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"Tales from the Darkside" Answer Me (1985)

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Answer Me

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
2 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can understand why others reacted rather unpleasantly towards the climax yielding a twist that really is hard to take seriously. I think, though, that the build-up to it works rather well. The music, quite menacing and spine-tingling, really provides a spooky aura matching the unforgiving sound of a constant ringing telephone that is driving struggling English actress, Joan Matlin(Jean Marsh)bonkers. She's borrowing a pal's nice apartment while attempting to jump-start her career in New York City(..the city buildings outside the window look about as realistic as David Letterman's)and is unceremoniously welcome by a noisy telephone which rings quite a bit, followed by loud slams against the wall. Searching for answers regarding the one responsible for such disregard towards her sanity, Joan discovers that no one rents that room, and that a former tenant had in fact strangled herself. Without help from the manager, Joan will decide to find out for herself who is causing her such anguish. Joan discovers the room empty and the phone with a particular female voice which will haunt her.

The episode, I think, is a tour-de-force for Jean Marsh who is a one woman show. She's the only actress visible and we follow her through the crisis which slowly erodes her, the phone and the banging from that other room causing her much distress which grows into fear. Instead of leaving, Joan remains, so shaken by the noise and to the breaking point where she just wishes for the phone(..or whoever is ringing)to stop. The episode provides a possible answer as to who is plaguing Joan and why. A character named Beth comes into the story rather late as Joan struggles to find out whose female voice it was across the other line who knew her name on that dreaded phone she discovers in the room across from hers. The fate of Beth might just tell the viewer why Joan is being traumatized. I think this episode is an exercise in spooks instead of credibility;some didn't particularly like it, but I certainly did. I will admit that the phone, as a physical menace "crawling" towards Joan is hard to take seriously, not to mention it's attack on her, but I thought the intense opening twenty minutes before this were suitably chilling enough to make up for it.

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Tense and intriguing episode

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
19 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Down on her luck English actress Joan Matlin (an excellent performance by Jean Marsh) lives in a sublet apartment in Manhattan. However, Joan starts to lose it because of a neighbor's constantly ringing phone. Director Richard Friedman, working from a quirky and compelling script by Michael McDowell, not only milks plenty of suspense from the unusual premise and claustrophobic setting, but also ably creates a strong sense of mounting hysteria that gets more freaky and unnerving as the plot unfolds towards a startling surprise downbeat ending. Moreover, the story offers a nice blend of sharp offbeat humor and absorbing mystery. A one woman show, Marsh's intense and energetic acting really keeps things humming. A neat episode.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Be careful say no one at home and don't answer the phone!

Author: Danny Blankenship from Petersburg, Virginia
25 November 2008

This "TFTD" episode from season one titled ironically "Answer Me" is a pretty well done and memorable episode, and it takes a shocking twist at the end. You have Jean Marsh as an over the hill and washed up actress from L.A. who's moved to New York City for an audition and she's living in an apartment provided by an old friend. Oddly every night she's kept awake by a ringing phone from the next door apartment, yet oddly enough the dwelling where the ringing phone continues to ring is unoccupied as the guests have been dead for many years. Finally she has to give in only she should have followed along and not answered the phone with no one home, as it's bad to get wrapped up in a phone with a life of it's own! Overall good episode a strange one though about a supernatural phone still it's suspenseful and it twists well at the end.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Pointless single-hander

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
18 May 2015

ANSWER ME, episode 15 of season 1 of the '80s TV show TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, is a single-hander starring British stage actress Jean Marsh. She's an odd choice for an appearance in this low budget, cult TV series, one not especially renowned for its quality, but I guess they took on anybody they could.

In any case, ANSWER ME isn't really successful even for the brief running time, with the storyline just too slim to sustain more than a few minutes of footage. In it, a woman in an apartment is irritated and then haunted by the constantly ringing of a phone next door, and of course there's an expected twist in the outcome.

Marsh plays a rather unsympathetic role in this and she's constantly talking to herself, something which quickly becomes irritating. In fact there's little to no suspense, drama, incident or indeed chills in this story, making it almost entirely pointless.

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0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

stupid stupid stupid

Author: ( from Chicago
11 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode had potential. The basic premise of a woman living next door to an empty apartment (but a phone that constantly rings) is somewhat interesting. And when she explores the noise, there is genuine tension and fear. But stupid script writing ruins any promise the episode had.

First of all, the woman readily admits to seeing things that would send most of us running in the other direction (e.g. "It's funny that the door slammed shut even though there is no wind;" "This door has serious damage to it that wasn't here a minute ago;" "The door opened by itself, without me touching it;" etc.). Given these supernatural phenomena, plus the fact that a woman committed suicide in the room, wouldn't she take some precaution before entering it? Maybe she could investigate in the day time. Or maybe she could investigate the apartment with somebody else. Or maybe she could TURN ON THE LIGHTS!!! Also, while in the haunted apartment, she decides to make numerous phone calls to the operator and gets into an argument over who has the power to disconnect the phone, and then they begin discussing the details of the suicide. JUST UNPLUG THE PHONE! The phone company doesn't need to be involved. Walk up to the phone and unplug it. Case closed.

Finally, showing the phone scamper across the floor like it's alive was just comical. If the director wanted the woman to get strangled by the phone card, he could've done it in a way that didn't look cartoony. Brave Little Toaster anyone?

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1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"Unplug your telephone or die..." The most ridiculous twist ending ever!

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
28 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tales from the Darkside: Answer Me starts at just gone 3 O'Clock early one New York morning as aspiring actress Joan Matlin (Jean Marsh) is woken up by the sound of a ringing telephone coming from the apartment next door, whenever Joan is in her apartment the telephone next door constantly rings throughout the day & night, she phones the apartment manager to complain but he claims no-one lives there & the last person who did was found dead after having committed suicide by strangling herself. Joan can't take the constant ringing & decides to go round there & check out just what is going on...

Episode 15 from season 1 this Tales from the Darkside story originally aired in the US during February 1985, the first of four Tales from the Darkside episodes to be directed by Richard Friedman this was doing alright until the absolutely ridiculous twist ending which reveals a living killer telephone! The script by Michael McDowell starts off well enough with a constantly ringing telephone driving Joan crazy & things turns spooky when she finds out there's no explanation for it & at this point Answer Me is quite gripping but the twist ending has to be seen to be believed, I'm sorry but the sight of a living telephone sliding across the floor trying to look menacing & then strangling someone with it's cord is a true laugh out loud moment as it's just so unintentionally funny, in fact I'd go as far as to say it's utterly hilarious. There's no explanation as to why a living telephone (snigger) would want to killer people but if there was that would also probably be downright hilarious.

Right, first off the constant loud shrill ring of the telephone really starts to become annoying after a while, don't forget there's no soft electronic tones here or silly mobile phone ring tones either. This one sounds like a school bell or something & it's just irritating so in that sense it works quite well in the context of the story, however that doesn't mean I want to spend 20 minutes listening to the damned thing. This one tires to be scary & spooky & until the stupid ending it did a decent job however the ending ruins everything good it had done until that point. Answer Me only features one person, the vastly experienced Marsh does OK I suppose.

Answer Me is worth 5 stars just for the hilarious ending, as for the rest of it there's little here to get excited about. Worth watching for the unintentional laugh value.

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7 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Mixed feelings.

Author: Tommy Nelson from Long Beach, California
2 August 2006

In this episode of Darkside we only have one character. One not particularly likable character. That's this episode's downfall. We have a woman that is haunted by an annoying ringer that won't shut up next apartment down. Of course she goes and asks around to find out why the person won't pick it up, and GASP! Nobody lives there, and GASP! the last person who did live there is now dead. The end is a bit stupid and the episode isn't anything special. You could see it coming from a mile away and the episode is too slow and ended up as a forgettable installment in my books.

My rating: Forgettable. 22 mins. TV PG

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