Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
|Tales from the Darkside: The Movie|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Harrison|
|Produced by||Mitchell Galin
Richard P. Rubinstein
|Screenplay by||Michael McDowell
(Lot 249 and Lover's Vow)
George A. Romero
(Cat from Hell)
|Based on||Lot No. 249 by
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Cat from Hell by
Rae Dawn Chong
|Music by||John Harrison
(Cat from Hell)
|Edited by||Harry B. Miller III|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a 1990 American horror anthology film directed by John Harrison, and based on the anthology television series Tales from the Darkside. The film depicts a kidnapped paperboy who tells three stories of horror to the suburban witch who is preparing to eat him, à la Hansel and Gretel.
The film is sometimes said to have been intended as Creepshow 3, a sequel to George A. Romero and Stephen King's popular horror anthologies Creepshow and Creepshow 2. However, this is not supported by any real evidence. Tom Savini has been quoted as saying that this film is the real Creepshow 3, which could be how the rumor started, though he may just have been referring to the similar nature of the movies and the involvement of King and Romero. The story titled "Cat from Hell" was originally going to appear in Creepshow 2, but was scrapped due to budgetary reasons.
The movie opens with Betty, an affluent suburban housewife and modern-day witch (Deborah Harry), planning a dinner party. The main dish is to be Timmy (Matthew Lawrence), a young boy whom she had captured earlier and chained up in her pantry. To stall her from stuffing and roasting him, the boy tells her three horror stories from a book she gave him, titled Tales from the Darkside.
In the first segment, Michael McDowell adapts Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, "Lot No. 249". A graduate student named Bellingham (played by Steve Buscemi) has been cheated by two classmates, Susan (Julianne Moore), and Lee (Robert Sedgwick), who framed him for theft to ruin his chances of winning a scholarship for which they were competing. As revenge, Bellingham reanimates a mummy and uses it to murder them both. Susan's brother Andy (Christian Slater) kidnaps Bellingham, and burns the parchment and mummy. He considers killing Bellingham, but in the end can't bring himself to commit real murder. His soft heart serves him poorly in the twist ending, though, when Bellingham brings Susan and Lee back from the dead (he switched the reanimation parchment with a similar one) and dispatches them to Andy's dorm, greeting the terrified Andy by saying that Bellingham sent his regards.
Cat from Hell
In the second tale, George A. Romero adapts a Stephen King short story of the same name. Drogan is a wealthy, wheelchair-bound old man (William Hickey) who brings in a hitman named Halston (David Johansen) for a bizarre hire: kill a black cat, which Drogan believes is murderously evil. Drogan explains that there were three other occupants of his house before the cat arrived: his sister, Amanda (Dolores Sutton), her friend Carolyn (Alice Drummond), and the family's butler, Richard Gage (Mark Margolis). Drogan claims that one by one, the cat killed the other three, and that he is next. Drogan's pharmaceutical company killed 5,000 cats while testing a new drug, and he is convinced that this black cat is here to exact cosmic revenge.
Halston doesn't believe the story, but is more than willing to eliminate the cat since Drogan is offering $100,000. But when Drogan returns to the house to see if the deed is done, he finds that the cat has killed Halston, by climbing down his throat. The cat emerges from the hitman's corpse and jumps at Drogan, giving him a fatal heart attack.
The third and final segment is written by Michael McDowell and based on yuki-onna, a spirit or yōkai in Japanese folklore or more specifically Lafcadio Hearn's version in Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. A despondent artist named Preston (James Remar) witnesses a gruesome murder committed by a gargoyle-like monster. The monster agrees to spare Preston's life as long as he swears never to speak of what he saw and heard or describe the monster's appearance to anyone. The monster vanishes, leaving Preston traumatized and confused, but bound by his oath never to talk about the incident.
After that night, Preston's life takes many turns for the better. He meets a beautiful woman named Carola (Rae Dawn Chong), and they fall in love, marry, and have two children. Preston's struggling art career becomes wildly successful, and life seems promising, but he is tormented by memories of his encounter with the monster, and his vow of silence weighs on him. One night he breaks down and tells Carola about the monster, even showing her a statue he sculpted of it. She appears upset; at first Preston assumes she thinks he is lying, but then she lets out a heartbroken screech and reveals herself to be the very same creature he met that night.
With Preston's promise broken she can no longer remain human, and their children transform to monstrous forms as well. She kills Preston (though she says that she loved him), gathers the children and flies away. The final scene shows that the gargoyle and children have turned to stone upon a building ledge, staring down at Preston's body with sorrowful expressions.
Betty remarks that Timmy saved the best story ("Lover's Vow") for last, but he says that he hasn't told her the really best story yet and that this one has a happy ending. She tells him that he should have done it earlier, because now it's too late and she has to start cooking him to be ready in time for her party, and that none of the stories in the book have happy endings. As Betty advances on Timmy, he tells her this story, his own, narrating his own actions as he trips her by throwing some marbles on the floor. Betty slips and falls on her butcher's block, impaling herself on her tools. Timmy releases himself and pushes her into her own oven. The film ends with Timmy helping himself to a cookie and breaking the fourth wall by asking us, "Don't you love happy endings?"
- Wraparound Story
- Lot 249
- Steve Buscemi as Bellingham
- Julianne Moore as Susan
- Christian Slater as Andy
- Robert Sedgwick as Lee
- Donald Van Horn as Moving Man
- Michael Deak as Mummy
- George Guidall as Museum Director
- Kathleen Chalfant as Dean
- Ralph Marrero as Cabbie
- Cat from Hell
- William Hickey as Drogan
- David Johansen as Halston
- Paul Greeno as Cabbie
- Alice Drummond as Carolyn
- Dolores Sutton as Amanda
- Mark Margolis as Gage
- Lover's Vow
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie was a modest box office success for Paramount. The film was released May 4, 1990 in the United States, opening in third place that weekend. It grossed a total of $16,324,573 domestically.
Laurel Productions initially announced a sequel to the film in October 1990. A screenplay was written by the first film's screenwriters Michael McDowell and George Romero, along with Gahan Wilson. Segments planned included an adaptation of Robert Bloch's "Almost Human" alongside adaptations of Stephen King's short stories "Pinfall" (originally planned for Creepshow 2) and "Rainy Season". This sequel, however, never came to fruition.
- DVD Audio Commentary Director's Track
- Creepshow 3/Tales from the Darkside: The Movie relationship
- "Weekend Box Office May 3-5, 1990". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- "Laurel Productions presents TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE THE MOVIE 2". varietyultimate.com: Variety. October 15, 1990. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
- Gingold, Michael (May 1993). "Shocker Sequel Checklist". Fangoria (page 71: Starlog Communications International).
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie at the Internet Movie Database
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie at AllMovie
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie at Box Office Mojo