This is a tribute to a Tales from the Darkside fansite that hasn’t been updated since 2005. No joke, it really is!
As of this writing, the Angelfire-hosted site is still online. It’s ancient and it looks ancient, but to me, it was – and to some degree, still is – a perfect representation of “true passion” on the Internet. This wasn’t some flashy thing built to be a huge attraction, nor was it created by someone bent on making himself a superstar. It was pure work from a pure fan, and I have to admit, it makes me a little bit jealous.
And of course, since I’m a big Tales from the Darkside nut, the site also holds a more direct attraction for me. Even if 2005 doesn’t seem that long ago, it was, and besides, the fansite was obviously built several years before then, anyway. Back then, you couldn’t find stuff like this so easily online, and the site’s information was an absolute goldmine.
Now I’m going to break down the site’s sections and include lots and lots of screenshots. Long-dormant Angelfire pages can’t last forever, and I’d like to preemptively gather some mementos of it. This is not the kind of article that will increase Dino Drac’s popularity one bit, but I think that’s the best tribute I can give this fansite.
The Overview page gives a general summary of the series, along with details about when and where it aired. At least as of the writing of the overview, Tales from the Darkside was no longer on television. (Though it is now, on Chiller – and I have a DVR constantly at 99% capacity to prove it.)
The real meat of the fansite is its Episode Guide, summarizing every episode of the series, from all four seasons. Online episode guides are just about my favorite thing ever, and I’ve lost myself for hours even within guides for shows I barely care about. I’ll never forget that week spent with the flu, a heating pad and 720,000 TwOP recaps.
The summary for each episode is kept short, and if the author had any, he’d insert additional comments or notes. Sometimes, he’d tell you that an episode was one the Tales’s best. Other times, he’d crap on one in a totally non-venomous way. Again, I’m jealous. So many of us have lost our ability to put things online that are truthful with zero exaggerations and zero alterations to our real feelings, and I’m as guilty of that as anyone.
If nothing else, I think I’m experienced enough to see that nearly everyone does this now. Even the ones who don’t think they do, do. It’s just the nature of the environment.
Point is, when this guy said that If The Shoes Fit was a fucking terrible episode, I believed it — with no salt added.
Long ago, every episode summary came with an associated screengrab. Today, most of those have been replaced Photobucket error images. It shouldn’t upset me, but it does. It’s kind of like looking at a photo of someone who died. Though, if pressed to explain why, I don’t think I could.
Oh yeah, a poll! In ancient times, that was the #1 method of showing the world that your website was a labor of love. If you went through the trouble of coding a poll, you had to be really trying! (Hell, I remember there being polls all over “Year 1 X-E,” where readers voted on stupid things like “Best Cartoon Duck.”)
This poll seeks to name the best episode of Tales from the Darkside’s second season. I took a chance on it somehow still being active, and selected The Last Car.
Wow, the poll still works! Unfortunately, my pick is currently in second, trailing far behind Halloween Candy.
Halloween Candy is a great episode, but people tend to overestimate Tales’s few Halloween episodes. The Last Car was better, and way creepier. Of the poll’s 1102 participants, 873 were idiots. Here, look:
The Last Car was one of the strangest episodes in the series, and easily among the most frustrating. All Tales episodes had screwy endings, but some of them went past simple “about-faces” and straight into totally indecipherable territory, where the phrase “open to interpretation” really meant “this makes no sense.”
I think The Last Car may be one such episode – but that’s part of why I like it.
The gist: A young student takes the train home for the holidays, but it’s no normal train. It makes no stops, and its few passengers convey an odd mix of dementia and serenity. One passenger, a little boy, seems to be in a different costume every time she looks at him. And everyone goes berserk whenever the train enters a tunnel, which causes the lights to flicker and the entire train to shake.
Oh, and did I mention that the passengers turn into rotting corpses whenever the train hits a tunnel? Yeah, there’s that.
After several unsuccessful attempts to flee the caboose, the girl accepts her fate, settles into her chair, and gives up on hope.
In the final moments, as the train enters another tunnel, we see everyone as corpses again, but this time, the student has joined the fray, too. (To indicate age, her corpse’s hair is covered in cobwebs — though it looks more like tree tinsel.)
I still have no idea what that was about. Was the train symbolic of hell? Was it just some “blip” in the universe, stuck in a mutant time loop? Were the “tunnel corpses” evidence of brief fast-forwards? Fans are split on this one, to the point where few have dared to explain the plot with stern confidence. Nobody wants to get it wrong, and nobody is sure they have it right.
The Last Car should’ve won their silly poll.
A Multimedia page offers tiny photos of Tales From The Darkside videos and laserdiscs. (Tales would not become available on DVD for years, but now, you can buy the whole series.)
The “Sounds” portion of the page only has a “coming soon” message, but since it’s been over seven years, I think we can put that dream to bed. My kingdom for a wav file of Isaac saying “happiness is precious” from In The Cards. Well, maybe half my kingdom. I guess it’s not that important.
The Message Forums page links to a message board and a forum, which were apparently separate entities. Neither of the links work, so either the forums have been relocated, or were destroyed when their free host stopped free hosting. The guest book still seems reasonably alive, though!
EDIT: Actually, if you follow the updated URLs, the message board is still active — and still getting a few posts!
I was especially interested in the chat room. It’s a blast to see old website chat rooms still active today, at least in a literal sense. It’s not like you’re gonna find anyone in there, but man, how cool would it be if you did? Imagine logging into a 2005 Tales from the Darkside chat room, in 2012, and finding Mary from Nantucket waiting inside. You’d trade memories of the Debbie Harry episode, until a “brb dinner” ended your relationship almost as soon as it began.
I couldn’t get it to load on Firefox or Chrome, but that might just be because I don’t update anything on this computer until it grows metal arms and forces me to.
I will miss this website when it’s gone, but I already miss the version of the Internet it came from.
Don’t you dare pull a purge, Angelfire.
Also: If you visit the fansite, you’re going to see a “LAST UPDATED: TODAY,” message at top, accurate to today’s date no matter what “today” is when you look at it. That’s just a code trick. Don’t buy the hype. This is an OLD page. Very!