Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tales from the Darkside Christmas Trilogy Part 1: Monsters in my Closet

Tales from the Darkside may not have the pop culture cache or star power that Tales from the Crypt flaunted but it had low budget heart. Like it's more popular competition, it also spawned plenty of lame duck episodes. When it got its shit together though the result was some outstanding TV.
With Christmas starring us right in the eye, let's take a trip to a place that is “just as real, but not as brightly lit” for some yule tide misery.
Monsters in my closet stars a creepy young Seth Green as Timmy. Tim's a pretty standard weeny. He collects stuffed animals, doesn't have many friends, and lets mommy sing him to sleep at night. He's fine with who he is but his step-dad sure aint. Biff is a full time nutsack. Every second with him is about beer, football, guns, and old sea chanteys. And we all now nothing says manly like musically inclined sailors. Biff only has one discernible goal in life, to man that boy up.

At the start, the gab between Timmy and Biff isn't too much of a problem. They have at least one awkward conversation per day while the mom continues to tell each of them to give the other a chance. Frankly I don't understand Biffs' persistence. Couldn't he just give the cold shoulder like any emotionally abusive step-father?

Things really start to get out of hand on Christmas. Biff gives Timmy a toy machine-gun which the kid feigns just enough interest in it until mommy gives him this giant stuffed Panda of his dreams. Normally, I wouldn't judge the kid as I once saved up thirty clams for a stuffed tiger that totally kicked ass. However; Timmy's panda is scary as all fuck!
It's about this time that various monsters we've only briefly glimpsed before decide to go after the poor kid. His collection if tormenters include a troll guy that lives in the closet, an octopus under the bed, and a buzzsaw. Now let's make it perfectly clear that I don't mean some kind of chopping mall style killer robot, it's just a big round saw blade that rolls across the kid's room at full rotation. These creatures send Timmy into a tizzy that naturally makes his step-dad act like an even bigger dick.
Eventually Timmy overcomes his fear of the monsters since, let's face it, they're not as bad as the drunk guy who bitches about him every night. We've got some symbolism going here folks and we're about to add to it. After getting in a fight with Biff where the kid tells the old man how him and his mom are strong and Biff's a weakling, the kid proceeds tell those spooks what's what. All that yelling leaves him in need of a trip to the thunderbucket where he encounters a new one in the guise of a witch. His resolve suddenly lost, Timmy tries to go to the other bathroom which Biff isn't having. The guy follows Tim back to his room for a good old fashioned whooping. He never gets to strike the kid as the witch and her minions descend on the poor bastard.
Biff's death is blamed on a heart attack no matter how much Timmy tells everyone that the monsters did it. The last shot is him being sent to his room which now has a sign warning of monsters.

This isn't one of those stories that really has much to do with Christmas, but it benefits from taking place during that time. Like many other Darkside tales, there's a lot of stuff that could be built on. Like what the hell happens next? Will the monsters come back for Timmy? Are they now his servants who dispose of anyone that displeases him? Where they real, or some psychic projection? You can't deny how the timing of the witch appearing after Tim defends his mother. That's part of the charm to these shows though, you're not meant to fully understand so much as piece things together and maybe even create your own wrap up. I like to think of Timmy entering high school in command of a secret army of night terrors.

Tomorrow we're moving onto season three to meet a fine fellow called the Grither. See you then.

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