Director: John Strysik
Writer: James Houghton
Cast: Alice Ghostley, Mario Roccuzzo, Fredrica Duke, Michael Cedar, and Paul Sparer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/3/1985
While preparing for their silver anniversary, Henry and Elinor Colander (Mario Roccuzzo and Alice Ghostley) bemoan the fact that “the children” are no longer present in their home. To solve this problem, the elderly couple invites a young hiker named Sybil (Fredrica Duke) to a nice anniversary dinner.
Though predictable from the onset, James Houghton’s narrative makes effective use of a darkly humorous concept. Horror enthusiasts will enjoy this episode due to its cannibalistic undertones, while fans of black comedy should view “Anniversary Dinner” for obvious reasons.
Despite their occasional bickering, Henry and Elinor come across as a kindly, loving couple thanks to the respective performances of Mario Roccuzzo and Alice Ghostley. By presenting themselves as benign and welcoming people, the two main characters manage to hide their evil intentions until the ghastly, albeit hardly shocking, finale.
As mentioned earlier, “Anniversary Dinner” suffers from a predictable twist ending given its abundance of not-so-subtle context clues prior to the final reveal.
By this point in the first season, Tales from the Darkside has offered several comedic entries that fall embarrassingly flat as a result of dated material, lackluster production values, stale humor, or any combination of the above. However, “Anniversary Dinner” overcomes the aforementioned issues by keeping its premise simple and avoiding an overemphasis on home technology of the 1980s. Through implementing a tongue-in-cheek twist on the classic Hansel and Gretel tale, this installment manages to maintain a perfect balance of dark subject matter and amusing themes without falling prey to any of the traps that have plagued this series until now.
“Anniversary Dinner” is one of the few Tales from the Darkside episodes thus far to incorporate an adequate, if not terribly subtle, approach to comedy. Fans of dark humor will certainly enjoy the kooky acting of Roccuzzo and Ghostley coupled with a gruesome implication in the final scene.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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