Parents undoubtedly love their children, but every once in a while they want a little time off. That’s where a babysitter or nanny comes in. If all goes according to plan, these domestic bargains can come and go in hours with a little extra cash on hand, plus the satisfaction of knowing that they helped relieve a parent’s stress for a short time. while.
However, not all of these caregivers (or their loved ones) escape unscathed; those in horror consider themselves lucky if they can return home after their horrific ordeals.
And as these five horrific episodes in a TV anthology series demonstrate, childcare can be downright scary…
Tales from the dark side (1983-1988)
Tales from the dark side wasn’t exactly a straightforward anthology. Very often, this iconic creepshow was vague, existential, and sometimes artistic. The episodes that fans tend to remember the most are those where the threat has a physical form; this includes “Halloween Candy”, “Inside the Closet”, and “Seasons of Belief”. The majority of the series is much more abstract and minimal.
In the fourth season, the last episode before the successor of the series Monsters created, Dark side had largely given up on the overt horrors he sometimes demonstrated. However, there are exceptions that aren’t talked about as much as previous offerings. One of them is the babysitter’s tale of terror”silence“.
According to a story of Zenna Henderson, “Hush” begins authentically; a stressed mother (Bonnie Gallup) is set to leave as babysitter, Jennifer (Nil Lanning), shows up to take care of Buddy (Eric Jason). The mother, who is incredibly sneaky about her plans that night, then leaves with the belief that everything will be fine now that Jennifer is there. Of course, she has no idea what will happen to the babysitter and the boy whose invention has gone haywire. Throughout the night, Buddy’s homemade vacuum comes to life and goes wild. It even takes a life before the night is over.
As its title suggests, “Hush” is about sound. The killer vacuum cleaner goes after every noise in the house. Not much going on in this mid-range Dark side episode that can be considered innovative, but it’s refreshing to see a more corporeal antagonist before the end of the series.
Crime scene (1984-1985)
This obscure and short-lived anthology originally aired on NBC in the mid-eighties. three episodes of Crime scene were also released on VHS. On the back of the box, the description reads: “Orson Welles hosts This Mysterious Lover’s Delight, a trio of complex and thorny cases, each featuring a gallery of celebrity suspects and asking you to uncover the whodunnit.”
Those lucky enough to catch the show when it aired live distinctly remember a segment titled “The babysitter“. What seems to have been lost to time is available again, and it’s understandable why this story has stuck with viewers after all these years. Welles would normally encourage the audience to help solve the crime depicted, but here he asks them to put away their detective hats and just relax and enjoy the story. He then adds, “…if you can.”
In “The Babysitter”, young Tricia (Priscilla Weems) receives a gift — a figurine resembling a magician — from the clown (Robert Donner) at his recent birthday party. Later, as her parents are about to leave for the night, Tricia becomes visibly terrified. Kids her age would be afraid of the dark or monsters in the closet, but Tricia’s fear comes from an unexpected source.
“The Babysitter” is filled with anxiety as Tricia succumbs to her tormentor (Isabelle Walker) bad behavior and cruel tricks. Although this story has already subverted expectations once, it starts all over again at the end when Tricia finally fights back.
Beyond belief: fact or fiction (1997-2002)
Red eyed creature
Some babysitters don’t go home just because they live with their employer. This is the case of Maggie (Tide Cheatham), the family’s nanny in “Red eyed creature“. The Sterling soon find themselves victims of an inexplicable evil in this disturbing Beyond belief: fact or fiction story.
Trouble eventually arises after the Sterlings move into their new home with Maggie, who lives in the maid’s quarters. Everything seems pretty good at first; the house is beautiful and spacious, and Billy (James Colton) grows up in a healthy and stimulating environment. A perfect life slowly unravels once the son sees something strange and scary.
Billy is the first to see the titular monster; a late-night snack turns into a race for survival as the boy spots the pair of glowing, disembodied red eyes in the kitchen. Her mother is the next to see them, although her husband is still unconvinced. Especially when the red “eyes” appear to be nothing more than two red lights on the security system box. The parents consider sending Billy to a therapist before it all gets out of hand, but Maggie says she’ll have a talk with him instead. It is then that it is revealed that the red-eyed creature is none other than Maggie herself.
This bizarre segment is said to be based on fact – but the host Jonathan Frakes provides no concrete evidence. However, it was typical for this anthology to gloss over details. As for why Maggie would terrorize her employers and loved ones, there’s always the theory that she did it because she wanted to feel needed. She wanted the boy to be scared so he would cling to her rather than pull away as he matured.
The twilight zone (2002-2003)
Some babysitters go the extra mile to learn how to take care of children. What’s this Jessica Simpsonit is blurred area the character that Miranda makes when she comes to take care of Danielle (Ashley Edner). Immediately, Miranda witnesses over-parenting; Danielle’s mother has a fully indexed binder ready for the babysitter, a binder containing the daughter’s allergies, phobias, what she is allowed to eat and what she can watch on TV. With everything laid out so clearly, it looks like Miranda has an easy night ahead of her.
The pot begins to boil when Miranda encounters Danielle’s vast collection of realistic dolls. From there, the girl starts acting up, pretending the dolls are alive and ready to hurt her. The babysitter turns to her textbook to psychoanalyze Danielle and understand her increasingly bizarre behavior. In any other situation, it would just be a child using fantasy to cope with reality. Of course, there is more to the story than has been said or shown.
Soon, Danielle’s outbursts get more and more intense, and the dolls mysteriously disappearing from their cases don’t help matters either. Watching the dolls then pop up all over the house is unnerving, not to mention where “The collection” heads. The episode’s big twist isn’t exactly shocking once it hits the ground with a thump, but it’s a satisfying shake-up of traditional roles in these kinds of stories.
Popstar Jessica Simpson’s stunt cast never overshadows the episode itself, and despite some dodgy dialogue and chintzy dolls, “The Collection” stands out in the 2000s revival. It’s both heartbreaking and funny. This show relied heavily on the macabre side of The twilight zone canon rather than being overly preoccupied with social experiments or moral messages, and compared to other episodes, this one eagerly seizes on the horror element.
Room 104 (2017-2020)
As one of the most diverse anthologies of recent years shows, Room 104 touched on horror from time to time. And based on the first episode, that’s what audiences expected but rarely received. Nevertheless, “Ralphieis a fantastic start to this unique and bizarre series.
Melonia Diaz plays Meg, who is hired to babysit a boy in a motel room (also the show’s one and only setting). While the father (Ross Partridge) went out for the night, Ralph (Ethan Kent, Gavin Kent) opens up to his babysitter about Ralphie. Meg naturally thinks this is standard behavior for children; the boy invents an imaginary friend to face his life. The more she talks to Ralph, however, the more Meg realizes that something is wrong with him and this whole situation.
Throughout the episode, the bathroom first becomes a source of dread for the audience, then later for Meg. One minute Ralph is talking to Meg, the next Ralphie comes out of the bathroom so he can attack the babysitter. The story goes from laid back to chaotic before finally delivering a shocking outcome.
This anthology goes in many directions, many of which are totally off-kilter. “Ralphie,” as the first outing in the series, is a tough act to follow. It gets crazy in the end, and this ambiguous conclusion is still debated to this day.
series of scares is a recurring column that primarily focuses on horror on television. Specifically, it takes a closer look at five episodes or stories — each adhering to an overarching theme — from different anthology series or the occasional made-for-TV movie. As anthologies become popular again, especially on TV, it’s a great time to see what this timeless mode of storytelling has to offer.