Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

Directed by:
John Harrison

The popular Tales From the Darkside TV series was produced from 1984 to 1988 but lasted for awhile in syndication and is still being shown on late-night cable to this day. I remember as a kid being scared each and every week by that awesomely creepy opening credit sequence, which has unfortunately been dropped here. This feature film spin-off has no actual connection to the series since the show consisted of 22-minute shorts that didn't relate to one another from episode to episode, anyway. Here, the production values are much, much higher and the tales themselves are much more polished. Looking back at episodes of the TV series it's a bit startling how cheap it all looked back then. Director John Harrison had worked on the series and on some Romero movies. "Lot 249," the first tale, features Christian Slater and two future stars (Julianne Moore as a bitch and Steve Buscemi as a geek) being menaced by a reanimated mummy. It's pretty standard fare with some OK gore effects (including brains being yanked out of nostrils) and was based on a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle (adapted by Michael McDowell). "Cat From Hell," which features a family cursed by a killer cat is loosely based on a Stephen King short story (adapted by George A. Romero). David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) and William Hickey star, there are flashbacks, some gory scenes and a few genuine surprises.

"Lover's Vow" has been written off as a rip-off of one of the stories in KWAIDAN, but it's fairly well done, anyway. James Remar is good as a struggling NYC artist who acquires good fortune after a gargoyle spares his life, in exchange for a promise. Rae Dawn Chong is the mysterious woman who enters his life and who he falls in love with. The acting is very good and there's outstanding make-up and FX work here. McDowell scripted again, based on his own original (?) short story. Linking threads involve a whiny little boy (Matthew Lawrence) who tells a cheerful suburban cannibal housewife (Deborah Harry) the above mentioned tales in an effort to avoid being her dinner.



spookyx3 said...

the stories are too pat, and the one that had guesswork involved was immediately obvious. still far better than laurel's godawful CREEPSHOW 2 for managing to retain part of the feel of its antecedant. in a strange instance of synchronicity, the same week i saw this, i also took in THE SQUEEZE (1987). both films featured rae dawn chong getting caught up with a loft dwelling artist.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

It's been ages since I've seen this so methinks it is time for a another viewing here soon. I agree with you for the most part on Creepshow 2. I loved it as a kid but the last time I watched it I had a hard time making it through. The only segment I liked was 'The Raft.'

spookyx3 said...

> Darkside TV series

did you have a favorite episode? i was gifted the DVD sets last year and have been going back through them in order. big fun. just finished up with season 3.

and yeah, i'm going to look at CREEPSHOW 2 again soon. hopefully the HD format will give it a positive boost.

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