Saturday, October 3, 2015

Countdown to Halloween Day 3: Anthologies - Twilight Zone (80s) "The Shadow Man"

All right! And we're back with more Halloween-y anthology madness! Today I want to focus on a creepy little anthology TV episode from the 80s version of the Twilight Zone series! 

Not everybody loves the 80s version of the Twilight Zone, but I know I found a few really great gems in the series that haunted me for a very, VERY long time. They did manage some pretty great atmosphere and there's kind of a weird John Carpenter film kind of vibe to some of the episodes, which I always found very attractive even if I didn't know why. The episode I want to talk about tonight is the episode entitled "The Shadow Man". Going back and watching this episode as an adult, I was surprised to find it almost as creepy now as I did back then. I guess that's not usually how it is with most things from our childhood, but this one just felt so mind-numbingly terrifying as a kid that I can't conceive of a reality where this episode doesn't scare the bajeezubs out of me. Let's check it out.

"When you're thirteen years old, you're supposed to be beyond those childhood fears of things that go bump in the night. Supposed to be. But for Danny Hayes, those fears are about to rear up before him, from the shadows...of the Twilight Zone..."

So the story stars this kid named Danny who has a crush on a girl at school who is totally out of his league.

This is her, Lianna. She's Danny's dream girl and he just can't think of a way to win her over.

Of course, actual boyfriend, the bully Eric, and Eric's friends use Danny's crush on Lianna to torture him. They know he's a bit of a scaredy-cat so they take the opportunity to terrify him any chance they get, and in this instance above they use Lianna as bait to lure him into an attack dressed up as pigs with chainsaws. I LOVE THESE KIDS. Danny himself? Kind of a twerp. But we'll get to that in a moment. Danny is still afraid of the dark, and he slees with his television, radio, bedside lamp, and a nightlight all on. Until his mother puts the kibosh on that one night...

And then this guy comes crawling out from under the bed. And my mind broke like light bulb being eaten by a geek at a carnival sideshow. Just... pop! Tinkle-tinkle-tinkle. Crunch. That was it for me.

The idea that a shadowy psychopath might be living under my bed was one of the most insane concepts I have ever had to face in my young life. But there was one silver lining:

So this guy leaves Danny alone but...

He goes apes**t on a bunch of other kids, attacking them. We hear reports of this shadowy guy "getting" a few people but they're never 100% clear on whether or not this means they've been killed or just attacked or what. Some of the reports involve some close calls, but I do believe we're supposed to assume that one or two people are stone-cold killed. 

Danny, being the selfish little prat that he is, doesn't lift a finger to stop this guy. In fact, he takes advantage of his immunity to the Shadow Man to start building a reputation for himself as a fearless warrior of the night. Danny thinks he's invincible because he knows the Shadow Man under his bed won't hurt him. So he challenges bully Eric to a meeting in the playground at night and as predicted, there is a Shadowy Menace that puts in an appearance as well...

But to Danny's chagrin we discover that HIS Shadow Man is not the ONLY Shadow Man! The Shadow Man problem in Danny's town is getting kind of ridiculous, honestly. Turns out this is the Shadow Man from underneath someone ELSE'S bed!!! We assume Danny gets a little roughed up by this Shadow Man, and then let go with a firm talking to-- 

Nope. Danny's killed horribly and dragged off to be eaten in the Shadows Under some other kids bed. That is all I can assume.

I won't get into the story from the second half of this episode called "The Uncle Devil Show" which was also BRILLIANT and extremely off-putting, but let's just say it involves a Satanic VHS puppet show plus at-home magic kit that summons cockroaches, mutates dogs, transmogrifies adults without their knowledge, opens portals to other worlds, and in general warps reality. But hey, we're talking about children's programming from the 80's, sooo... pretty much standard fare.

You can find both "The Shadow Man" and "The Uncle Devil Show" on Youtube as of the time of this writing. Go check them out! And be warned... we WILL be returning to the 80s version of the Twilight Zone again before the end of October!!! I kind of wanted to avoid talking about the same TV show twice... but there's another episode of this show that made me spackle my shorts when I was a kid, so I must talk about it. I MUST.

But for tonight kids, we're done. I'll be back soon with some Gruesome Goodwill Goodies! Until then, Happy Haunting!

I'm doing this countdown as a part of the official Countdown to Halloween, so be sure to pop over there and look and see who else is participating this year.


  1. That episode ranks up with with one of the best of the 80's Twilight Zone. It was written by Rockne S. O'Bannon who wrote another one of my favorites from that series "Personal Demons". He went on to write "Alien Nation" among a bunch of other anthology and tv series scripts.

  2. Timely post as I recently was able to get a copy of the first season of the 80s twilight zone. I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw, particularly with the talent behind the camera such as Joe Dante who directed this episode as well as the gremlins movies so this episode already reminding me of our little podcast community.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...