on 29 October 2012
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) is a spin-off movie of the original TV series, Tales from the Darkside (1983). It is from the original team who brought you Creepshow (1982): Stephen King, George A. Romero, Richard P. Rubenstein, and John Harrison. The film was originally going to be titled Creepshow 3, according to special effects make-up artist, Tom Savini; although this is only a rumour. It is a portmanteau - or anthology - film within the horror genre.
The film begins with the wraparound story, a tale about a young boy, Timmy (Matthew Lawrence) who is kidnapped by a crazed suburban housewife (Deborah Harry) and locked in a cellar whilst she prepares dinner for her guests (Timmy is to be the main course). In order to stall her, Timmy begins reading the first of three stories from a book she has left him to read, a book she loved as a child.
The first story is called Lot 249 and is based upon a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle; it is adapted by Michael McDowell. Two university students, Susan (Julianne Moore) and Lee (Robert Sedgwick), cheat fellow student Bellingham (Steve Buscemi) out of a scholarship by framing him for the theft of a valuable artefact. Bellingham's roommate - Susan's brother - Andy (Christian Slater) discovers that an ancient mummy Bellingham has purchased can be brought back to life. Bellingham seeks revenge for being set up by the two lovers, whilst at the same time, Andy has his own revenge plans for Bellingham.
The second story, The Cat From Hell, is based on a short tale by Stephen King and is directed by George A. Romero. In this segment a miserly millionaire, Drogan (William Hickey), has spent his life running a pharmaceutical company that produce drugs for people with heart conditions. His main test subjects are cats. He lives with his two sisters and a servant in a large and old mansion, and one day a black cat turns up on their doorstep. One-by-one they die in unusual circumstances, and the black cat always seems to be around when each death occurs, until only Drogan is left. He hires Halston (David Johansen), a professional hitman to kill the cat.
The final story, Lover's Vow, is written by Michael McDowell and is about an artist, Preston (James Remar), who hasn't been selling any work for a long time. One night he is almost killed by a winged monster. The creature allows him to live as long as he never tells or shows anyone what he has witnessed. Shortly after he runs into a beautiful woman, Carola (Rae Dawn Chong), who is stranded in the city and invites her back to his apartment where it is safe. She turns out to have connections in the art world; the two get married and have children, and Preston begins selling his work again. But he decides he will tell Carola what he witnessed that night.
The epilogue returns to the wraparound story and young Timmy is still locked in the cellar. He tries to persuade the suburban witch to listen to a few more stories from her favourite book, but she informs Timmy it is time for him to go in the oven or he will not be ready in time for when her friends arrive for dinner. Timmy must try and find a way to escape.
Tales from the Darkside is directed by John Harrison and Produced by Richard P. Rubenstein. It is a quality horror anthology, right up there with the original Creepshow. I have compiled the following anthologies for your interest: Dead of Night (1945), The Twilight Zone (1959), Tales from the Crypt (1972), From Beyond the Grave (1974), Night Gallery (1969), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Vault of Horror (1973), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Hammer House of Horror (1980), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Nightmares (1983), The Twilight Zone (1985), The Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Friday the 13th the Series (1987), Freddy's Nightmares (1988), Tales from the Crypt (1989), Tales from the Hood (1995), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Twilight Zone (2002), Masters of Horror (2005), Creepshow 3 (2006), Nightmares & Dreamscapes (2006), Trapped Ashes (2006), Masters of Science Fiction (2007), Trick 'r Treat (2007), and Fear Itself (2008). There are many more available.
Just a disclaimer: I have never seen any of the "Tales of the Darkside," so I'm judging the movie purely on its own merits.
And while I'm not much of an anthology-movie person, a brief glimpse of "Tales of the Darkside" on TV was all it took to make me hunt down the original movie. The second story has a rather ridiculous climax, but otherwise these three stories are brilliant little horror nuggets, starring black cats, mummies and mysterious women.
The framing story is that a young boy has been kidnapped and caged by a refined suburban witch (Debbie Harry). She plans to eviscerate and roast him for a dinner party she's giving, but he manages to delay her by reading stories from a book she left in the cage.
"Lot 249": A graduate student named Bellingham (played by Steve Buscemi) has been cheated out of a valuable scholarship by a spoiled rich boy (Robert Sedgwick) and his cruel girlfriend (Julianne Moore). But when he uncovers a scroll hidden in the body of an ancient mummy, Bellingham finds a way to unleash revenge on those who have wronged him...
"Cat From Hell": An elderly pharmaceutical magnate named Drogan (William Hickey) hires a hit man (David Johansen) to destroy his greatest enemy: a black cat that he claims has killed three people. The hit man thinks it's stupid, but agrees. But as the night wears on, he finds it difficult to kill the cat -- and soon discovers that he might end dying instead.
"Lover's Vow": A struggling artist (James Remar) witnesses a grotesque gargoyle viciously murder a man, and is only allowed to live when the creature demands a promise of eternal silence about what he has seen. He almost immediately meets a beautiful woman (Rae Dawn Chong), marries her, and even has kids with her -- but has no idea what will happen if he ever breaks his promise.
One of the reasons I usually don't like anthology movies is because they tend to be very mixed bags, and the bad tends to distract me from the good. "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" is not like that -- all three stories (and the framing device) are very good. Not quite brilliant, but good horrific fun.
There are a few flaws, though -- the climax of "Cat From Hell" is... a little silly. Without revealing too much, it involves a cat crawling down a guy's throat. And "Lover's Vow"'s twist is predictable.
But the stories themselves are excellent. The first is a gritty, slightly cheesy tale of mummies and revenge; the second is a more cartoonish, almost Tim-Burtonesque story that has you cheering for the homicidal cat; and the third is a surprisingly tragic story that echoes of classic fairy tales (and leaves you wishing something else would have happened).
And it has some very nice performances, including some well-known actors like Steve Buscemi and a pre-fame Julianne Moore (who plays the icy mean-girl very nicely), as well as James Remar and David Johansen. And Debbie Harry is just delightful as a casual, practical woman in a nice normal upper-class neighborhood... who just happens to be a "Hansel and Gretel"-style wicked witch.
"Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" is a thoroughly solid collection of tales, which are all spooky in different ways. A fun little movie for Halloween.
on 20 July 2015
What A Brilliant opportunity to bring Darkside to the Big Screen, and Boy! is it Wasted. The Stories are Rubbish with only The Cat From Hell Segment holding your interest but even the wraparound story is Garbage. The Effects are half decent but that's really all its got going for it. A Terrible misfire of Lazy Writing.
on 8 July 2011
Tales From The Darkside is the movie Tom Savini called "the real Creepshow 3", it's a fun film in similar vein to that of Creepshow 1 and 2 and had Stephen King and George A. Romero involved. In truth it was never intended to be Creepshow 3, it was actually based on the television show Tales From The Darkside that ran between 1983-1988, and King and Romero were only involved in one of the three stories.
The film opens with the wraparound story that stars Blondie's Deborah Harry as a woman who is planning on cooking a young boy in a nod to Hansel and Gretel, in a bid to stall her the young boy tells her three ghastly tales. The first tale is about revenge involving a Mummy and it stars a young looking Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater and Julianne Moore. Secondly there is the Stephen King based story with George Romero doing the screenplay, it's another take on Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat and stars William Hickey in his usual "cantankerous old man" role and David Johansen as a hitman. James Remar gives a good performance in the third and best of the tales, he stars as a struggling artist who meets the Rae Dawn Chong character and his life seems to be perfect, it will stay that way if he can keep a promise he made. This tale is very similar to one of the segments in the wonderful Japanese horror anthology called Kwaidan. The wraparound story ends the film nicely with a touch of humour that is sprinkled throughout the movie.
It isn't particularly scary or humorous, but it does mix enough of both to work. There's enough well known faces in the movie to ensure the acting is of a pretty high standard, Deborah Harry did well considering she's far better known for her singing. The film has a fair amount of blood and gore without being over the top, there's a quick scene with Dawn Chong's breasts but nudity is in short supply. I prefer films to have less gore and nudity if it's replaced by good writing and acting, this film does that.
Tales From The Darkside wasn't nearly as successful as Creepshow but did make nearly $16,500,000 from a $3,500,000 budget, there's a reason it wasn't as successful because it isn't as creepy or funny as Creepshow, but it's on about the same level as Creepshow 2. Sadly there aren't many of these horror anthology movies made anymore, if you like Creepshow 1 and 2, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Cat's Eye, Body Bags or the excellent old Amicus anthologies, then you'll probably enjoy Tales From The Darkside. Not the best anthology movie of those mentioned, but very enjoyable.
on 15 February 2015
Bought this for my partner and excellent movie to watch, we both loved it. I would really recommend.
on 17 April 2016
Seen this years ago , was ok but hasn't aged well I think.
on 25 February 2014
1990 was a sad year in two draining ways-whilst the irritants and excesses of the decade just gone would disappear, sadly too, did the two best things it had on prodigious offer: its music artists and its dazzling array of horror films, both things no other decade has managed in such quality, abundance or variety ever before or since. So while the downturn in both was indecently showcased in the 'charts' and on video shelves markedly, a few quality horror films managed to slip through, most notably 'The Guardian', the 'Gremlins' sequel and this nifty little anthology of terror that actually made a satisfyingly successful stab at box office proceeds for Paramount that year, where it actually finished third in its opening weekend, proof, perhaps, that it, unlike music, would possibly sleep for a while, then awake anew further down the decade, which it did, but tastes and times had reshaped it into a more stylised yet rigid and often uniformed product that catered to new taste as opposed to all tastes.
I feel I should explain my truly high rating here, as the amazon star system doesn't quite click with common sense. This does not displace 'Creepshow' as the definitive anthology of the 80's, but matches it perfectly. Both score a high-kicking 9/10 from me, but as this tips it nearer to the full 5 treatment than a merely 'likeable' 4 amazon stars, so does my scoring. And elevates it above the older 'Tales From The Crypt' as well, which, while good, wouldn't quite go as far as an 80's creative team, unafraid of putting ANYTHING out there to shock and please us. Many would hold up 'Creepshow' as better than 'Darkside', but while it blazed the trail, it did have two more immediate struggles 'Darkside' thankfully lacked; firstly the wraparound story of 'Creepshow' featured an irritating and hateful little brat whom I wanted dead the minute he was onscreen, and his father was an equally overdone annoyance, and the acting from both highly questionable in the passable stakes. The other problem was the segment Stephen King himself appeared in, but of later viewings, I've have found this bit quite affecting and certainly amusing, so this can be dropped as one.
Anyone also puzzled by any comparison beyond the anthology link, therefore thinking 'Creepshow' a far more loftier piece, may be stifled into hiccups if they didn't already know that, not only has 'Tales From The Darkside: The Movie' been referred to as 'Creepshow 3' quite often through the 90's, but Tom Savini himself, make-up wizard from 'Creepshow' and Romero movies, has actually called it so! Furthermore, one of the story segments-'Cat From Hell', written by King, was originally intended to be part of the second and highly disappointing 'Creepshow' sequel, but mercifully struck out, miring it into even more resistant sludge. Director John Harrison wasn't just a clear lover of the genre, he'd actually served as first assistant director to Romero on 'Creepshow', having struck up a longstanding friendship with him, composing the score to the movie also; later he would do the same for the 'Tales From The Darkside' TV show, prior to this movie, so I feel that this being referred to in the 'Creepshow' line apt and fitting, yet happy to testify this isn't so-as evidence of how quickly they dived into the sewer after the first. The second vied for worst horror of 1986, it was so disturbingly far from everything the first so strikingly displayed, but as there are films I haven't yet seen, there may well be worse out there, and whilst not a horror film, though sometimes incorrectly billed as one (oh, how today of you all!), 'Trick Or Treat' sucked worse, as did the following year's 'Rawhead Rex' and the even more terrible 1988 offering 'Demonwarp', ending on 1989's abysmal 'The Puppet Master', but worst than all, must be the vomit bag of pointlessness and desperation that actually got stamped with the 'Creepshow 3' tag and sneaked out to universal dismissal not too many years ago! Well, it had to happen didn't it, but who actually cared?
'Tales' features 4 stories, the wraparound being utterly superior to the linking material flowing through the five 'Creepshow' tales, with a far better kid, and Blondie star Deborah Harry as a pleasingly dead-eyed suburban witch who's abducted him to cook him Hansel And Gretel style, and it's a scream to see the cell she's adapted to house him while she tries the maths to tell her how long he should cook for. She blows her barely there role in the older and wretched 'Body Bags' (yet another misstep Mr Carpenter!) out of the water here, wisely just being creepy and amusing, getting far more under our skin than if she was attempting the high-cackling, cauldron-stirring theatrics, not that I'd mind that either, 'Hocus Pocus' being highly enjoyable itself. Whilst she's warming the oven, he regales her with the three horror tales that follow in the hope she'll be eternally put off sizzling him:
*Story 1 being 'Lot 249', concerning a nastily played out tale in a college dormitory, where a student cheated out a scholarship, played by Steve Buscemi, reacts with strong contention and resurrects a mummified corpse to exact his revenge. Adapted from the Arthur Conan Doyle short of the same title, it features Christian Slater in his best horror appearance ever, and deals out another surprise, which almost trumps the brilliant mummy from the screen; the pleasure of seeing a renowned character actor of today in her just 'starting out mode' in a film she'd never since consider for a moment-Mrs Julianne Moore (yet an unnecessary 'Carrie' remake is somehow acceptable these days!):
*Story 2 resurrects the 'Cat From Hell' and boy is it feline fine, visiting the mansion of a wheelchair-clad millionaire whose pharmaceutical empire killed thousands of them over the years, to systematically off the elderly residents living there, the old man himself being the last in line for the final swipe, so has hired a hitman to take the cat down. Alice Drummond, as one of the old ladies, will be recognisable for many guest appearances over the last few decades in her golden years. Be prepared to truly stomach the ghoulishly satisfying end:
*Story 3 'Lover's Vow' is possibly the finest, and based on a certain spirit in Japanese folklore, concern's James Remar's good fortune in being spared his life by a gargoyle-like creature that has killed the publican serving Remar just minutes before closing time. Remar takes a vow to never speak of this night, and once it leaves his lips, his previous downtrodden life literally goes flying-he meets a beautiful woman (Rae Dawn Chong of 'Soul Man' fame), his artist career is revived, and they have two beautiful children, but alas, his secret weighs heavy, and one night, he speaks of it to the mother of his children and in doing shatters his life irreparably. See it to believe it, and the final twist I found surprising and quite lugubrious.
Whilst typically lacking any extras, this should please fans of 'Creepshow', especially anyone disappointed by its embarrassing sequel, and anyone who just loves 80's horrors and laments their general passing, and the dissipated days of the horror anthology as a whole, though I would urge all to snap up 2007's wonderful 'Trick 'R Treat' with an equally well-known cast, an anthology film to tap into the actual folklore of Halloween, rather than just using it to mask up and knife civilians, and not to be confused with the rubbish high-school thriller from 1986 I mentioned above, that doesn't lop of the capital O of 'Or'. Sadly today, the likes of the abhorrent and artistically devoid 'V/H/S/' and sequels are the fashion tool of the fool to dredge up an untouchable format merely to webcam it while everyone goes around killing each other with nothing to suggest any ambiguity of any other sort-I guess you'd call that the Derailed of the Darkside, for want of something pleasanter.
on 7 August 2012
The movie version of the popular series, a collection of four gory stories;
Lot 249 is loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's original tale. It has an excellent cast of then-rising-stars Christian Slater, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi, who play college archeologists who unearth an egyptian mummy in a crate. Needless to say, mummy madness follows, with the creature pulling a brain out of the nose with a long hook, then popping it in the fruit bowl [for some reason]. This is fun, and its worth it for the cast and the gory, but tongue in cheek, effects.
Cat From Hell is written by Stephen King, and has David Hickey as a strange old-timer who has hired a hitman to kill a troublesome cat. Again, this is enjoyable, and I think my kitten was a bit scared of the noises coming from the TV. Watch for the part where the cat is swallowed then regurgitated later. Messy, but interesting, and it reminded me very much of the early 80's portmanteau film THE UNCANNY.
Lovers Vow is about an artist who makes a deal with a demon. It has a clever, but guessable, twist at the end and some greart stop-motion and model work for the demon, which resembles the creature from the 50's classic NIGHT OF THE DEMON. James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong star here.
The framing story has Deborah Harry, who has lured a kid into her house and is going to cook him. He tells the other stories to pass the time and stall her.
The film as a whole is very enjoyable, with a superb cast, and some classic 80's horror effects.
on 24 June 2014
It's really awesome it's everything you liked about the tv series(if you haven't seen the tv series you should because it's fantastic) and then some. Nothing but classic horror.
on 26 April 2012
Tales From the Darkside is a very creepy and enjoyable movie split into three stories.
Forget the boast that there are four stories, as the fourth one involves the traditional intro and ending
to which most if not all anthology films boasted.
The first segment about a mummy is perhaps the weakest. And that is ironic given the fact that it stars both Christian Slater and Steve Busemi. Perhaps they are let down by a timid script and bad actors around them that look as if they had just starred in Freddy's Nightmares or something very similar.
The climax to this segment is very good though.
The next story is about a hitman whose next job is to kill a cat. It's owner believes the cat is responsible for three deaths. This is quite an effective and creepy tale and the climax is pretty gory.
The final story is my favourite and any story that boasts the acting talent of James Remar will be lifted.
Here we have a winged monster that makes a promise with Remar. I won't go into too many details, but this is a great story.
Overall then Tales From the Darkside is certaintly worth the purchase. It's not of course the best anthology series you could get, but once you get past the first story it is highly enjoyable. Ultimately it works because it retains it's sheer creepiness until the final reel.