Director: Richard Friedman
Writer: Art Monterastelli
Cast: Paul Dooley, John Fiedler, Kathy McLain, Dorothy Parke, Patrick Farrelly, and Paul Sparer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/16/1986
Lingerie salesman Chester “Soft Shoes” Caruso (Paul Dooley) rents a hotel room from Arthur (John Fiedler), a stern but oddball manager. Upon settling down for the evening, Chester is met by the advances of an alluring, volatile, and enigmatic woman named Glenda (Dorothy Parke), who seems to vanish and reappear at will.
Similar to The Shining, “The Old Soft Shoe” employs the haunted hotel trope for scares. That being said, any potential contained in said trope is marred by the unfocused (albeit vaguely coherent) direction taken by this episode.
Though hardly appropriate for a supernatural horror story, the comedic performance of John Fiedler will appeal to fans of quirky and eccentric humor. For example, Arthur’s belt machine antics provide an amusing, if thoroughly unexpected, contrast to the attempted murder of Chester, which occurs in the prior scene.
The presence of Carol—an arrogant, condescending hotel patron—serves little if any purpose; that is, except to allow for a not-so-subtle tribute to the original Psycho (i.e. Chester peers through a peephole connected to an adjacent room, wherein Carol can be seen slipping into a bathrobe—an obvious nod to the parallel sequence featuring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh).
Also problematic, Arthur responds with unwavering skepticism upon learning of Chester’s bizarre experience in cottage seven—an unrealistic reaction considering that many years earlier, Arthur’s own father was murdered in the same hotel room rented by Chester.
“The Old Soft Shoe” is an occasionally ominous Tales from the Darkside episode. However, an incongruous, almost tongue-in-cheek tone works to undermine any horror elements at the core of this offering.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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