TFTD Marathon: “The Cutty Black Sow”


Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! One of the great things about folklore is the number of interesting stories born from myths and legends. Some of the greatest involve creatures or wandering spirits, which sometimes gain prominence during the Halloween season. Today’s tale focuses on an evil, legendary spirit. This is “The Cutty Black Sow.”

Jamie’s great grandmother is on her deathbed and could go at any minute. Before she dies, she warns him to protect himself on Halloween from the destructive Scottish spirit known as the Cutty Black Sow. Jamie, having recorded his grandmother’s last words on how to shield himself from the spirit, immediately takes this to heart and makes preparations before Halloween night. Will Jamie be able to keep himself and his family out of harm’s way, or does the Cutty Black Sow have a few tricks up its sleeve?

I have mixed feelings about this episode. I liked the idea of using a folklore tale that is tied to Halloween, and the house is later lit dimly to set the mood. The opening with the great grandmother was rough, as her acting was high-pitched and borderline hammy, but her scene with Jamie later was good if not a little exposition-y. The dialogue is okay for the most part, though there were some parts that made Jamie sound a little too much like an adult rather than a kid. But I thought the make-up on the Cutty Black Sow was lame and the entire ending (more on that later) wasn’t pulled off well. There are even points where bagpipe music is put in either with the great grandmother or to signal that the Cutty Black Sow might pop up. Bagpipe music tends to grate normally, so it was pretty distracting here and took away from the mood some.

Since the great grandmother is mainly for exposition and the parents aren’t a big factor in this, I’ll instead talk about the two kids, Jamie and Gloria. Of the two, I thought Jamie was the better actor, though there were times where he seemed flat in tone and didn’t express all that often. The scene with his great grandmother was probably the best example of him actually expressing an emotion, but he seemed to be going for either calm or dull surprise when things got scary. Still, he was at least tolerable, unlike Gloria. I couldn’t decide if the actress was trying to emote or just couldn’t act. The only emotion I tended to get from her was semi-screechy whining, but thankfully this episode focuses more on Jamie so she’s in the background more often than not.

As for that ending I mentioned… I hate to say it, but it was pretty bad. One of the issues with the episode is that we learn how to protect against the Cutty Black Sow, but there’s not a lot of history given about it. We learn it’s a mean, destructive spirit that likes to wreak havoc on Halloween and will destroy anyone who’s not protected, but I would’ve liked just a bit more to consider it a bigger threat. I’m not even sure I can consider what happens at the very end an actual twist because of that lack of insight. In fact, it actually left me confused.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend “The Cutty Black Sow.” I liked the atmosphere they set up and the legend was interesting for what little we got. The acting was sometimes wooden but alright and the characters were fine. But the story could’ve used some fine tuning and that “twist” ending was poorly executed. I’ve still got two more Halloween-themed episodes to check out, so hopefully those will fare better.

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