Tales From the Darkside 212: Monsters in my Room

The story begins, as stories about haunted rooms must, with a little boy carefully checking in his closets and under his bed for monsters. There's one twist, though, which we learn about in a flashback.

This little boy is played by some manner of popular television actor Seth Green!

A sensitive, intelligent lad, he's pushed around by his macho stepfather, the kind of lout who'd try to get Seth to play football by tossing one at his back while he's examining a bug in a jar! The icing on the jerk cake? The stepfather's name is 'Biff'!

When it's time for Seth to go to bed, he has an authentic-seeming ritual where he leaves the hallway door open while checking the room for beasts. It's a nice touch, and a good representation of how a child's mind works - imagining that as long as he has an escape route planned out, it won't be so bad if he actually does find a monster in the closet. Seth then kneels down to pray (wow, remember when that used to happen in fiction? Children praying before bed?) and hears his mother and stepfather fighting in the next room. As always, it's about him, and how the stepfather plans to turn him into a 'man' by playing football and the like. The horror!

Unsurprisingly troubled, Seth tries to get some sleep, which is when the monster in the closet reveals itself!


It doesn't have time to do anything scary, though - it quickly retreats when Seth's mother appears at the hallway. Unsurprising, since the beast functions as an externalization of Seth's anxieties, which are comforted away by the presence of his mother. She tries to offer excuses for Biff's loutish behaviour, then sings a lullaby until Seth is ready for sleep.

Or ready to be menaced by the octopus that lives under his bed!

Oh, wait, it doesn't actually do anything. We just skip ahead to Christmas in the next scene. Biff, as usual, ruins everything by getting Seth a toy assault rifle “Just like the one I had in 'Nam”, and then being openly dismayed when mother gives Seth a giant stuffed panda bear.

Although, given how poorly that whole 'toy bear' thing worked out just a couple of episodes ago, I suppose he might be justified in his reservations.

That night (or another night - it's hard to get a timeline, but the bear's in his room), Seth checks his closet for monsters, and while he's scared by a football falling out of it, the fact that he turns keeps him from seeing the genuinely scary thing hiding behind his clothes!

Lot of near-misses on this episode so far, actually. Wait! Spoke too soon - he sees tentacles coming out from under his bed! Unsurprisingly, this is immediately timed to his folks having yet another fight about him in the next room. He tries to sleep, but persistent whispering convinces him that he's not alone in the room. Oh, also the panda manages to rock the chair that it's lying on. Then he's attacked by a buzzsaw-

Which is pretty bizarre, by the standards of 'things to be scared of in your room'.

He tries to call his mother to the room to deal with the boogeymen, but that just backs up Biff's theory that Seth is turning into a sissy, and she leaves without checking on him - which gives the beasts free reign to attack him in his bed! This leaves Seth with no options but to fight the monsters himself! Which, amazingly, works long enough for his mother to arrive with a glass of water, and more lies about how Biff doesn't really mean to be an awful person. One more lullaby, and Seth is ready to sleep, under the watchful, shifting eyes of one of those creepy cat clocks:

Oh, it is the same night after all, the mother just said something about taking Christmas presents over to the neighbours. Is that something people do?

With mom out of the way Biff has the opportunity to wander, drunkenly, into Seth's room and harass him with sailor's shanties. It's odd, and not even the octopus under the bed seems especially fond of them. Once Biff's out of the way the monsters once again menace Seth, but this time he's having none of it! He's ready to stand up to his fears and, by extension, his stepfather! Which is great for him, and kind of comic in its execution. Seth goes to the bathroom, and waiting for him there is a monstrous witch!

He tries to tell Biff about it, but, as usual, the drunk has no sympathies for Seth's plight, and threatens to 'paddle' the young child! He seriously has a paddle that he's ready to use. Weird.

Before he can smack Seth around, however, he's murdered by the witch-

A twist that suggests the monsters are less metaphorical than I'd assumed they were up until this point. Although I suppose this could be an extension of the same metaphor, with Biff being destroyed by the same kinds of fears and anxieties that Seth had been struggling with.

The show then cuts to the wake after Biff's funeral - he died of a heart attack! Although Seth maintains that he was killed by monsters, which Biff was too scared to deal with! Which seems kind of harsh, Seth. After all, you had months, or even years of monster attacks gradually building in intensity to prepare you for the day that you could stand up to them. Biff, on the other hand, thought he was living in the real world where he was a man who had it all figured out, right up until the day a witch attacked him. I think he can be forgiving for overreacting slightly.


Mewlinwillinwodd said...

"Biff has the opportunity to wander, drunkenly, into Seth's room and harass him with sailor's shanties. It's odd, and not even the octopus under the bed seems especially fond of them."

Heh. Nicely phrased.

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T Smith said...

As a special effects artist, this was my favorite episode of the ten I worked on. I had to create the closet monster, a witch, buzz saw, and articulated octopus arm.
Instagram: #tksmithart #bombotz #the_formaldehydeman , the monster (Geek) from Geek Maggot Bingo.
Thanks, Tyler K. Smith