Garth Marenghi's Darkplace TV Poster Image

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Retro horror parody is creepy, not scary.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This show is all about the occult, which means that characters can be faced with just about anything, at any time, though the basic theme is that good can overcome evil.


A fair amount of gory violence (with lots of blood), and a few rather disturbing images. Even though many of the effects (including the blood) are obviously fake, it's still startling.


No sex or nudity, but plenty of innuendo.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some smoking and drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this creepy show is ultimately a spoof, it has some very disturbing images that are inappropriate for children. Though many of the effects are obviously fake, the copious quantities of blood, the sudden camera angle shifts, and the grating sound effects all combine to create some startling scenes that could give anyone bad dreams.

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What's the story?

In GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE, Marenghi (played by Matthew Holness) is a Stephen King-esque horror writer who once starred in an ill-fated TV series that was never broadcast, Darkplace. Decades later, the show is finally hitting the airwaves, in all its cheesy '80s glory. Marenghi, channeling Masterpiece Theatre, introduces the Darkplace episodes and tells way over-the top behind-the-scenes stories of a production that went very, very wrong. In the show-within-a-show, Holness-as-Marenghi stars as Dr. Rick Dagless, a dashing (in an '80s kind of way, which is now rather repellent) doctor and chief ghost hunter. Marenghi's manager, Dean Learner (Richard Ayoade), also pulls double duty as loyal sidekick Thornton Reed, and Madeleine Wool (Alice Lowe) supplies the necessary love interest as Dr. Liz Asher, a powerful psychic trapped in a frail female body, who tends to faint for no particular reason. As Marenghi reveals, Wool vanished mysteriously during filming and hasn't been heard from since.

Is it any good?


The show is faithful to the '80s mystique, complete with intentionally bad acting, cheap sets, gallons of fake blood, and costumes heavy on the polyester. Much like other horror shows from the period, Darkplace features oddly timed zoom shots and piercing sound effects during dramatic moments, which might be disturbing to some viewers.

It's not quite clear whether this parody is meant to be funny or scary, but it doesn't really matter, because the supposedly terrifying lost Darkplace episodes aren't scary, nor is Garth Marenghi's Darkplace funny, and the overall result isn't much fun to watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about ghosts and telepathic powers. Darkplace Hospital is a magnet for the spirit world, attracting all kinds of demons, ghosts, and spirits, many of whom aren't in a good mood. One of the characters possesses strong psychic abilities, which helps the cast battle evil, but also makes her especially vulnerable to the powers of the underworld. Do you believe in spirits and extrasensory abilities? Why or why not? Families can also talk about the nature of spoofs -- is parodying something a form of mockery or a tribute? Or some of each?

TV details

Premiere date:January 29, 2004
Cast:Alice Lowe, Matthew Holness, Richard Ayoade
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace was written by

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Teen, 15 years old Written bywillbarchi April 9, 2008

Are commonsensemedia completely insane?

The CSM review of darkplace actually made me feel pretty, darn annoyed... They've take then show into a COMPLETLY different context...Its NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SCARY...its supposed to be corny and cheesy, which it manages well (and is very funny!). The violence is overdone and stupid, which adds to the comedy (in the episode 'scotch mist' a possesed bagpipe attacks the main trembling just thinking about it... -.-) Honestly CSM, if you take the media that your supposed to be reviwing fairly and watch it in a way that its not supposed to be viewed, you're going to get an UNFAIR review. You didnt really state that it was supposed to be funny and the review kept mentioning 'young children being disturbed'. This show isn't meant to be watched by 'young children' so why say that? Its probably on at a time where it is IMPOSSIBLE for 'young children' to watch it...In short, the review by CSM is rubbish and unfair, the show is good, and if you watch it, you'll see what i mean! Thanks for reading...