TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Deborah Harry, Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, David
Johansen, William Hickey, James Remar, Rae Dawn Chong, Robert Klein, Matthew
Director: John Harrison
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Commentary Track
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2001
ALWAYS go to a lot of trouble for a dinner party.”
love horror, and have always had a warm spot in my heart for Tales From the
Darkside: The Movie. Episodic
scare flicks don't always pan out, but this picture, which seemed to bear
similarity to the television show in name only, was more effective, more fun,
and more satisfying than either Creepshow film, or Twilight Zone: The
Movie, or any number of other entries in the same genre.
because of a satisfying wraparound structure that gives the individual tales
scope, as well as for being so wickedly funny with its macabre premises and gory
makeup effects. For people who love
horror, it's a good hour and a half of shrieking and smiling.
suburban housewife (Harry, of Blondie fame) has an unusual item on the menu for
dinner: a hapless youngster named Timmy (Lawrence). He's the main course, but he tries to stall the inevitable
by reading aloud stories from the lady's favorite book.
first story, “Lot 249”, is based on a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and
tells a tale of college campus revenge when an archaeology major (Buscemi)
unleashes an ancient Egyptian curse with murderous results.
There are no real surprises here, but plenty of fun to be had as you wait
for the inevitable.
second tale is “Cat From Hell”, and was penned by George Romero for the
screen from a story by Stephen King. When
a bizarre wheelchair bound old man (Hickey) employs the services of a renowned
hit man (Johansen), the killer has no idea his prey will be a simple black cat.
But the cat may be more than he appears to be.
You say you've seen too many black cat movies already?
I'll bet you haven't seen one with a climax like this.
final story, “Lover's Vow”, is the best of the bunch, and was probably
inspired by one of the tales in the Japanese film Kwaidan. A struggling New York artist (Remar) witnesses a horrible
murder by a demonic gargoyle, who lets him live on the condition that he never
tells what he saw that night. If
you've never seen this movie before, I envy you getting to experience this
tale for the first time.
brings us back to the connecting story, which resolves as only a Darkside tale
can. Yes, we do love our happy
John Harrison seems to grow more confident as each tale unfolds…while “Lot
249” is done fairly by the numbers, “Cat From Hell” takes on a visual
style akin to Dario Argento, with the camera often showing the kitty's point
of view, opening up for wild effects and movements.
“Lover's Vow” is a masterpiece of horror, with a perfectly rendered
atmosphere, timely bits of gore, and perfect pacing.
enjoyed the cast across the board…particularly seeing very early screen
appearances from Buscemi and Julianne Moore.
Buscemi would later turn the creepiness he created in his character here
into a brilliant, edgy comic career. The
makeup effects by Dick Smith are terrific…he spares no expense to make us
squirm in our seats.
of all, the film never loses its macabre sense of humor.
Most horror fans like to laugh after a good scare anyway, to relieve the
tension. This is a movie that
actively encourages that response. Even
the most horrific scenes are usually offset by a good titter, which is why fans
have embraced this picture over the last decade.
laugh, you'll scream…most of all, you'll want to share the Tales again.
Enjoy it with someone you love…maybe over a nice, home-cooked meal…
is a good anamorphic transfer from Paramount…the print is quite clean, and
doesn't seem to suffer from any apparent compression effects.
Blacks and whites both render purely, but colors in between seem to have
a little less range. Some slight grain is apparent in one or two of the darkest
scenes, but it's not distracting, and just barely noticeable.
Images range from sharply rendered to a bit softer, depending on the
lighting scheme and mood of the shot. Extreme
effects, such as the distortion and color saturation of the cat's-eye view
shots come across very well.
never expect much from older films remixed for 5.1 sound, but Tales performs
quite nicely. The rear stages are
used sparingly but effectively, for musical cues and extra impact on more
chaotic scenes. There is a bit more
panning on the front stage, which is always done smoothly and fluidly.
Dynamic range is fairly strong, as horror films should be.
There's not a lot of bass, but it's not really missed.
All in all, a very worthy effort.
disc contains a trailer and a decent commentary track by director John Harrison
and co-writer George Romero…there are some pauses here and there, but overall,
the joint track is a good listen. The
two masterminds come across as surprisingly normal! Both express their pleasure at the film being remastered for
DVD with a new 5.1 soundtrack.