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Friday, December 30, 2005

1.23 --- The Shadow Man

Directed by : Joe Dante
Written by : Rockne S. O'Bannon
Starring : Jonathan Ward, Jason Presson, Heather Haase
First aired : 29th of November, 1985.

Danny (Jonathan Ward, Mac and Me) is the smartest, but also least-liked, kid in school. Just so he's furtherly made to believe the fact he is a coward, a group of jocks, lead by Eric (Jason Presson, Explorers), ambushes him using a beautiful Liana (Heather Haase) as bait and frighten him to death.

Still reeling from this unpleasant experience, Danny is spending the night with all the lights on. His mother intervenes and induces a black-out, saying that he's a big boy now and that he can manage it. What she does not know is that under Danny's bed lurks a monster - the shadow man, who moments later wiggles himself from underneath and exclaims in a frightening voice that he is the shadow man, but that he never hurts the person under whose bed he lives. On that note, he exits through the window, leaving Danny scared stiff in his bed.

The next morning, Danny is attempting to explain all this to his best friend Peter, getting only disbelieving looks in return. However, when the word goes out that there is someone ambushing kids after dark who looks exactly like Danny's shadow man, he is certain that he is not imagining things.

In state of panic, parents impose a curfew on their children, and Danny accidentally overhears a conversation between Liana and Eric, during which Eric says he can't go to her place after school to help her with math as he is afraid of the "maniac". Realizing this is his chance, Danny fills in for Eric, safe from shadow man's nightly prowl, and becomes the most popular boy in school.

That particular title has its drawbacks though. After brushing Peter off, who now believes in the shadow man story but wants Danny reporting it to the authorities, Danny is assaulted by vengenful Eric in the school cafeteria. Worming out of a public encounter, Danny cunningly schedules an after-school evening fight in a park known to be as epicentre of shadow man's activity. Eric, wary of his reputation amongst his peers, reluctantly agrees.

As the hour strikes, Danny is waiting in the park, fully confident he is unbeatable with the help of his shadowy ally. Eric soon joins him, and after a brief chase around the park with Danny buying time, shadow man appears. Realizing he's in grave danger, Eric bolts, but Danny is standing triumphantly...until the shadow man grabs him by his neck and lifts him high up, informing him that he is the shadow man and that he'll never hurt the person under whose bed he lives...but that he's not the shadow man from under his bed !

***

A clever little campfire-like story directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Twilight Zone : The Movie), The Shadow Man is great fun, and not as malevolent as it might sound, making it suitable for younger audiences who would like to scare themselves a wee bit. In the tradition of great old school TZ episodes, there is a twist at the end, and a rather unpredictable one at that...well, at least I haven't seen it coming.

The shadow man himself is played by Jeff Calhoun, who usually earns his paycheck by choreographing stage plays.

Comments on "1.23 --- The Shadow Man"

 

Anonymous Big Kev said ... (6:05 PM) : 

one of my favorite episodes when i was a kid ..just watched it and it gave me chills.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:00 PM) : 

where can i watch this????

 

Anonymous Thurisaz said ... (6:09 AM) : 

This episode reignited a fear of the bogeyman. It's definitely memorable for being the very fear works of fiction that had the balls to kill (or at least imply) the death of a child, which is still taboo horror, despite stepping over almost every other boundary set in the past.

You know, for years, I thought the ending was the Shadow Man telling Danny "I (now) liver under someone else's bed," which would imply that he may have gotten tired of him being a little prick and decided to move so he could do away with the runt. Not that the ending is necessarily bad, but it does produce a minor plothole - that is, how can Danny be certain that the Shadow Man will show up there? In fact, before he and his Shadow Man depart, Danny says nothing about a rendezvous, so he could have just as easily gotten smacked down by the jock.

On a side note, while you obviously don't see any detail of the Shadow Man, when Danny shows up at Liana's house, we see him standing tall in the middle of the street when, during a relatively close-up, he turns his head where it appears his face is that of skull. That's just a nice, subtle touch.

 

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