Is “The Casavin Curse” as scary as I remember?
For a lot of us, especially those who were younger, horror in the 80s was wrapped up in Tales from the Darkside as much as it was the video store shelf. The problem was, most of the time the only thing really, truly creepy in the episodes were the opening and closing themes (and those are still effective as hell!). Watching the show now as an adult, that’s apparent, but it was apparent to elementary school Me as well. There were, however, a couple of exceptions—episodes that either creeped me out or flat out scared the shit out of me. “The Casavin Curse” was one such episode. Adding to the mystery of this installment was that I only ever saw it once. I watched it at my cousin’s house one Saturday night. And it really, truly, deeply scared me. And then I never saw it again, not on TV, not on VHS, not when it was being syndicated on SyFy (then SciFi). I even managed to I guess be asleep when Joanna watched it when we were going through the DVD seasons a couple years ago.
So we watched it again recently.
It was weird how accurate my memories from 30 years ago were. I did not specifically remember that Gina Casavin was played by Vera from Friday the 13th Part 3 (or, since she apparently has a real name: Catherine Parks). But pretty much everything else kicking around in my head was spot on.
The story centers around a rich heiress, Gina, and her cousin Nicholas. Their family, many years ago, was cursed by a gypsy. Per the curse, no one in their family could ever love again. And if they did, their lover would die. So, the story opens on Gina in her bedroom with her dead lover. The cops are there and she’s confessed to the murder. They don’t believe that a little thing like Gina coulda done this. The guy who strangled this dude had to be built like a gorilla. There’s a psychiatrist, Dr. Webster, who’s helping the police. Gina ends up relaying the story of the curse to Dr. Webster. He doesn’t believe her of course, and ultimately, he’s just trying to get down with her. Cousin Nicholas is also trying to get down with her. His reasoning is that they are not in love, so they can be together without inciting the curse. Oh, and they have like a servant kinda woman named Miranda. By the end, Gina and Dr. Webster consummate their “love”, Gina wolfs out and stabs the dude with the dagger housed above her bed, Cousin Nicholas shows up, gets pissed, gets killed and Miranda is revealed to be the great-great-granddaughter of the gypsy who cursed the Casavin family. And with the events of this evening, the Casavin family ceases to exist.
So, this episode does not really, you know, scare me now. And really, it’s clear that the only thing that scared me as a kid is the final scene where Gina, in demon garb—she also has claws, is killing Dr. Webster. It’s still a fun watch and is really a pretty violent, gory Darkside entry, but in a way, I kinda regret revisiting it. There are so few movies/shows that genuinely frightened me over the years, it was fun having that memory, untainted by my adult eyes, to hold on to. But for better or worse, three decades later, I put that childhood fear to bed—just not Gina’s bed. Cuz she woulda murdered the shit out of it.