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John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales.

March 21, 2016

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MY CALL: Excepting the middle story, I really love this horror anthology. I loved it as a kid in the early 90s and I still love it today. It’s an excellent, cheap B-movie with fun short stories of dark fairy tales. The budget is low but the effects are diverse and the music was surprisingly interesting. MORE MOVIES LIKE Deadtime Stories: Hellraiser (1987) and Wolfcop (2014) offer better iterations of the first two short stories herein. Otherwise, try more horror anthology movies.

OTHER HORROR ANTHOLOGIESBlack 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), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), 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), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014) and A Christmas Horror Story (2015).

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Also released as Freaky Fairy Tales, this clearly low budget film begins with a playful whimsy as the opening credits are presented as pages in an ancient storybook being turned by progressively more monstrous hands–it’s cute but it relates to nothing else in the movie. The wraparound story is quite simple: an uncle telling his nephew a series of bedtime horror stories to waylay his fears of a monster hiding in his bedroom.

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The first story is about a young boy and the witch sisters he serves. They intend to resurrect their long dead sister (another witch). This dark fairy tale is surprisingly loaded with fun special effects. They use illusions to seduce a priest and make his disembodied hand crawl asunder from his arm. They then remove the heart from the corpse of their long dead sister, apply a magical potion to restart its beating, and return it to her chest cavity. What follows is a gross, slimy, stop-motion display as tendrils of nerves and sinew emerge from the heart and envelop the skeleton in a crust of cadaverous filth, from which their sister would then emerge. The effects, however low the budget may be, had me squealing in delight as it reminded me of the Hellraiser (1987) transformation scene.

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Later, her disembodied heart would literally attack the servant boy like a facehugger organ-octopus! Which reminded me of the zombified guts in Dead-Alive (1992). I vaguely remember these two grotesque scenes from when I rented this over 20 years ago! It’s delightful!

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This trailer has glimpses of both these scenes that I love.
The transformation (in two separate parts of the clip) and the face-attacking organ.

The second tale is a werewolf version of Little Red Riding Hood and, because our story teller is a bit of a dirty uncle, our Riding Hood heroine (Nicole Picard; Ghoulies III) is a bit on the sultry side. This horror short is rather disappointing and revolves around a werewolf (Matt Mitler; Breeders, Basket Case 2) getting his prescription mixed up with grandma’s at the pharmacy. When he stops by her house to retrieve it, he wolfs out and blows her house down. It’s silly, stupid and barely entertaining. But if you enjoyed it at all I’d recommend you follow it up with Wolfcop (2014). Watch out for the goofy closing line “Grandma, what big teeth you have!”

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Our third story is about Goldi Lox (Cathryn de Prume) and the three bears. Only here our Goldi is an insane psychic/telekinetic murderer who collects the bodies of her would-be suitors in a murder house and our “bears” are the Baer family, the poppa and baby of which were recently broken out of the “Home for the Hopelessly Insane” by Momma Baer (Melissa Leo; Oblivion, Olympus Has Fallen). This one is just plain zany and mixes the macabre with the trickery of Bewitched.

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With each subsequent story, the tone goes from moderately serious, to silly, to slapstick. The writing, editing and acting are consistently horrible (yes, even Melissa Leo) and the campiness also increases later in the movie, culminating in Goldi’s gratuitous nudity-showcasing shower scene.

Excepting the middle story, I really love this horror anthology. I loved it as a kid in the early 90s and I still love it today. It’s an excellent, cheap B-movie with fun short stories of dark fairy tales.

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