When bookish student Gail Aynsley (ROBERTA WEISS) rents a room from veterinary scientist Dr. Fenner (CREEPSHOW‘s FRITZ WEAVER) she is rightfully disturbed to find that the space comes complete with a small locked door she is not to have access to. Worse still are the scratching sounds that come from within the cubby’s interior, which she assumes are the rustlings of a rat. Complaining to the doctor gets her nowhere and each night the nocturnal disturbances become progressively worse. When she finally does manage to open the door she finds it is bare and places a mouse trap within. The next morning, rather than discovering a dead vermin in her trap, she discovers the closet is now miraculously stuffed to the brim with the toys and clothing of a little girl. Didn’t the good doctor once have a daughter? Directed by special effects legend TOM SAVINI and written by the man responsible for BEETLEJUICE (MICHAEL McDOWELL),this episode, thanks to it’s bizarre beasty, became a sort of calling card for the mid ’80s GEORGE ROMERO-produced horror anthology show TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. “INSIDE THE CLOSET” is a bit too slight to cause any major chills nowadays, but it is not hard to imagine it causing grief amongst the footy pajama set upon its original airing. The fear of “What’s in the closet?” and “Do I dare hang my foot over the bed?” are pretty much a part of all of our childhoods, and this episode is tailor made to exploit those concerns. The pay off is indeed memorable and somehow manages to be slightly endearing as well.
Television has certainly had an extensive history of tiny terror tales from various episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE to the now classic TRILOGY OF TERROR and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. As recent as 2006, a WILLIAM HURT-starring installment of the mini-series NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES joined the mini-monster fray with animated toy soldiers responsible for the mayhem. The ankle biter in “INSIDE THE CLOSET” dubbed “Lizzie” by SAVINI may not be as frightening as some of her ghoulish competition, but she makes up for it with simple charm. Who could say no to those big blood shot eyes?
Who needs indelible scenes when you can watch the entire episode yourself? Currently, you can check out this popular TFTD episode via Youtube. Here is PART ONE and PART TWO! Pleasant dreams!
>>“INSIDE THE CLOSET” is a bit too slight to cause any major chills nowadays,
I must respectfully disagree. I rewatch this one every couple of years, and my reaction is always the same: “HOLY FREAKIN’ MOLEY I WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!” 🙂
Much scarier than “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” imo, and the neat doctor/daughter thing is just candy. A lot of the “Tales from the Darkside” episodes haven’t aged well, but this one still packs a wallop for the Vicar’s money.
My first year at school I rented a room from an old couple in a big house in Massachusetts and there was a rat in the closet! The house was off the water and I guess it was a common occurrence during the colder months. This episode really brought back some memories of that ordeal. Don’t get me wrong Vicar, it IS suspenseful but for me it suffers from “cute monster syndrome” . I don’t know if this happens to anybody else, but I ended up wanting to either befriend or raise “lizzie” as my own rather than run in fear of her! The movie CELLAR DWELLAR had the same effect on me so it might just be that there is something very wrong with uncle Lancifer!
this episode scared me to death as a kid. we had an old, creaky house with doors that would stay slightly ajar due to warping of the wood, i had a tiny closet in my room like the one in the episode, and my kid brother had some sort of action figure that kind of looked like the demon.
i made my parents get me a tv for my room and watched quite a bit of nick at night as a kid.
I just watched the episode again. What is implied about his wife and
the origin of the “child?” The doctor does research in veterinary science, there is a monkey’s head on the wall, no wife and his child looks like a hairless monkey.