Michael Scott

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie may be loosely based upon the anthology 1980s TV show of the same name, but it has more in common with Creepshow and Creepshow 2 than you might think. After the success of the before mentioned two films, George Romero and Paul Rubinstein teamed back up to create ANOTHER success, this time copying the name of the popular sci-fi/horror show Tales from the Darkside and made it gorier and more “modern” in it’s depiction of horror. Like most of the anthology series of this type, there are 3 main stories titled “Lot 249”, “The Cat from Hell” and “The Lovers Vow”, each one narrated by a bookend story that ties all three tales together for us. It’s simple, rather fun, and actually a decent sequel to the 2 Creepshow films if you were a fan.

The bookend story revolves around a little boy named Timmy (Matthew Lawrence) who is being held captive by a murderously sweet woman named Betty (Debbie Harry), who just so happens to want to kill and eat him ala Hansel and Gretel. However, little Timmy tries to delay his fate in the oven by telling Betty three separate stories from the book “Tales from the Darkside”, to which she happily complies.

The first is probably the best of the 3, featuring 3 of the most popular 90s stars when they were super young. Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, and Christian Slater. This little tale of gooey nastiness starts when gypped scholar Edward (Buscemi) decides to call upon the powers of an ancient mummy to resurrect and kill the people who burned his chance at a fantastic scholastic position. However, as the body count rises, friend Andy (Slater) figures out what is going on, and makes a little bit of “turnabout is fair play” on the murderous academic.

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The second is more cerebral, and you can really see Stephen King’s fingers all over the writing of this one. Titled “The Cat from Hell”, this story revolves around aging pharmaceutical kingpin Mr. Drogan (William Hickey), who hires a hitman by the name of Halston (David Johansen) to murder…….a cat. However, this is no ordinary cat. Mr. Drogan has a bit of a dark stain on his history, having experimented on thousands of cats over the course of the creation of his latest drug, and is dead certain that the cat haunting his house happens to be sent to kill him. Thinking him out of his gourd, Halston takes the gig due to the beefy $100,000.00 price tag, only to find out that the crazy old man might not be so crazy at all.

The third is probably the weakest, but still an enjoyable jaunted. “The Lovers Vow” deals with a struggling artist named Preston (James Rema) who witnesses the tragic and bloody death of his friend outside of a bar by a hideous gargoyle. The gargoyle spares his life on one condition though. Never speak of what he saw that never EVER again. Running away from the crime scene, Preston runs into a Carola (Rae Dawn Chong), who is herself running from a wannabe rapist. Taking her back to his place for shelter, the two fall for each other only to find out that keeping his little secret may be the hardest thing that Preston has ever done.

The stories are short and sweet, clocking in at about 25 minute each, and follows the same format as most anthology horror films. Quick, nasty and filled with gore and practical effects that seem dated today. To be fair, the late 80s and early 90s was ahead of it’s time with stop motion and practical effects, but today’s horror hounds may not be as used to how cheesy they look today. That being said, the stories are quite a lot of fun, and the wraparound “bookend” story is just gleefully twisted enough to put a smile on the horror fantatics face.




Rating:

Rated R by the MPAA




Video: :3.5stars:
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From what I can tell we aren’t getting a new scan for the 30 year old film, but the Collector’s edition still sports a fairly good scan from what I see. It’s definitely got that 1990s look to it, with colors going a bit on the warm side, with cool blues in the background and an almost rustic, ruddy look to faces. “Cat from Hell” looks the coolest out of the three stories, with lots of blue and grays in the 35mm image. “Lot 249” definitely has that parchment brown look to it, but all three stories showcase good detail levels. There’s definitely some mild artifacting and some print damage (“The Lovers Vow” has some spots on the screen that come and go), and there’s some definite softness to the overall encode, but at the end of the day, it’s a solid looking 1.85:1 image and should please most fans.








Audio: :4stars:
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The 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix is about what one would expect from an early 90s horror movie. It’s creepy and atmospheric without being overly aggressive, and is a fairly simple sound design. Vocals and dialog are kept up in the front of the room, while the surrounds and mains get a bit of channel separation with the score. LFE is there and noticeable, but it’s not overly heavy or aggressive like many modern day flicks. The bass comes and goes quite frequently, but at much more subdued levels than jump scare movies. It’s a good mix and the sound stage is excellent, so as long as you go in not expecting the latest The Conjuring sound design, you’ll be very pleased.







Extras: :4.5stars:
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NEW Audio Commentary with Co-Producer David R. Kappes
• 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
• Audio Commentary with Director John Harrison and Co-Screenwriter George A. Romero
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Stills Gallery
• Behind-the-Scenes Gallery
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation














Final Score: :4stars:


Tales from the Darkside may really be an unofficial sequel to Creepshow 2, but it is still a lot of fun and holds up better than I remember from my childhood. It still has enough of that 1980s flair that fizzled during the 1990s attempts at horror, and the addition of Romero and Stephen King allows for some solid storytelling from the little tales. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray has some good video and audio, but the real treat is the massive amount of extras crammed into the 1 disc special edition. Well worth it if you’re a 80s and 90s horror fan.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Christian Slater, Debbie Harry, David Johansen, Rae Dawn Chong, James Remar
Directed by: John Harrison
Written by: Michael McDowell, Stephen King, George A. Romero
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: R minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 25th, 2020
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Recommendation: Fun Watch

 

Asere

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Thanks for the review. I will need to revisit this one again.
 

Michael Scott

Moderator / Reviewer
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Arizona
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Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
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Cheap Thrills Center
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Volt 10 Rear Surrounds
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Thanks for the review. I will need to revisit this one again.

Long time no see Asere. And yeah. Definitely a fun blast from the past
 
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