Director: John Strysik
Writers: Harvey Jacobs and Michael McDowell
Cast: Marie Windsor, Robert Rothman, Ben Frank, Robert Sutton, Patricia Pelham, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 1/26/1986
At a bargain price, Archie Fenton (Robert Rothman) rents a room at the St. George apartment block. When his neighbor Helen Tanner (Patricia Pelham) disappears in the middle of the night, Archie becomes suspicious of his landlady Madame Angler (Marie Windsor); and of the apartment itself.
“A New Lease on Life” offers a chilling execution of the absurd narrative written by Harvey Jacobs and Michael McDowell. Specifically, horror themes are emphasized in conjunction with tongue-in-cheek vibes, thereby resulting in an effective use of the monster house trope.
It should be noted that the concept of a living, breathing apartment complex may unintentionally elicit snickering from those of an unserious inclination. Certain growling/grumbling noises produced by the St. George building do, however, accentuate the ominous nature of Adam K. Jacobs’ premise, adding realism to a fantastic (if not downright laughable) situation. Also worth praising are Madame Angler’s creepy, thinly veiled allusions to a malevolent being, which maintain an air of intrigue despite the obvious truth concerning St. George (i.e. any bizarre happenings are attributable to a sentient, organically composed creature amalgamated with the actual apartment).
(Spoilers beyond this point)
If something seems too good to be true (e.g. exceptionally low rent), it probably is.
Though marred by excessive camp (a trademark of almost every Tales from the Darkside installment), this episode employs a clever and disturbing method of generating suspense. “A New Lease on Life” will therefore appeal to fans of the horror/comedy genre.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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