Tales from the Darkside – The Madness Room (1985)

“Tales from the Darkside” is a horror series, which tells a different spooky story in each episode.

In the episode “Madness Room” we get introduced to Cathy, a woman who has married a much older and very wealthy man. She likes to dabble with the occult in her free time, which she has a lot of. When she finds out through the Ouija board that the very house she is living in has a hidden room with a horrific past, she is intrigued and determined to find it…




Full Plot:
One stormy night, Cathy, a wealthy woman, is sitting on the couch and reading a book in her house. Her much older husband Edward joins in, but is interrupted by a ringing door bell.

It’s Michael, Edward’s lawyer who came to hand over the final version of Edward’s will. Cathy seems surprised by the visit, but happy about the company and pulls out a Ouija board. Edward thinks it’s silly but gets persuaded into Cathy having her way.

She sits down with Michael and explains that the presiding spirit of the board is called Ben, as in Benjamin Fairchild, the original owner of the house.

They immediately establish contact to Ben. Edward is skeptical and asks where he lives. The planchette spells out “MADNESS ROOM”. Cathy immediately knows what he means, as she did research in the local library. She found out that their house is one of the oldest houses in this part of the country and that it supposedly has a room which is rumored to drive anyone insane who stays in it.

Edward mocks her and wants to know where it is, but she admits that no one knows. She tells the story about Ben’s young wife Ophelia, who stayed in the room over 100 years ago. She supposedly went crazy and shot her husband with a pistol, then grabbed their baby, ran to a well and jumped into it. After that, the room was sealed off.

When Edward asks Ben to tell them where the madness room is, the planchette spells out “FIRE” and “RING”. The three examine the fireplace and find a ring hanging from a lion’s mouth on a brick. Edward removes the brick and finds a folded piece of paper in the hole. The paper turns out to be an old blueprint of the house and is folded around a key.

Slowly, but surely, Edward becomes intrigued and starts studying the blueprint, trying to find the madness room. Cathy and Michael sit down for one last session. The planchette starts moving very fast, spelling out “Scoff at me and damned you’ll be”, “Lock the door behind us four” and “Drop key in crack, the only way back”.

Edward finally finds one room on the blueprint, that he was not aware of and leads Cathy and Michael there.

Click here to unfold the remaining story (SPOILER WARNING)

They knock a hole into the wall with a pickaxe and reveal a door. Cathy wants Edward to step in first and pulls out a gun, explaining that it is for protection. Edward lights an oil lamp to illuminate the dark room, when Cathy remembers Ben’s instructions and makes Edward lock the door.

Cathy finds Ophelia’s diary from the year 1888. The entries describe her urge to make her baby stop crying forever and her descent into insanity. Edward tells her to stop reading, upon which she points the gun at him. He grabs his chest and falls to the ground in severe pain. Michael panics and wants to call a doctor, but Cathy insists that no one is to leave the room. He tries to take away her gun, but she shoots him and he drops dead.

Edward remembers Ben’s instructions and drops the key into a crack in the floor, hoping to break the insanity that has come over his wife. Instead, Cathy puts the gun to her head and we hear a gunshot. She collapses on the lifeless body of Michael.

Just as the plot seem to come to an end, it twists: Michael and Cathy get up and congratulate each other on being geniuses, before giving each other a passionate kiss. It becomes clear that the whole story about Ben and the madness room was nothing but a set up to get rid of Edward and inherit his wealth.

Cathy addresses Edward and explains to him how she had the house remodeled and had an ordinary room refurnished and bolted up when he was in the hospital. He vows to not cooperate and to refuse to die, but Michael grabs a pillow to suffocate him with. Edwards throws the oil lamp, setting the room on fire.

Cathy and Michael try to flee and ask each other where the other key is, but none of them has a copy. They wonder why the other spelled out the message about throwing the key in a crack and learn that it was neither of the two, implying that a ghost might have moved the planchette after all. They fail to flee and suffocate on the smoke.

Lastly, we see an old photograph depicting a man, presumably Benjamin Fairchild, burning up while a sinister, male laugh fills the madness room.

Therese Pare as Cathy Osborne
Stuart Whitman as Edward Osborne
Nick Benedict as Michael Fox

John Hayes

Thomas Epperson

Tales from the Darkside – The Madness Room (1985) on IMDB

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