Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)

MAY 14, 2008


As a kid, I remember watching Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, at least a couple times, but the only story I recalled was the middle one, about the unkillable cat. Which makes no sense, because it seems that would be the least likely one to catch on HBO – if I started from the beginning, I would have fallen asleep by then (I was always narcinemaleptic), and if I caught it while flipping channels, it would likely be the final story. Well, whatever, I didn’t remember anything about the other two, or the wraparound, so it counts for HMAD.

It’s funny to see how many actors are now famous. When I saw it, even if I had recalled the piece, there’s no way I would know who Steve Buscemi or Julianne Moore were (even Christian Slater I likely only knew from one or two other movies). Likewise in the final segment, my 10 year old self would have no appreciation for a rare good guy turn from James Remar. I think the only ones I would have recognized were William Hickey (due to his role in Christmas Vacation) and Rae Dawn Chong (The Principal! Fuck yeah!). Hardly a single character in the film is as unfamous now as they were then, pretty much just the other preppy dude in Slater’s story is the only one that hasn’t gone on to have a nice career.

As an anthology film, it works better than most, since more stories are good than not. The first two are pretty great, and the wraparound is delightfully mean-spirited. The only one that didn’t quite gel was the 3rd one, with Remar and Chong. I don’t know if it’s too long or simply not long enough, but it just doesn’t fit as well with the others. Maybe it’s the lack of black humor (more apparent after the 2nd story, which is by far the most fun), or the abrupt “ten years later” finale, I dunno. The KNB transformation during the finale makes it worthwhile in the end, however.

Slater’s story (about the mummy) has my favorite line of the film – when opening the mummy’s sarcophagus, the other preppy dude randomly comments “Ugh, he looks just like your father!” This is not a very nice thing to say, whether the character’s father is dead or alive. And he says it in such a way that it seems like the audience should know what he means by it. I also love Buscemi’s explanation of how he tricked Slater, mocking him for not knowing the difference between Egyptian and Sumerian hieroglyphics or whatever. Ah, Buscemi, you were always awesome.

The DVD surprisingly has a commentary by director John Harrison and George Romero (who wrote the cat story, based on Stephen King’s short story). Romero is one of those guys that you wish was on every commentary track, even if he had nothing to do with the film, because he’s consistently interesting (the fact that he’s the most intelligent of his peers doesn’t hurt). They reveal that the stories were originally written in a different order, though I can’t remember what that order was (they also say there’s a lot of continuity errors as a result, but I didn’t notice any more than usual).

And I didn’t hear them really say anything about it on the track (I was kind of ‘background’ing it for the most part, since I had just finished watching the film), but apparently the movie was, as far as many of the crew are concerned, Creepshow 3. It certainly feels like a Creepshow film, and it’s obvious that the kid in the wraparound was meant to be reading comics instead of a large leatherbound book of short stories. I’ll take it over the actual Creepshow 3, at any rate (which to be fair I haven’t seen, nor will I until I hear a single good thing about it; a challenge that has yet to be met).

What say you?


  1. I'm sorry, my nerd factor makes it impossible for me not to say this:
    Egyptians had hieroglyphs, the Sumerians had cuneiform.

    I apologise for wasting comment space. The voices in my head forced me to do it!

  2. Hahahah actually I think that IS what Buscemi is mocking him for, I'm just a shitty 'recap'er.

  3. I haven't seen this flick in years. Oddly enough I only remember the Mummy and the Gargoyle story. The cat story doesn't ring any bells I'll have to check this one out again.

    Interesting comment you made regarding Creepshow 3. I had always felt this could have been titled Creepshow and it's certainly for my money one of the best anthology horror movies.


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