from crippling debut is a very deep and fucked up concept that Tales from the Darkside never really achieved again. If the show simply looked at this episode as a guide and continued to be a horror, macabre themed Twilight Zone instead of just becoming a B movie version of The Twilight Zone, it would probably be just as memorable and iconic.
I love how this episode takes place on the most wonderful night of the year. A couple of traditional Halloween creatures make appearances towards the end, giving the episode all the more reason to be a yearly viewing for horror fans on Halloween night.
Trick or Treat is an amazing episode and a wonderful introduction, it’s just a shame Tales from the Darkside rarely ever met this level of quality again.
“The Darkside is always there waiting for us to enter; waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.”