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John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), a great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles.

May 13, 2015

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MY CALL: An excellent anthology that focuses more on storytelling than shock value—but it still has its moments.  These fun short stories span serious to silly and original to trope-rich.  Well worth a watch!  OTHER HORROR ANTHOLOGIES:  Some other fun, decent and/or clever anthologies include (in order of release date):  Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Campfire Tales (1997), 3 Extremes (2004), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013) and The ABCs of Death 2 (2014).

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Having directed several episodes of TV’s Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Darkside, John Harrison had the right experience to bring these stories to life.  The wraparound story is rather Hansel and Gretel-ish, featuring a young Matthew Lawrence (Boy Meets World, Creature of Darkness) incarcerated in a kitchen-side cell being fattened with cookies.  The young boy distracts his captor (Deborah Harry; Videodrome), who plans on preparing and serving him for a hoity-toity dinner party, by reading twisted stories from a book aptly title “Tales from the Darkside.”  The three stories are not linked themselves, but still find a good synthesis with the wraparound story.

Our first story “Lot 249” features a group of graduate students played by a young Christian Slater (Stranded, El Gringo), Julianne Moore (Carrie, Psycho) and Steve Buscemi (Con Air, Escape from LA)…that alone gives good reason for any movie fan to see this.  Young Buscemi is an archaeological power geek who acquires (somehow) a sarcophagus with a mummy in it.  How he pulled this off without eBay and bypassing customs inspections is beyond me.  So what do you do with a mummy other than maybe sell it to turn a profit?  Well, have no fear of indecision because the mummy comes with instructions—in the form of a scroll in hieroglyphics.  Of course he reads this scroll, after all horror cannot transpire otherwise, and the mummy goes about killing people.  The execution of the story is weak, but it’s cheeky tone makes up for that.

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Next is “Cat from Hell,” a new take on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat.  A wealthy geriatric recluse (William Hickey; Puppetmaster) hires a hit man (David Johansen; Campfire Stories, Freejack) to kill his cat for $100,000!  Sound funny?  Well not to our recluse, who explains how the cat had already killed three members of his household.  Of course, our hit man takes the job and it turns out to be considerably harder than he expected.  Enjoy.  This one is zany but told with a straight face.  You’ll giggle, but you’ll also wince.

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It gets gory in a really fun way!

“Lover’s Vow” is the most clever story by far, it offers no laughs at all, and it steers clear of the tropes we find in the other two segments.  In this story an artist (James Remar; Horns, The Unborn, The Warriors) sees something that he shouldn’t have and he swears a vow that he would never tell what he saw or describe his mysterious assailant, which is apparently a gargoyle.  Later in the story he meets the love of his life (Rae Dawn Chong) and all the while he keeps from her this secret.  There’s a cool ending.  I never saw it coming, but my girlfriend managed to predict it.

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The gargoyle is actually pretty cool.

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I first saw this as a child, so this flick has a powerful nostalgia over me.  But the stories are still entertaining to see unfold and I feel this should entertain today’s horror fans who haven’t yet seen it—especially viewers old enough (maybe over 30) to appreciate the practical effects and the before-the-were-stars cameos.

Enjoy.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2015 3:14 pm

    Great review John. It’s uncanny, I have just written an appraisal for this one last week. Agreed, it’s a great fun little anthology.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 14, 2015 9:43 am

      Please post a link to your review and share your horrific opinion with my readers as well!

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt (1972), a truly classic horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: The Vault of Horrors (1973), not quite living up to its Tales from the Crypt prequel, but fun nonetheless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 1: Tales from the Darkside (1990), Zombeavers (2014) and Wolfcop (2014) | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. V/H/S Viral (2014), another found footage horror anthology with a couple of cool short stories | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. Love in the Time of Monsters (2014), a horror comedy filled with chest-bursting zombie squirrels, mutant rage zombies dressed as bigfoot, and delightfully deliberate stupidity. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Love in the Time of Monsters (2014), a horror comedy filled with chest-bursting zombie squirrels, mutant rage zombies dressed as bigfoot, and delightfully deliberate stupidity. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Creepshow (1982), a classic, campy, nostalgic horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero! | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Night Angel (1990), the pleasantly gory tale of the evil succubus Lilith. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: A Christmas Horror Story (2015), a holiday anthology complete with zombie elves, evil spirits and Santa fighting Krampus! | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: Southbound (2015), five linked tales form this decent horror anthology with angels of death and the worst broken leg ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: Holidays (2016), an excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. Bad Movie Tuesday: The Quest (1996), Van Damme’s unofficial reimagining of Bloodsport as a period piece with strong Kickboxer influences and a sprig of Lionheart. | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 2: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), Late Phases (2014) and The Company of Wolves (1984) | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: Night of the Demons 2 (1994), yet more boobs, more gore, more lipstick, and more fun cheesy demonic possession than part 1. | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes. | Movies, Films & Flix

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