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!