Director: Tom Savini
Writer: Michael McDowell
Cast: Fritz Weaver, Roberta Weiss, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Music Sweet Music
Air Date: 11/18/1984
After a graduate student named Gail Aynsley (Roberta Weiss) moves in with a creepy professor known as Dr. Fenner (Fritz Weaver), the former character complains about strange noises emanating from a supposedly sealed-off storage room. Despite Dr. Fenner’s insistence that nothing could possibly be living inside Gail’s closet, late-night sounds continue to haunt the young woman until a horrifying secret reveals itself at last.
Notable among horror fans as the directorial debut of makeup veteran Tom Savini, “Inside the Closet” should be commended for its chilling atmosphere and realistic performances. While modern critics would likely condemn the outdated animatronics used to bring Savini’s monstrous creation to life, fans of practical special effects should enjoy this entry for its vintage elements.
Whereas many Tales from the Darkside episodes only vaguely allude to supernatural/paranormal happenings, “Inside the Closet” marks the first installment since the pilot episode in which a traditional horror movie structure is implemented. Spooky scratching sounds and ominous glances from a demonic lurker set the stage for a frightening climax, while Fritz Weaver’s skin-crawling portrayal of Dr. Fenner allows the audience to further sympathize with Gail’s unnerving predicament.
Although “Inside the Closet” forgoes a morality lesson in favor of eliciting pure terror, perhaps the consequences that ensue from Gail’s constant snooping can serve as a warning against the dangers of sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong. On one hand, it’s understandable that someone in the protagonist’s situation would attempt to uncover the phenomenon responsible for the bizarre occurrences in her room, lest unanswered questions result in total madness. However, the fact that Gail ignores her landlord’s suspicious behavior and instead chooses to remain in his harrowing house indicates that unbridled curiosity can be an even greater demon than the puppet monster living inside the eponymous closet.
“Inside the Closet” is an outstanding, albeit succinct, horror piece that effectively showcases Savini’s talents as a master of the macabre. Even though the closet creature’s background is never explored beyond Dr. Fenner’s occasional hints concerning a possible connection with his daughter, enthusiasts of the horror genre are sure to enjoy the mystery aspects of Michael McDowell’s narrative. Likewise, Fritz Weaver fans will certainly appreciate this actor’s eerie approach to such an oddball character.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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