Tales from the Darkside Episode 42: The Last Car

General Information

Director: John Strysik

Writer: Michael McDowell

Cast: Begoña Plaza, Mary Carver, Louis Guss, Scooter Stevens, Bert Williams, and Paul Sparer

Composers: Ken Lauber and Kevin Maloney

Air Date: 2/23/1986



tales-from-the-darkside-the-last-carTraveling home for Thanksgiving, attractive college student Stacey (Begoña Plaza) boards a train occupied by an old man (Louis Guss), a little boy (Scooter Stevens), a conductor (Bert Williams), and the elderly Mrs. Crane (Mary Carver). Though initially optimistic, Stacey uncovers a harrowing truth about her surroundings.

A ghoulish episode, “The Last Car” will appeal to Tales from the Darkside fans of a morbid inclination. It should be noted, however, that the majority of questions raised in this episode are never answered in a logical or satisfactory manner.



Director John Strysik should be commended for crafting an ominous, albeit occasionally campy, fright show despite the limited resources with which he tales-from-the-darkside-the-last-carwas given to work. For example, nearly every scene occurs inside a single train car, thereby establishing and amplifying any claustrophobic undertones at the core of Michael McDowell’s teleplay. As the final act approaches, horror devices of a more overt and macabre nature (e.g. skeletons, flickering lights, and creepy synthesizer music) are employed in conjunction with the terrified reactions of Stacey—the perfect culmination of suspense in a low-budget setting.



By talking back to his elders and using toy guns to “shoot” people, the little boy hampers an otherwise eerie atmosphere with his annoying antics.



tales-from-the-darkside-the-last-carSimilar to “The Hitch-Hiker” from The Twilight Zone, “The Last Car” serves as a metaphor on death itself. That being said, a lack of resolution in the final scene may lessen the impact of McDowell’s narrative thesis (i.e. the futility of resisting life’s only guaranteed outcome).


Concluding Comments

For viewers in search of a spooky entertainment piece to watch during Halloween season, “The Last Car” will not disappoint. As a commentary on human mortality, on the other hand, this offering leaves much to be desired.


Overall Quality: 7/10


If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.

Please note: Comments that are malicious, offensive, or excessively profane will be removed. Off-topic messages belong in the About section.

One thought on “Tales from the Darkside Episode 42: The Last Car

  1. Watching this episode, it felt like I was aboard a train with an annoying child, impatiently waiting for it to reach its destination which is repeatedly telegraphed throughout if it wasn’t already made obvious by the title. The penultimate scene with the skeletons is one of the most effective in the series, but for some, those ten seconds of creepiness may not have been all the ado about nothing.

Comments are closed.