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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

1990 film directed by John Harrison

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A Mixed (Body) Bag

  • Jul 8, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+2
Essentially Creepshow 3 under the title of the successful television horror series, the production of this anthology flick inherited much of the crew of the prior movies, and like them, its quality varies from one segment to the next. While Beetlejuice scribe Michael McDowell adapted Arthur Conan Doyle's Lot 249 to the screen and wrote the none-too-original Lover's Vow, Stephen King's short story, Cat From Hell, was adapted by zombie lord George Romero. One might assume that this collection of acclaimed talent would inevitably produce something satisfactory, but the result of this collaboration is ultimately disappointing.

The wraparound story that binds these segments together is an amusing modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, starring Blondie herself as a lovely suburban witch and Matthew Lawrence as an unwilling feast-to-be who narrates the film in order to delay his seemingly inevitable demise.

While it's by no means distinguished in the genre, Lot 249 tells a satisfying and tidy story of a college intellectual (Steve Buscemi, looking dorkier than usual) who wreaks petty revenge on his antagonizers (Christian Slater, Julianne Moore, Robert Sedgwick) by means of a reanimated mummy. Though it's nothing to work yourself into a lather over, this story's twist ending delivers an enjoyable surprise.

With his Buster Poindexter days quick behind him, a dapper David Johansen plays a hitman hired by pharmaceutical magnate William Hickey (who looks less ancient here than he often does) to terminate the titular Cat From Hell. While mostly routine in its execution, the penultimate scene of this gruesome portion is an extraordinary sight, the reputation of which brought this movie to my attention. Certain horror movies feature something that you have never seen before or since, and this one of of them.

Lover's Vow is just a charmless rip-off of Lafcadio Hearn's story of the Yuki-onna folklore. Though the visuals of this segment are highlighted by Rae Dawn Chong's sexy good looks and a handful of impressively gory effects, this uninspired recycling is made even more unbearable by James Remar's usual and thorough lack of charisma.

If any movie ever failed to utilize an enormous amount of talent, it's this one. A capable crew, novel stories and a fine cast (consisting of screen veterans, popular faces of the time and a few notable future stars) are squandered on a lightweight production that, while amusing, never even comes close to living up to its potential.

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About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan ()
Ranked #29
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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