Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

This anthology is a lot more mainstream than most of the movies I review here and expect even weirder ones to come. I got in a 2 boxes totaling 50 horror tapes yesterday. I wanted to show this one, one of the few better known films included in the collection, to my girlfriend. There is crazy stuff in this box lot I ordered, including crazy stuff I already have, sometimes twice already! Yeah, lots of the same shit with different titles, soon I will have a horror distro just selling my duplicates. The selling points of this lot (as promoted by the knowledgeable seller) were all four Blind Dead movies, a bunch of Paul Naschy movies, and many oversized-box tapes from Wizard Video.

Tales from the Darkside is up there with the Creepshow movies and Cat's Eye* as being one of the top anthology movies on the horror market. It's miles ahead of Trilogy of Terror** and inferior only to the best of the Amicus Films*** anthologies.

my tape is in the standard U.S. box, but this European version looks even better

Tales the Darkside has a killer cast of cult stars including punk icons Deborah Harry and David Johansen of the New York Dolls.

Johansen's band is one of my long time favorites and they are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve from the hipster crowd, however, I've been skipping out on their recent reunion shows, tours I would have died to see years ago. When I started listening to punk these bands were all broken up and the thought of them getting back together was absurd. Now, most of the shows I've been going to have been those of reunited 70's and 80's punk bands, I'm definitely the target audience for these performances. Too bad I've become spoiled and take it for granted now that I can see practically any band from rock n' roll history if I want to, especially in the punk rock central Orange County or or the entertainment capitol of the the world, Los Angeles. There is something that rubs me the wrong way about it all, and it's not that original members of the bands are missing. It's not that the bands are returning to play their earliest material, though many abandoned those styles of music years ago to chase success with the more popular or mature styles of dance, new wave, and metal. It's the sheer number of reunions that is scary. Name a famous punk band from the past, the odds that they have played in one incarnation or another in the past five years are extremely high. So high that it is difficult to think of exceptions, the only ones coming to mind being The Clash, Minor Threat, The 4 Skins, Blitz, SSD, and DYS. I'm probably wrong about some of these guys not playing and if I didn't mention a band you can think of, well, you probably just did not hear about the show.

Three shorts make up Tales from the Darkside as well as the wraparound story with suburban witch Deborah Harry who has a kid captured in a kitchen dungeon. He's reading horror stories to her in order to put off his death. The stories are pretty old fashioned with updated gore and comic moments a quality common to movies aimed at teans. Internet horror fans use the term "chomedy" to describe this kind of movie on message boards, but I don't care for that word and don't look forward to the first time I hear it used it conversation. I've yet to hear it said out loud and it will be like nails on a black board when I do.

Each short in Tales from the Darkside is great, the last is the most serious and touching. You might forget you are watching a horror movie at times during this romantic tale. It's based on a story from the Japanese horror masterpiece Kwaiden (1964), also an anthology movie.

Notes on the other anthology movies mentioned above...

* Creepshow (1982) and Creepshow 2 (1987) are both based on Stephen King stories. The first movie is directed by George Romero, the second movie's script is written by George Romero. The script for the "Cat from Hell" segment in this movie, Tales from the Darkside, is written by George Romero and and is based on a Stephen King story. Romero also wrote some episodes from the Tales from the Darkside TV Series (1984), a show that is not as clever as the movie it inspired. The movie Two Evil Eyes (1990) is an anthology of two segments, the first one is written and directed by Romero, the second by Dario Argento. Cat's Eye (1985) is an often overlooked anthology of three shorts based on Stephen King stories.

** Trilogy of Terror (1975) is an overrated TV movie with three shorts staring Karen Black, my least favorite Scream Queen. Only the last segment is worth watching, as a Zuni Fetish Doll goes bezerk. Trilogy of Terror II (1996) is more entertaining.

*** Amicus Films was a rival of Hammer Films. They both made horror movies and used the same stars, mainly Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. In the 60's and 70's they put out a bunch of anthologies, the most famous being the original Tales From the Crypt movie and The House that Dripped Blood. All of the anthologies are good, if a bit cheap looking in the effects department.

I hyped up Tales from the Darkside quite a bit before playing the tape. I said you would love it. Did you?

I thought Tales from the Darkside was deserving of the hype you gave it.

Which story was the best?

The last story (love story) was by far my favorite. It was a gargoyle tragedy, and the makeup and costumes superceded any other gargoyles. Plus Blondie is in the wraparound story in which she tries to bake a little boy in her oven for a feast she is preparing. Now what could be better than that??????? (Fatten up little one!)


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9:32 PM  
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2:34 AM  

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