Darkroom (TV Series 1981–1982) Poster

(1981–1982)

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10/10
Forgotten Gem
ecwaenigma18 July 2006
Fun little EC-ish horror anthology series that lasted only seven episodes on ABC in 1981/82. Each episode had 2 to 3 short stories in it with a total of 16 stories in all. The best of these being the 1-2 punch of "Needlepoint", a VERY short voodoo revenge story that scared the living hell out of me when I was 4 years old (no V-chip back then), and "Siege of 31 August" with Ronny Cox as a Vietnam vet who gets his just desserts for terrible war crimes. Too bad it only ran half of a season. Universal really needs to release this on DVD soon as stars like Billy Crystal, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehey, Claude Akins, and more gave this short lived series some much needed future star power. Here's hoping they're reading this.
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8/10
Fond memories of twisted stories
man_on_phyr10 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching this show as a kid, and I loved it! LOL. All my friends would talk about the latest episode the next day at school.

Of course, I've always been a fan of horror anthologies (Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Amicus films). I can still remember many of the stories from this series, most or all of which seem to have been written by one of my favorite horror writers, Robert Bloch (author of Psycho and original creator of virtually every twist ending ever seen in such tales).

It's possible I'd watch Darkroom today and not find it as "cool" as I did when I was a kid, but I'd certainly watch if for no other reason then to see just how well I remember the stories. I'd love to have this series on DVD.

Some memorable moments:

The toy soldiers coming to life... The voodoo doll that doubled as a chew toy... Claude Akins with a circular saw... Talking flowers and the secrets they tell... The thing under the fun-house (that enjoyed a slice of pie for dessert)... A double-cross involving murder and that guy from Eight Is Enough (Grant Goodeve)...

I could probably recall more, but that's not too bad considering I haven't seen this show since I was 10.

Hopefully, someone will decide that this series deserves a rebirth on DVD.
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8/10
Well-done TV series that was cut short.
lost-in-limbo13 February 2017
"You are in a house. Maybe your Own. Maybe one you've never seen before. You feel it... something evil. You run, but there's no escape. Nowhere to turn. You feel something beckoning you. Drawing you into the terror that awaits you in the DARKROOM!"

I just watched the complete series of Darkroom over the last couple of nights and was completely surprised by how compelling, effective, creepy and amusing the short stories were in this anthology series. There was a nice variety to the tales in tone and length, with a certain cleverness within their imaginative twists and turns. Ending on a killer note. They were well-made and ably brought across with sound technical delivery despite the cheap looking origins.

The memorable intro is ominously unnerving and from the photographic darkroom James Coburn effortlessly narrates with a wry touch. Familiar faces in the cast show up, some even before hitting it big. Interesting to see some genre film-makers attached; Paul Lynch (Prom Night, Humongous), Curtis Harrington (Queen of Blood, The Killing Kind & Ruby) and Rick Rosenthal (Halloween 2). Other than one story I didn't care for (Daisies), I really enjoyed this creative, if short-lived series.

Some of my favourites were 'Make-Up' starring Billy Crystal and Brian Dennehy, 'The Partnership' starring David Carradine and 'Exit Line' starring Samantha Eggar and Stan Shaw.

Well worth a look if you were entertained by the likes of 'Night Gallery' and 'Alfred Hitchcok Presents'.

...
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5/10
Short-Lived Series
AaronCapenBanner1 December 2013
James Coburn hosted this short-lived anthology series where he presented each tale literally from a darkroom, where he would develop pictures that would relate in some way to the story. This only ran for 7 episodes, and the reason may have been because it so relentlessly cynical and downbeat, with rarely a happy ending for anyone. This might work once or twice, but for most of the 16 segments it must wear the viewer down, and make them turn it off. Did feature future stars like Helen Hunt and Billy Crystal. "Night Gallery" did this sort of thing better. Not yet on DVD, but was on YouTube for awhile. Universal studios owns it, so perhaps Shout/Scream Factory will release it?
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Too inconsistent for words
RipCity31 December 2004
Only lasting six episodes, Darkroom proved why anthology series can work, and why they can't.

Way too many of the short segments were clichéd (oh no, yet another 'man has a chance to change the past' story), obvious and dull. And then they'll throw in a story like "The Boogieman Will Get You", or the one with Billy Crystal to tease you into watching again, hoping for one good moment to make sitting through the bad moments worthwhile. Every so often they delivered, but not enough to work on a whole.

James Coburn tried to give the show a presence, but a show like this lives and dies by it's writing, and all too often it died.
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The premise for "Frequency" came from this series
blenderhead-13 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
An episode of Darkroom featured a ham radio operator who contacted the past and altered the events leading up to his father's death....particularly, his dad being killed in a liberty ship taking him across the Atlantic during WWII (it was sunk by a U-boat). He sets these wheels in motion one night and wakes up the following morning to find his world changed: his father is certainly alive, but that's not the only thing that's different. The streets are lined with Mercedes Benzes and German Army soldiers. The Allies didn't win the war in this new altered history. Of course the story ends here and leaves the audience hanging, in fashion typical of this genre.
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10/10
Loved that series
barrygreenblatt7 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I very well do remember thus short lived series and also think a DVD release would be nice for those that do not have Amazon Prime - maybe I should join up or watch series on my friends Amazon Prime account. Anyway I especially loved that Frequency episode - spoiler alert - a must see!
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8/10
Developing Terror
hellraiser74 December 2019
This show is another under the radar gem, this was an anthology horror I honestly never heard about until there was a marathon of it on the "Sci-Fi" channel. Yeah this show's not a classic but it could have been, if this show like any developing photograph given a little more time, it could have been with the line up of other anthology horror shows like "Tales from the Darkside" and "The Twilight Zone" (80's revival); sadly the shows ratings just didn't develop fast enough what a shame.

I really like that intro which I'll admit is one of the creepiest intros up there with "Are you Afraid of the Dark" and those two shows I mentioned earlier, and it's an honorable mention in favorite themes. Just seeing that camera constantly moving through an unknown house which really created a sense of disorientation, creeped me out as I was afraid the camera was going to pick up on a ghost or monster within the unknown household. And hear that creepy music with the narration by James Coburn, I'll admit those things gave me a small chill.

The late great James Coburn is just very good as the host, he defiantly has the voice that just fits with the show, almost feels like the kind of voice you might hear in a horror radio show (shame that actor never got to do those). Always like how he's always going throughout the house and even shows us each developing photo which goes with the upcoming story.

Despite a short time the show managed to have some memorable stories, from a double billing episode where the first one is sort of an E.C. comics like tale on a Voodoo Priestess getting revenge on a dirty pimp.

The second is a sad but interesting tale on a Vietnam Vet whose guilt finally catches up with him in the form of small solders; this tale sort of predates a Steven King short story from "Nightmares and Dreamscapes" which was uncannily similar. Makes me wonder if Steven King watched this show.

Another is almost a superhero tale, on a down on his luck protagonist that's is a target for mobsters and his only salvation is a mystical make up bag that can change him into anything. This tale was one of Billy Crystal's debuts and the episode is defiantly worth looking at for his performance which is impressive.

Final note, it would be really cool if this show got a DVD and Blu Ray release as this show is another lost unreleased gem. "Mill Creek Entertainment" should think of getting on this as they are famous for releasing some shows and movies forgotten and under the radar, it's a thought to consider anyway.

Overall, it's a solid anthology horror show, it's not quite a classic but like any developing photograph is worth a look.

Rating: 3 stars
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Predictable Anthology Series
Theo Robertson10 February 2003
If you love films like TALES FROM THE CRYPT or shows like THE NIGHT GALLERY you`ll like DARKROOM . But if you hate these types of shows then there`s unfortunately nothing here that will endear DARKROOM to you , the only real difference between this and its predecessors in the anthology series is that it stars James Coburn , well stars maybe isn`t the word because he`s only used as a links man to introduce the stories . As for the stories themselves they`re not at all different to anything THE TWILIGHT ZONE or NIGHT GALLERY had already done , and you do get the feeling the idea was well past its sell by date by 1981
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Under-developed and over-exposed...
Mister-631 August 2000
What hath Rod Serling wrought?

You can tell a network's in trouble when it has to drag the same musty ideas out of the closet over and over and OVER again. Here's a prime example of going to the well way too often.

"Darkroom" was an anthology series in the same vein as "The Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits", "Night Gallery" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - so what's the big diff this time? Well, remember the artistry, talent and well-written stories in those prior series? None of that's in evidence here.

James Coburn hosts here much in the same vein as he played the bad guy in "Looker", which ain't saying much. The stories aren't much, either - every single one of them is downbeat, ugly, nasty and defeatist. I mean, COME ON! Even Serling had the good sense to have a comic episode of the "Zone" once in a while.

Even though there are a few familiar faces in the stories (Robert Webber, Claude Akins, Rue McClanahan, Billy Crystal, Michael Constantine, etc.), nothing they do here will ever come up on their A&E Biographies. At least, they hope so.

No wonder it didn't last a full season. Who, in their right mind, would subject themselves to a whole season of under-developed defeatist sludge? Of course, this is the same decade that brought us "Twilight Zone: The Movie"....

No stars for "Darkroom"; the buck f-stops here.

TIDBIT - "Darkroom" premiered on Thursdays on ABC right before the Robert Stack police drama "Strike Force", another Cop series that was as dark and mean-spirited as "Darkroom".

Maybe if Stack and Coburn switched places and had their shows produced by the ZAZ guys (whom Stack worked with on "Airplane!")...?
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