Childhood traumas: "The Shadow Man"

In the 1980s, CBS resurrected The Twilight Zone. It ran for a few seasons, and then was cancelled after falling ratings, schedule changes, and various shufflings of the production staff.

I watched the show pretty religiously on Friday nights during its first season, and the episode that has long stood out in my memory was "The Shadow Man." Short version: timid kid discovers something scary under his bed, bad stuff ensues.

Thanks to YouTube, I just rewatched it for the first time since it originally aired:

Silly Eighties fashions and synthesizer score aside, I think it holds up pretty well.

The acting and writing are surprisingly good, and I noticed that it was directed by Joe Dante, whose extensive credits include Gremlins, The Howling (the first one, not all the shitty sequels), and the crazy segment from the movie version of The Twilight Zone with the kid who can make anything he wants come true.

Having been a rather timid child myself, I'm not surprised this episode called to me. Its wish-fulfillment aspects aside, though, it is genuinely terrifying. No small part of the scares are due to the technical execution of Shadow Man character–his initial appearance is pretty nerve-wracking, and his habit of gliding in and out of the frame is rather unsettling.

What is surprising (especially for a network TV show from 1985) is that there are kids in real danger here. I especially like that, except for the mom who spends all of a minute dismissing the kid's fears early in the show, adults are basically non-existent in the story.

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