Sunday, October 25, 2020


SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 24
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,836.18

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) d. John Harrison (USA) (93 min) (3rd viewing)

Betty (Blondie's Deborah Harry), an attractive, chipper, middle-aged suburbanite, is making preparations for a dinner party. On the menu: the paperboy Timmy (Matthew Lawrence), who is none too wild about being selected as the main dish. In an effort to keep his host distracted and stave off his time in the roaster pan, the lad reads selections from a collection of stories, entrancing her with tales of mummies and grad students and not-so-dead scrolls, crippled millionaires and hit men and vengeful felines, gargoyles and artists and promises made in the dark….

Harrison, who actually provided the memorable musical score for George A. Romero’s Creepshow in 1982, takes a page from his old boss’ book, settling into the director’s chair for this delightful portmanteau platter which has aged quite well over the past three decades. (Better, in fact, than Creepshow 2, truth be told.) Inspired by the TV series which ran in syndication from 1983-1988 – of which Harrison directed eight episodes – the wraparound story described above establishes the mirthfully macabre tone from the outset and, unlike many anthology pieces, manages to maintain its consistent blend of grins and gross-outs from beginning to end.

Things kick off with “Lot 249,” Arthur Conan Doyle’ short story adapted by series regular Michael McDowell (Beetle Juice), featuring a university nebbish named Bellingham (Steve Buscemi) who’s a little put out at having been passed over for a scholarship in favor of silver spoon-sucking BMOC Lee (Robert Sedgwick). Seems Lee’s girlfriend Susan (future Oscar-winner Julianne Moore, in her big screen debut) framed Bellingham for the theft of a Zuni fetish piece (nice nod to Trilogy of Terror there, Mike), disqualifying him for consideration.

In retaliation, the snubbed scholar purchases the titular auction item containing a marauding and moldering instrument of cloth-bound vengeance, “sharing” his find with Lee, Susan, and Susan’s brother Andy (Christian Slater).

Next up is “Cat from Hell,” a stylish, flashback-laden yarn of industrial tycoon Drogan (William Hickey) seeking to rid himself of a certain four-legged nemesis, even going so far as to hire an underground enforcer (former New York Dolls frontman David Johansen) to handle the job. Based on a story by Stephen King and scripted by Romero, this zany little slice of mayhem gets a surprising amount of mileage from its slim premise, assisted in no small part by its energetic cast, human and animal alike.

The gag-tastic finale comes courtesy of Dick Smith, credited here as “special effects make-up consultant” and a very busy Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger of KNB EFX (one of 12 film/TV credits the boys racked up in a three-year span).

Last is the poetic “Lover’s Vow,” with McDowell again in the writer’s desk providing an unofficial redux of “The Woman of the Snow” (featured in another acclaimed anthology feature, Kwaidan) with artist Preston (James Remar) encountering a grotesque and murderous creature one night in the alley behind the local watering hole who, after annihilating his bartender friend, promises to let him live if he promises never to tell of the encounter.

Shortly afterward (like, suspiciously shortly), Preston meets the exotic Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) and the two fall in love and enjoy 10 years of wedded bliss. But the romantic Preston feels compelled to share his whole heart with his bride… and that means no secrets. The sublime monster design by KNB is shown off to its best effect, and rightfully ended up becoming the primary publicity element in the film’s promotion.

Despite its roster of rising stars and being produced by Richard P. Rubenstein (Dawn of the Dead) and Mitchell Galin (The Night Flier, Thinner), the film didn’t enjoy nearly the box office success it deserved, although it did manage fairly brisk business on home video. Now, the good folks at Shout! Factory have opted to rectify that by offering this sumptuous Collectors Edition featuring two commentary tracks and a new feature-length documentary on the film’s origins, production, and lasting legacy.


NEW Audio commentary with co-producer David R. Kappes
Audio commentary with director John Harrison and screenwriter George A. Romero
NEW Tales Behind The Darkside: The Making of Four Ghoulish Fables – A Six-Chapter, Feature-Length Documentary featuring director John Harrison, producer Mitchell Galin, director of photography Robert Draper, production designer Ruth Ammon, special make-up & creature effects artists Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, creature performer Michael Deak, actors James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong, and editor Harry B. Miller

“From Small Screens to Big Screams” (16 min)
“Rising Stars and the Walking Dead” (18 min)
“That Damn Cat!” (17 min)
“A Vow to Keep” (26 min)
“The Order of Things” (14 min)
“The Test of Time” (13 min)

Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots
Radio Spots
Stills Gallery
Behind-The-Scenes Gallery
Behind-The-Scenes Footage Compilation

Tales from the Darkside is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:

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