Tom Savini directed this episode of Tales from The Darkside (1984 - 1988), which involves a young student, Gail (Roberta Weiss) who rents a room in the home of prickly old professor, Dr. Fenner (Fritz Weaver).
The officious prig lives alone, he claims. His wife died of cancer, and his daughter is apparently away at graduate school.
At one point, the press reported that the weekly special effects budget for the series was a mere $188.00 dollars.
Here, the economical aspects of the production are evident in the small cast (just two people) and the number of sets, again just two (an attic bedroom and a downstairs foyer).
Yet despite such apparent limitations, director Tom Savini transforms "Inside the Closet" into a veritable horror masterwork.
With imaginative staging and mise-en-scene, he generates a sustained and disturbing atmosphere of terror until the final, macabre revelation. There's very little dialogue in "Inside the Closet," and so Savini relies on two creative elements to create the dark atmosphere.
There's a great silhouette shot of Gail at the eight-minute point, for instance -- pushing into the frame -- as she hears a suspicious noise.
Savini also deploys slow zooms and pull-backs to accent certain important (and portentous) conversations, and even works in a Trilogy of Terror-styled monster-cam./P.O.V. shot.
The story doesn't strive for explanations, grasp for far-fetched, gimmicky twists, or wallow in unnecessary narrative complications. "Inside the Closet" is about a monster in hiding, and the atmosphere of terror that this monster creates for one, unlucky woman.
Finally, we get a surprise shift a perspective and are asked to regard the monster differently...as a child.
And supporting everything here is the universal fear of a closed closet door, and the thing that may or may not lurk inside.
That's plenty of efficacious terrain for a 22-minute story.