I’m not a hundred percent sure what draws me to horror anthologies. But I have a couple of guesses, one that if I get bored I can suffer out till the end of the segment, two I that I get more variety, or three that they’re just awesome. Though all are not made equal. Luckily Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is one of the good ones. Heck I might be tempted to call it one of the great ones. Though is would be due to my deep and endearing love for Debbie Harry and Steve Buscemi.
Tales from the Darkside: The movie opens with its wrap-around story, Betty (Debbie Harry) arrives home from grocery shopping to prepare for a dinner party. After finalizing plans with some of her guests she opens the pantry where she has a local boy, Timmy (Matthew Lawrence). In order to stave off her plans to flay and cook him, Timmy reads her a selection of stories from her favorite book.
The first story is Lot 249, Andy (Christian Slater) and his friend Lee (Robert Sedgwick), two spoiled rich kids discuss how Lee won a scholarship by cheating by having Andy’s sister Susan (Julian Moore) write it for him. Thus cheating fellow student Bellingham (Steve Buscemi) out of it. Bellingham being poor than them and working to pay his way through college. Susan and Lee have also framed Bellingham of theft at his job at a local museum to make winning the scholarship easier. Bellingham confronts them in the hall alluding to his knowledge of their miss-dealings, but invites them in to view his newest acquisition Lot 249. A mummy complete with its sarcophagus. Lee leaves disgusted by the mummy while Andy stays. Bellingham unwraps the mummy and even explores its body cavity where he finds an ancient scroll. One that he uses to make the mummy rise and sets it upon those who has wronged him.
The second story that Timmy tells to avoid the oven is Cat from Hell, which is directed by George A. Romero based on a work by Stephen King. Drogan (William Hickey), an elderly pharmaceutical mogul hires hit man Halston (David Johansen) to kill a cat. The cat in question has according to Drogan killed his friend, his sister and his butler/man servant. As the cat has been sent to get revenge for the five thousand cats killed by Drogan’s company through testing is pharmaceuticals. Halston accepts the easy sounding job, but the cat might be exactly what Drogan fears.
The last story that Timmy tells is Lovers Vow. Preston (James Remar) is a struggling artist. One night he’s called to by his agent for a meeting where the agent lets him go. Preston drowns his sorrows and is escorted out at when the bar closes. He then witnesses a monster kill the bartender brutally. The creature then makes Preston a deal that it would spare his life, but he could never speak of the events of the night or describe the creatures appearance to anyone for as long as he lived. Preston agrees and is let go. On his way back home he comes across a young woman, Carola (Rae Dawn Chong). He takes her to his apartment out of fear she might be attacked by the creature. Prestons life quickly changes after meeting Carola. His art starts selling, they fall in love and get married. Even having two children over the next ten years. Though the memories of that night always haunt him. One night he breaks down, telling Carola the truth of the night they met, breaking his vow to the monster.
All the stories, including the wrap around are really good. My favorite stories were Lot 249 and Lovers Vow respectively. Cat from Hell being the weakest in terms of story for me. The wrap around story had me hooked as well, right until Timmy broke the fourth wall at the end of the film.
The acting is solid and enjoyable straight through. Which isn’t in the least surprising given all the great actors that make and appearance in this film. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie might just be the most star studded horror anthology I’ve seen. With names like Debbie Harry, James Remar, William Hickey, Christian Slater, Julian Moore and Steve Buscemi I’m surprised that I haven’t seen this film before.
Final thoughts, I loved this film. Though it isn’t going to dethrone my current and reigning favorite anthology Trick r’ Treat, Tale from the Darkside makes a strong attempt. The acting is fun, the stories are memorable and I would suggest this film to horror fans. 9/10