Tales from the Darkside

Season 3 Episode 5

The Geezenstacks

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Oct 26, 1986 on

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

out of 10
58 votes
  • This "Tales From The Darkside" episode focuses on a couple whose young daughter was given a mysterious dollhouse as a gift. As the plot unravels, it becomes clear that actions of the little girl's dolls seem to control actions of her family.

    "The Geezenstacks" is based on the original story of Frederic Brown, and the screenplay was altered a bit to accommodate for the amazing twist ending. This is one of the most successful episodes of the series as it manages to create an atmosphere of suspense and impending horror full with almost Kafkaesque colours, slightly subdued emotions of the characters, costumes, intensely creepy doll designs and enchanting background string music that ties into discordant sounds of Audrey's regular violin lessons. The episode describes a family of four-Sam and Edith with their young daughter Audrey, and Uncle Richard who brings a gift for his favourite niece-a large dollhouse complete with four perfectly crafted wax dolls, that in a way resemble Audrey's own family. The dolls have a look of strange detachment to them, with cold expressions, dark eyes and slicked back hair, they resemble wax manikins or 18th century portraits rather than children's dolls. In no time Audrey is completely engrossed in playing with her new toys, talking loudly to the dolls, and "hearing" their answers, and her father slowly starts to notice that events happening in the dollhouse start to precede actual events in the family. One day, Audrey is playing in the living room and Sam is reading the newspaper. He is worried that his wife is late from work; Audrey keeps playing loud, and announces that Mrs. Geezenstack bought herself a new coat-and father to his bemusement sees his wife walking into the front door in a new coat she just bought on the way home. She claims that "she simply could not resist it.". Other things start to happen that make Sam suspicious that there is something wrong, something evil that possesses the dolls. On another occasion, he notices that Audrey is busy tucking "Mr. Geezenstack" in bed because he has fallen badly ill and "can't go to work today"-and sure enough, father catches a stomach flu and is unable to go to work the very next morning. He becomes frightened as he sees more and more proof that Audrey-or more likely, her new dolls-have the capacity to control his and his wife's actions. On a certain occasion, Sam comes home too late unaware that Edith cooked a roast for him and expected his call; they get into a fight, and he is horrified to notice that in the middle of their argument little Audrey, who is sitting in the room with her dolls, starts to speak loudly of "Mr. Geezenstack hitting his Mrs. Geezenstack on the head". The father panics, the argument swells, and he, infuriated and terrified, barely manages to stop himself from hitting his wife. He is in shock and convinced fully that the dolls are possessed. On multiple occasions he attempts to convey his fears to his wife; he addresses Uncle Richard on occasion asking him where he got the dollhouse-and Uncle Richard tells him that they came from the empty home that a family abandoned suddenly and without warning, leaving behind nothing but the dollhouse. He denies anything strange or unusual going on with the dolls as well.
    Father is the only one who feels or notices the evildoings of the dolls-his wife and brother are worried that he is becoming mentally disturbed as his fixation on the dolls increases after another alarming episode. This night, Audrey is yelling at the dolls that she is going to punish them if they misbehave. She is playing with Mr. Geezenstack doll and suddenly says that he jumped out a window and died. Father lets out a scream, runs over to her and demands from her to promise that she "would never let her dolls get hurt or die". He is besides himself with fear. Audrey looks at him as if she does not understand the connection, expressionless.

    Mother and Uncle Richard are duly worried about the events, and as they see that the dollhouse is the culprit of father's fears, decide to dispose of it. Mother has a conversation with Audrey and tries to explain to her that the dollhouse needs to go, because her father is very worried and believes that her playing becomes real. Little Audrey accepts this explanation with due sarcasm-she says that it's dumb to believe such things. She says that her Mom and Dad need not worry to give the dolls away and that she knows that "the Geezenstacks are leaving anyway tomorrow and going away on a long, long trip". It makes the family feel at ease-as if a heavy burden was suddenly lifted. They go to sleep peacefully. In the middle of the night, father wakes up restless as if something is still bothering him; he walks into the dark living room and picks up one of the dolls-Mr. Geezenstack-and looks at him closely,as if he is about to understand something. Later that night, the dollhouse lights up in the dark.

    In the early morning, father wakes up hearing strange, muffled voice calling his name. Uncle Richard came over to see how his brother's family is doing. He sees that the house is completely empty, without a sign of the family or even furniture left behind. The only thing that is left is a dollhouse. He starts calling out Sam's name, and suddenly hears faint barely audible voices coming from the dollhouse. He kneels before it and shakes the dollhouse, breaking down and crying and calling out for Sam and Edith. Inside the house, Sam screams as the house starts to shake; Uncle Richard looks inside and sees Sam and Edith have replaced the Geezenstacks, trapped as dolls in the dollhouse forever. The ending shows a realtor walk into Sam and Edith's abandoned house and notice the dollhouse that has been left behind. She kneels by it and, charmed and smiling, looks inside and sees Sam as a doll lying on the floor of his living room next to another tiny dollhouse; she opens it up and finds the Geezenstacks inside. This episode is an eloquent tale of voodoo, and plays well with the concept that depictions of people are sometimes believed to contain parts of human soul, and that our imagination and reality are sometimes impossible to separate from one another; unlike some episodes of this series that at times are too campy and cheap, this one stands out as genuinely well-acted and atmospheric. The Geezenstacks were a family cursed to be trapped in the dollhouse, and cursed to trap the others in their turn; little girl is rather a messenger, a middle-man than a ruler of their fates. The style of the episode and especially the dolls' features and title itself are for some reason faintly reminiscent of german expressionism. Great story that stays with you even when you want to forget it.
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