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Series / Darkroom

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"You're in a house. Maybe your own... maybe one you've never seen before. You feel it. Something evil. You run, but there's no escape... nowhere to turn. You feel something beckoning you... drawing you into the terror that awaits you in the Darkroom!'"

Darkroom is an horror anthology series that ran for 7 episodes in 1981 and 1982. Each episode had either two or three segments of varying length, all of which had a Twist Ending, and was hosted by James Coburn. It was notable for featuring numerous notable guest stars who were or would go on to be big names in both film and television, including David Carradine, Ronny Cox, Grant Goodeve and Helen Hunt.

This series provides examples of:

  • Actually Not a Vampire: In "The Bogey Man Will Get You" (from the Robert Bloch story of the same name) a young woman believes her big sister's boyfriend is a vampire. He isn't. He's actually a werewolf.
  • Affably Evil: Network head Bill Bellamy from "Closed Circuit", who is polite and friendly to Greg Conway, but is willing to do anything for money, even have his stars trapped for the rest of their lives, albeit in total luxury.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the end of "Closed Circuit", it seems Bill Bellamy is going to kill Greg Conway. Instead, he leaves him trapped inside a prison underneath the network building where he can have everything he wants... except freedom.
  • Breaking Speech: In "Closed Circuit", Greg Conway is given one by a simulation of himself to get him to comply with Bellamy’s plan. It works.
  • Buried Alive: The fate of the pimp in "Needlepoint", who has a voodoo doll of him buried, resulting in him asphyxiating.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: A staple of the series. Pretty much every episode has a twist that means the lead character is going to suffer either death or a Fate Worse than Death, even if they did nothing to deserve it. About the only exception was Billy Crystal's character hitting the Karmic Jackpot in "Make-Up."
  • Dead Person Impersonation: A horrific example in "Uncle George". A homeless man (Dub Taylor) is approached by a kindly couple (Claude Akins and June Lockhart) with a strange offer. They will provide him with a place to live, watch over him and provide him with food and comfort if he agrees to impersonate their Uncle George, who recently passed away. George has been receiving regular checks from the railroad, and the couple have come to rely on that money to keep afloat. Its only after he agrees to the deal that he learns the reason why George was receiving this money from the railroad. George had lost his legs in an accident while working for the railroad, and in order for them to convince anyone from the railroad who comes to check on George, the homeless man must lose his legs as well. Cue the chainsaw.
  • Dying Town: "The Partnership" is set in a dying, backwoods Southern town where the residents have mostly moved out, with the exception of a few old-timers.
  • Faking the Dead: In "A Quiet Funeral", crook Marty Vetch (Robert F. Lyons) double-crosses his partner Charlie Provo (Eugene Roche), a skilled forger, and leaves him for dead. Later, he reads about Charlie's upcoming funeral in a newspaper, and visits the funeral home to pay his last respects, knowing if he didn't show, his fellow crooks would get suspicious. It turns out the funeral notice was a forgery made by Charlie for the purpose of getting Marty to the funeral home. With the help of a friend, Charlie puts Marty inside his own coffin and locks him in, to return the next day so that they will hold a quiet funeral for Marty.
  • The Film of the Book: Some episodes were based on short stories.
  • Horror Host: The owner of the eponymous darkroom, a mysterious photographer played by James Coburn. The German version of the show replaced the photographer with a shopkeeper played by Carl-Heinz Schroth.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Subverted. Greg Conway of "Closed Circuit" fancies himself one of these, but as the simulation of him points out, he has long since sold out.
  • Southern Gothic: "The Partnership".
  • The Vietnam Vet: Neil from "Siege of 31 August" is a Vietnam veteran, who is still blinded by patriotism and is trying to force his son into a career in the military. The episode implies that this is a result of trauma he experienced in the war.