One of my fondest memories from childhood was staying up late and watching the many glorious horror-themed shows late-night TV had to offer us back in the 80’s. My mom was pretty cool about that back then. I was no more than five and I still recall the greats I spent many nights watching. Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Unsolved Mysteries – just to name a few, and their themes still ring loud and clear in the shadowy halls of my memory.
One thing these spooktacular shows all shared was a riveting opening title accompanied by a haunting score. You all know what I’m talking about. The Twilight Zone sports a pivotal theme that remains timeless to this day. And who can deny the impact Danny Elfman’s immortal theme from Tales From the Crypt had on our generation? Remarkable!
All of that is to bring us to the subject at hand revolving around one of my favorite creepy shows, Tales From the Darkside!
From horror maestro himself, George Romero came this grizzly collection featuring beloved short horror tales from the mind of Clive Barker and other renowned writers of horror, Tales From the Darkside brought scary stories to life in various comeuppance morality tales.
The opening always gave me the chills as a kid. That eery as Hell music playing over visions of lovely fields, a country farmstead, a rippling brook and a covered bridge. Sights that should convey a welcoming sense of warmth and meditation, something the dark mind of Paw Paw Romero intentionally planned just so he could pull the rug out from underneath our feet. The sights change as the title is revealed and all of a sudden the pleasant world we have been introduced to is malformed into a sinister realm of shadows and dread, just like the genuine dark world which awaits behind the placid world we live in. Darkness is always just only one bad day away.
Right before the title shows, and I mean like a second or so before, we see in the bottom left corner a car that gets swallowed up in the Darkside. It never was anything I gave much of a thought to until an ex of mine mentioned the car was a blooper. Like it was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to be caught on film. Like while the studio was filming the opening shots some random car photobombed the process.
Funny, because I never once got that impression. I told her that too and explained how I always assumed the car was meant to be there. As if whatever family was in that car had just suddenly been sucked into the void. The idea startled her, because that’s how Hell works, right? One moment you’re out enjoying a lovely drive out in the countryside and the next the Darkside consumes you, your day, and possibly you’re entire life.
A flat tire lands you stranded in the middle of the shadowy woods where you can hear a distant banjo playing.
You’re out by yourself hoping to get some sun by the lake when local rapists come zooming by with oogly eyes all over your body.
You get a puzzle box and suddenly awaken the wonders of Hell.
You have a nightmare that lures the dream demon to your helpless state of mind.
That’s what horror has always been about! The normal and everyday world being consumed by the Darkside. That little car in the opening credits epitomizes what we love about horror. I don’t know who was in that car – and that’s part of the charm, it could be anyone of us in it – but I thank them for providing such a wonderful (but underrated) visual for us.
Ok my Nasties, this has been your good pal, Manic Exorcism once again. I’ll be back later to over-analyze even more things no one in their right mind would give a second thought to. But hey, that’s what we do here.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment below? Was it a simple photobomb, or perhaps there was something more sinister afoot?