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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 25%
Just Average66.67%
Pretty Crappy: 4.17%
Sucks: 4.17%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
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by J. K. Radtke

"Scary this film isn't. Now funny ... that's a whole different issue."
3 stars

For all of its star power, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie does little to bolster new interest in the mid-80's horror anthology. It does, however, succeed in lots of unintentional hilarity, which is always fun!

Fourteen years ago, somebody had the bright idea to make a horror anthology film based upon the popular mid-80’s horror anthology television series, “Tales from the Darkside.” If you don’t remember “Tales from the Darkside,” don’t feel bad. Amongst the myriad of horror anthology television series that had their way with the boob tube during the 80’s, "Tales from the Darkside" often found itself bringing up the rear. Of course, when you’re competition is “Ray Bradbury Theatre,” “The Hitchhiker,” “Monsters,“ “Tales from the Crypt,“ and “The Twilight Zone,” you’re probably going to have your ass handed to you. It also didn’t help that the scariest thing about the show was the killer opening credit sequence that featured multiple shots of heavily wooded areas, capped off with the last shot meshing with a nifty infrared color scheme. Combine that with a creepy score, and you’ve got yourself one of the scariest openers in the game!

But, if playing second fiddle to “The Hitchhiker” and “Ray Bradbury Theatre” on the small-screen wasn’t bad enough, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie picked up on the big-screen where it’s small-screen counterpart left off … successfully taking a backseat in script, execution, and overall quality to its peers.

Fortunately for them … I like to ride in the backseat!

The film tells three stories through the narrative of little Matthew Lawrence, kid brother to “Blossom” boy-toy, Joey Lawrence, and horror film veteran thanks to his roll in the late 80’s electricity gone loco flick, Pulse, and later the Scream-style high school slasher, Big Monster on Campus. Here, Matt plays the soon-to-be-dinner victim of sadistic party hostess, Deborah Harry (yes, THAT Deborah Harry) who intends on serving him as her main course that evening. While shopping for supplies, Debbie leaves Matt with a book of scary stories to keep him company. The book? You guess it: Tales from the Darkside. When Debbie returns, Matt begins telling her stories to keep her from sealing his fate.

The first story is called, “Lot 249.” Starring Christian Slater, Julianne Moore, and Steve Buscemi, “Lot 249” is merely Creepshow 2’s “Old Chief Wood’nhead” dressed up in a half-rotten rubber mummy suit. Bad acting, corny dialogue, plot holes, and awful special effects make this little ditty one of the most craptastic tales ever told in any film. Fortunately, the star power being thrown around in this story is enough to watch it … if only so you can see three great actors at the lowest point in their careers.

The second story is called, “Cat From Hell.” I was most looking forward to “Cat From Hell” for two reasons: First, its cast included David “Buster Poindexter” Johansen as a hitman, and William “Death Incarnate … until he died” Hickey as a billionaire drug Czar; second, the story stemmed from a short written by Stephen King, and later adapted to screen by George A. Romero. Serving as the most “intentionally” comedic tale of the three, Hickey quickly departs for the city, leaving us to watch Johansen hunt a black cat Hickey believes has been sent to kill him. Johansen’s acting is fun and loose, and the camera tricks (filming from the cat’s perspective) thought not innovative, help craft a rather whimsical atmosphere to the piece. Definitely a step up from the first story.

But the last story, “Lover’s Vow” is by far the best of the bunch. Starring James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong (with special guest appearance by comedic legend, Robert Klein), “Lover’s Vow” combines great acting, cinematography, script, and average special effects to make a truly classic tale. Remar is a struggling artist living in a massive loft downtown. On the night his agent (Klein) drops him due to poor art sales, Remar witnesses his bartender buddy get ripped to shreds by a large, winged beast. The beast then corners Remar, and says it will spare his life in exchange for a promise. Remar agrees, and thus begins the short tale of love and tragedy. It was this story that stuck with me the first time I saw this film as a youngster, and I’m happy to say that fourteen years later, it still holds up.

The end of the film sees the story between Matthew and Deborah play out to rather predictable means. In what the filmmakers dubbed, “The Wraparound Story,” Matt and Debbie play off each other well, but are ultimately given too little to really showcase their talents. Of course, I’m not torn up they didn’t get more, as I was ready to see this beast end after “Lover’s Vow.”

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is, without a doubt, every bit as corny and unbelievable as its television sister. Thankfully, where the first story falls flat, the latter too serve to really punch up the film, and make it better than it should have been. Blessed with an all-star cast, I’d recommend this film to anyone with a love for cheeseball horror anthologies.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6855&reviewer=386
originally posted: 11/30/04 17:32:34
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User Comments

7/04/19 morris campbell not bad but not the best 4 stars
2/17/08 cdmtx yeah ...well ... its ok 3 stars
3/20/07 action movie fan decent anthonlgy-lover,s vow the best of the three 3 stars
8/16/05 ES Three good stories wrapped in a outer tale of cannibalism= what's not to love 4 stars
5/13/05 Joe Movie of been better if it was 4 or 5 stories! But cool KILLS! 4 stars
12/08/04 frosty Meh. Lukewarm. 3 stars
12/01/04 Al Guy Not that scary, but fun. 4 stars
10/29/04 Irene A. Norris Loved this movie-especially the last story. 4 stars
8/15/03 J The stories aren't scary, but you will some fun especially the cat that die. 4 stars
1/14/03 Grover Holland It's better in my memory. That cat story is terminally dull and there's not much horror 2 stars
1/14/03 Charles Tatum Scott is right, just kind of there 3 stars
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  04-May-1990 (R)



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