Tales from the Darkside Episode 29: The Satanic Piano

General Information

Director: John Harrison

Writer: John Harrison

Cast: Michael Warren, Lisa Bonet, Phil Roth, Felice Orlandi, and Paul Sparer

Composer: John Harrison

Air Date: 11/3/1985



tales-from-the-darkside-the-satanic-pianoStruggling to overcome creative block, composer Pete Bancroft (Michael Warren) is approached by Wilson Farber (Phil Roth)—a man whose piano can translate thoughts into music. In order to utilize Wilson’s innovative instrument, however, Pete must pay a price that will have severe ramifications for his daughter Justine (Lisa Bonet).

“The Satanic Piano” operates on a goofy premise. That being said, the compelling performances of Michael Warren and Lisa Bonet compensate for the campy, idiotic subject matter at the core of this episode.



Phil Roth should be applauded for conveying the slimy, creepy manner that would be expected of a street hustler and occult practitioner combined into tales-from-the-darkside-the-satanic-pianoone stereotypically villainous, albeit effectively skin-crawling, antagonist. Also commendable is the fact that Pete Bancroft initially reacts with skepticism toward Wilson and his sleazy sales pitch, a response that adds an air of realism to the otherwise cartoonish circumstances whereby both characters first encounter each other (nevertheless, Pete’s incredulous demeanor fades almost too quickly to allow for a thoroughly convincing outcome).



Limited by the musical abilities of John Harrison, “The Satanic Piano” fails to make credible the notion that Justine’s song—actually a simple, repetitive synthesizer piece—would be inspired enough to grant Wilson access to an interdimensional gateway. Additionally difficult to take seriously is the concept of a supernatural piano, which borders on absurd even by usual Tales from the Darkside standards.



tales-from-the-darkside-the-satanic-pianoThough somewhat cheesy in its execution, “The Satanic Piano” teaches a worthwhile lesson about valuing family over hobbies, possessions, and work-related endeavors.


Concluding Comments

A mixed bag, “The Satanic Piano” struggles to generate a captivating atmosphere from the absurd narrative devices employed by Harrison. Tales from the Darkside fans may nonetheless enjoy this offering, which couples then groundbreaking science fiction (i.e. technology run amok) with material of an ominous variety.


Overall Quality: 5/10


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