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Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
Director:
John Harrison John Harrison
Starring:
Debbie Harry Debbie Harry
Christian Slater Christian Slater
David Johansen David Johansen
William Hickey William Hickey
James Remar James Remar

6.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Horror, Horror Anthology, Mummy Movie, Supernatural Horror, Cats
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Review by Chad
Added: October 08, 2007
Truth be told, I never watched the Tales from the Darkside television series. I know, I know, you fine readers have lost all faith in me as a horror reviewer, but it simply never came on any of the channels that I had available, and by the time the Sci-Fi Channel started airing reruns, I had turned my cable off. Tack on to that the fact that the series still hasn't shown up on DVD yet, and I think that I have a fairly valid excuse. However, I do love me a good horror anthology film, so when I saw Tales from the Darkside: The Movie laying in the bargain bin for the low price of just five bucks, I had to pick it up. After having watched it, I can safely say that it does indeed deserve the unofficial title of Creepshow 3 that fans and filmmakers alike have attributed to it.

We kick things off with the obligatory wraparound story, a story which features Deborah Harry as a cannibal housewife who has a young boy chained up in her pantry. She plans to cook and eat him later tonight in what turns out to be a Hansel & Gretel'ish story, but this boy buys himself some time by telling Mrs. Harry stories out of a collection of horror tales. This leads us into the "meat" of the movie: three tales of terror with varying degrees of success.

Lot 249
Andy (Christian Slater) and Lee (Robert Sedgwick) are best friends in college who also share a little secret: along with some help from Andy's sister Susan (Julianne Moore), the two have cheated a fellow student out of some grant money. Bellingham (Steve Buscemi), the guy who got cheated, may or may not know that these lovable chaps have swindled him out of his much-needed cash, but he has a little secret of his own: he's just purchased "Lot 249", a sarcophagus that houses an ancient mummy. The kicker? This mummy comes complete with a scroll that will bring it back to life so that it can do its master's bidding.

The first story features the biggest names of the film, but it's also the weakest entry. Funny how that works, isn't it? While not a bad story by any means, it's simply a case of "been there, done that"; after all, how many times have we seen this exact same storyline played out? Every mummy movie features this same plot or a minor variation of it, and although this story did have some things going for it - some familiar faces and some interesting performances as well as some good gore effects - it simply didn't do a whole lot for me. Worth a watch, but I'll probably skip over it if I ever pop this DVD in again. 5/10.

Cat From Hell
Drogan (William Hickey) is a man with a problem in this tale which was based on the short story by Stephen King. His problem? There's a black cat that he believes has murdered three people in his very house, and with that in mind, he hires a professional hitman (David Johansen) to take care of his feline problems. The hitman laughs at the old man's story, of course, but when he's offered a hundred grand just to kill a pesky cat, the laughter quickly dies off and he breaks out the big guns. Trouble is, this is no ordinary cat...

Cat From Hell was a whole "hell" of a lot better than the opening story, but it wasn't the best of the bunch either (that honor is saved for the third and final tale). The strength of this one has to be the banter between the two leading men as the problem and the back story is discussed, and of course, there's also that final scene where the cat... well, I won't spoil it, but that was certainly a memorable scene. I did enjoy this one, but I have to say that the story sort of loses some steam once William Hickey exits the picture midway through and it never really picks back up until the closing moments. Good, and better than the last story, but not great. 7/10.

Lover's Vow
The final story finds Preston (James Remar), a down-on-his-luck artist, heading out to the local bar to drown his sorrows in alcohol. He manages to keep chugging them down until closing time, at which point, the owner of the bar offers to give him a ride home. As they're locking up and leaving the bar, however, a huge gargoyle appears out of nowhere and decapitates the owner and then attempts to do the same to poor Preston. In an act of mercy just before delivering the deathblow, this beast speaks to Preston and tells him that it'll let him live on one condition: he is to never mention this incident, and he's never to describe the appearance of this beast to anyone. Preston readily agrees, of course, and runs on home... and along the way, he meets a young lady (Rae Dawn Chong) that he quickly falls in love with. The two hit it off instantly, get married, and even have a couple of kids, but there's always that little secret hanging over Preston's head...

Easily the best of the bunch, and that can largely be attributed to one little thing: the monster effects. I fell in love with that beast the second it popped on screen, and although it did lose a little of its charm once we got an extreme closeup of the face, I have to say that that beast was easily the most memorable thing of the entire film. The rest of the story keeps the viewer's interest as well, as the two leading characters have a great chemistry together and the entire thing just moves along at a perfect pace. We watching at home know that he's going to eventually spill the beans, and we also know that at that time, there will be hell to pay... but what will happen? That suspense keeps it moving along, and again, I have to say that I enjoyed this one the most. 9/10.

So, after averaging the three scores together, we wind up with a final score of 7/10. I'm tempted to knock a point off for the hideously bad ending with the wraparound story, but a 6/10 just doesn't seem right for this one, so I'm just going to stick with the average and call it a day.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 10/08/2007, 06:09 PM
I used to rent this every Halloween when I was a kid. I loved it. Not sure how I'd feel about it now, but I'd say a 7/10 sounds right.
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