Director: T.J. Castronova
Writer: Edithe Swensen
Cast: Phyllis Diller, Lawrence Tierney, Anita Dangler, Tanya Fenmore, Charlotte Von Vogt, Carolyn Seymour, John Marzilli, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 11/24/1985
A little girl named Mary Jane (Tanya Fenmore) is possessed by Aisha Candisha—the queen of seductresses—and Gad, a self-proclaimed destroyer and commander. Motivated by a $50,000 reward, inexperienced occult practitioners Nora and Jack Mills (Phyllis Diller and Lawrence Tierney) decide to “help” Mary Jane overcome her struggle.
An asinine parody of The Exorcist, “The Trouble with Mary Jane” is marred by a juvenile execution. Serious viewers would therefore be wise to avoid this episode, the comedic efforts of which may elicit cringing from all but the most lighthearted of Tales from the Darkside enthusiasts.
“The Trouble with Mary Jane” contains many self-aware gags that might amuse fans of the movie that inspired it. For example, a possessed Mary Jane forces her doll heads to spin in a 360° fashion, prompting her mother to respond with the tongue-in-cheek line, “My, that was original, very creative!” in an obvious nod to the infamous parallel scene from The Exorcist.
Though deliberately hyperbolic, Tanya Fenmore’s portrayal of Mary Jane fails to embody the ominous threat conveyed by Linda Blair in the original film. Especially problematic are the exaggerated facial expressions of Fenmore, which grow entirely repetitious over time—a flaw that prevents Mary Jane from maintaining a humorous, let alone terrifying, presence when necessary.
The atrocious dialogue of demons Aisha Candisha and Gad will likewise induce groaning from audiences of a mature inclination. Edithe Swensen’s appalling exposition is additionally worsened by Carolyn Seymour and John Marzilli, the demonic voices of whom result in a booming, clichéd effect devoid of any original qualities whatsoever.
“The Trouble with Mary Jane” deserves credit for never presenting itself as anything more than a low-budget horror spoof. That being said, a self-deprecating premise should not excuse the poor production values that plague nearly every sequence.
Overall Quality: 2/10
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