Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

When I was a kid, I had a friend who was a horror fiend. This guy loved anything with monsters, blood, guts and ghosts. He had a subscription to the magazine Fangoria, and that is pretty much what I remember most clearly about this movie. He was showing me a whole article on the creature creations for the film, especially the gargoyles. I didn’t see the film till much later, and had forgotten all about it. When it appeared on Netflix, I decided to give it a revisit.

That’s right it is time for another horror movie anthology. The wrap around story features a kid (Matthew Lawrence) trying to escape a witch played by Debbie Harry. He starts telling her stories, Arabian Nights style to distract her from cooking him. The first story is about a nerdy college kid played by Steve Buscemei who obtains a mummy. Of course the mummy is cursed, but Buscemei can control the thing, and he starts taking revenge against those that wronged him. Christian Slater and Julianne Moore play fellow students.

Gears shift to tale penned by Stephen King and George A. Romero.  In this tale a rich old bastard played with glee by William Hickey, hires a hit man played by David Johansen to assassinate his arch nemesis. This nemesis happens to be a black cat that is very capable, and is more than willing to show these two jokers who is boss. The final story revolves around a down on his luck artist (James Remar) who meets a lovely woman played by Rae Dawn Chong. Let’s just say that this dark city has more secrets than I can tell you right now, but its safe to say that the dark wings you see in the night don’t belong to bats… or batman. This can only be described as one of the Tales from the Darkside.

Good Points:
  • Some fun performances from familiar faces
  • Some really cool practical and make up effects.
  • A couple of the stories have a creepy atmosphere

Bad Points:
  • The scripts are really a mixed bag
  • Never gets really scary or spooky
  • The cat story works fine on paper but feels off-putting or silly visually

Horror anthologies are tough to get right. And yeah this one makes a strong effort, but never quite gels. None of the individual stories is better than the others. But all of them have neat or clever moments combined with bizarre or weak elements. It entertains, but you keep wishing for a bit more: better characters, better plot twists, or maybe just replacing that cat story with something better. The final result passes time, but you might be better off watching Creepshow again.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 3
Script: 3
Music: 3
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I like this one, the best of the stories is obviously the one about the Gargoyles, and I loved seen Debbie Harris playing the witch....awesome poster too!

    1. Yeah Debbie Harry was obviously having quite a bit of fun as the witch. I always wish she was in the film a bit more. Yeah that poster is a doozie, that's for sure.

  2. Anthologies such as this, Cat's Eye, Twilight Zone: the Movie, or Trilogy of Terror are the equivalent of binge-watching a few half-hour TV episodes at one sitting with all the predictable unevenness. As you say, this collection is pleasant enough, but it isn't anything award-worthy. It has a good cast though, and that counts for something.

    1. In a way this one fares a bit better than most, because it doesn't really have a stinker in it's whole running time. All the stories are about the same caliber. I just wish it a was fleshed out a little better. But it is a fun evening of entertainment.

  3. Yeah, I was thinking about Creepshow as I read your review. It's similar in style, and really hit and miss for me too. Another one that was similar was the Tales of the Crypt TV series and the Tales From the Darkside TV series (naturally). If some of those series would ever come on TV again, I'd probably sit and watch them. I know for a while they'd sometimes air late at night on various stations, which seemed like a good time slot. All of those films and series seem a little bit dated, but as you said, can still be interesting and entertaining on some level.

    1. Yeah for some reason the TV horror anthology series always worked better for me than most of the movie versions. I still think "Creepshow" may be one of the best. But I haven't seen "Trilogy of Terror" yet, and I hear that one is pretty good.