Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #2: Tales from the Darkside

At some point in this "scarelicious" movie series I should probably watch a scary movie, right?  Tales from the Darkside: the Movie (1990) would not so much be classified as scary.  (Also, I realized twenty minutes into it that I'd seen it before, which also lessens the scare factor.)  Set up as an anthology, TftDtM has three story chapters, surrounded by an overarching framework story in which a little newspaper boy keeps telling stories to the witch 1,001 Nights/Scheherazade-style who has captured him to keep her from stuffing him in the oven, Hansel and Gretel-style.  (The witch appears to live in Brookline, Massachusetts, as you do.)  Timmy the paperboy is played by Matthew Lawrence (Blossom's Joey Lawrence's little brother - ah, the 1990s!) and the witch is played by Debbie Harry, who is not much of an actress.

The first story-within-the-story is "Lot 249," in which dweeby college student Edward orders a mummy (from a catalog?) to get revenge on the popular students who are tormenting him.  Dweeby Edward is Steve Buscemi; two of his tormenters, preppy Andy and Andy's sister Susan, are played by Christian Slater and Julianne Moore respectively.  This vignette is more funny than scary although there are some gooey moments when the mummy recreates his own mummification process on his victims.

The second story-within-the-story is "Cat from Hell," a pedigreed tale with the story by Stephen King and the screenplay by George Romero.  In this one, rich old man Drogan has hired a hitman to take out the titular cat who he believes is killing off his family.  The hitman thinks this is a ridiculous thing to do (although for $100,000 he's game) but things do not go well for him - or the old man, for that matter.  Again, not so scary but the hitman's demise by cat is great fun.

The third story, "Lover's Vow," is not really scary at all.  A broke and despairing artist comes across a real life gargoyle one night.  The gargoyle kills his friend (swipes his head right off his shoulders) but promises to spare the artist's life if he vows to never, ever tell anybody about their encounter.  On his way home, the shaken artist meets up with a pretty girl (Rae Dawn Chong, wearing a trenchcoat - ah, the 1990s!).  They hit it off and the artist's life immediately gets better.  His work starts selling, they get married and have kids.  But at night he keeps drawing and sculpting gargoyles, haunted by his encounter.  Finally, after ten years of success and bliss, he tells his wife about the gargoyle.  TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD MOVIE SPOILER-ISH:  He shouldn't have done that and it ruins everything.  Not at all scary, scarcely gory and hilarious practical gargoyle effects.

This movie is extremely dated looking - hair- and clothes-wise.  It barely registers as horror but is worthwhile as a collector's piece, I guess, especially if you are fond of anthology series.  I am, because I like horror short stories.  But in essence this is a pretty silly collection.

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