Director: John Hayes
Writer: Thomas Epperson
Cast: Stuart Whitman, Nick Benedict, Therese Pare, and Paul Sparer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 5/5/1985
While finalizing the will of Edward Osbourne (Stuart Whitman), attorney Michael Fox (Nick Benedict) decides to help search for a haunted room after receiving instructions from a ghost named Ben. Edward and his wife Cathy (Therese Pare) succeed in locating a so-called madness room containing an assortment of macabre findings, where one of the main characters is revealed to be the victim of an elaborate ruse; however, only Ben has the “last laugh” in this situation.
Operating on a simple but effective premise, “The Madness Room” will appeal to Tales from the Darkside fans for obvious reasons. Also worth mentioning is the performance of Stuart Whitman, which embodies the silent terror of a skeptic turned believer upon experiencing paranormal activity in its most malevolent form.
While building and maintaining suspense, “The Madness Room” relies upon a variety of spooky clichés including a Ouija board, a ghostly spirit that ostensibly compels the female protagonist to act in bizarre and violent ways, and a hidden room concealed behind the freshly coated walls of an old, dark mansion. Despite their overuse in Hollywood movies and television productions, the above devices are remarkably effective at establishing an atmospheric tone that will indeed resonate with genre enthusiasts and series newcomers alike (even the booming, sinister laughter that can be heard echoing throughout the house makes for a fittingly delightful manner with which to end such a predictable, albeit highly entertaining, horror piece).
(Spoilers beyond this point)
A basic morality lesson is present, with Michael and Cathy receiving their just desserts through a series of supernatural events combined with some last-minute “help” from Edward.
By invoking then decades-old horror tropes in order to generate an ominous tone, “The Madness Room” may fail to impress audiences of a critical mindset. For those who enjoy lighthearted entertainment of the Halloween-inspired variety, however, this episode will not disappoint.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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