“Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” is a 1990 American anthology horror film directed by John Harrison. It it based on the ‘80s anthology horror TV series of the same name. While known in the horror community it gets overlooked by your average movie goer, and that is a shame because this film is a gem. I first saw it when I was seven and it helped me get hooked on horror, and I’m sure there are other horror fanatics that can say the same.
Since this is an anthology film there are three stories and a framing device. Let’s talk about the framing device first. Blondie’s Debby Harry plays Betty, a suburban housewife and modern day witch who is planning a dinner party. What is she cooking? Human child of course. Earlier in the day she captured a young boy named Timmy. To stall for time Timmy decides to tell her some stories from the book “Tales from the Darkside.”
The first true segment is “Lot 249”, which is inspired by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story “Lot No. 249.” Steve Buscemi plays a graduate student and antique collector who gets his hands on a mummy. He brings it back to life, by using a scroll found in the mummy’s sarcophagus, and uses it to get revenge on some fellow students who have wronged him. Imagine Boris Karloff’s “The Mummy” mixed with a Lucio Fulci film and this is what you get. A very gory and very entertaining segment. Horror fans will love it.
Next segment is “Cat from Hell,” which is written by George Romero and based off the Stephen King story of the same name. This one is dark, brutal but intelligent at the same time. A hit man, played by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, is hired by a wealthy, wheelchair bound old man, played by William Hickey. However the old man does not want him to kill a person, but rather a black cat. According to the old man the cat just showed up at his mansion one day and his other family members that lived there started dying of mysterious circumstance. The old man was once the owner of a pharmaceutical company that tested its products on cats, killing thousands in the process. He believes the cat is some sort of supernatural being that is there to punish him for what he had done.
The hit man thinks the old man is crazy but he kills the cat anyways, only to be taught a brutal and powerful lesson. A very brutal, very gory tale that goes to show what goes around comes around. The ending is very powerful and has stuck with me since I first saw this movie as a child. Only Stephen King could have come up with a story like this. However it is interesting to note that King’s story ends differently than this one does.
Last is the best and most powerful segment “Lovers Vow.” It tells the story of a down-on-his luck New York City artist named Preston, played by James Remar. One day Preston looses everything and goes to a bar to drink his trouble’s away. The bar closes and he and the bartender go outback to lock up for the night. Suddenly, a gargoyle comes out and brutally murders the bartender. The gargoyle spares Preston’s life and says that if Preston ever tells anybody about what he saw, he will come back and kill him. Present then meets a mysterious woman, his luck begins to turn around and he becomes extremely successful. I don’t want to go into any more details about the story but I will say the ending will haunt you as it is powerful and quite sad.
The special effects in this segment are great. The gargoyle looks very life like, slimy and hideous. There is also plenty of atmosphere, creepy moments and lots and lots of gore.
A fantastic movie and one that I can’t recommend enough. You just have to watch it to see how great it truly is. While it shares the same name as the anthology series the movie is quite different from the show in terms of the content. The show was creepy but never violent or gory. The movie on the other hand has a lot of gore, making it more similar to another anthology film “Creepshow.”
Speaking of “Creepshow,” according to Tom Savini this is the real “Creepshow 3,” not that piece of crap movie that has nothing to do with George Romero or Stephen King. “Creepshow 3” is a piece of shit and all copies of it should be burned.
Mainstream critics seem not to like this film and that is messed up as it is a great fucking movie. What I like about the film is that you can watch as it either three R-rated “Tales from the Darkside” episodes or you can watch it as the true “Creepshow 3.” I believe this film deserves a spot in the collection of any horror enthusiasts. I have had it in my collection forever and everyone in a while I pop it out and give it a watch. Chances are, you will too after watching it.