Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Harrison
Produced byMitchell Galin
Richard P. Rubinstein
Screenplay byMichael 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
Stephen King
Music byJohn Harrison
(Lover's Vow)
Chaz Jankel
(Cat from Hell)
Jim Manzie
(Lot 249)
Pat Regan
(Lot 249)
Donald Rubinstein
(Wraparound Story)
CinematographyRobert Draper
Edited byHarry B. Miller III
Laurel Productions
Darkside Movie
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • May 4, 1990 (1990-05-04)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million
Box office$16.3 million

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a 1990 American comedy 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.

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.[1] 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.[2]



The film 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 has captured 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.

Lot 249[edit]

In the first segment, Michael McDowell adapts Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "Lot No. 249". A graduate student, Edward 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, forces him to summon the mummy, then destroys it and burns its remains and what he believes to be the reanimation parchment. He considers killing Bellingham, but in the end cannot bring himself to commit real murder. However, Bellingham brings Susan and Lee back from the dead (having switched the reanimation parchment with a similar one) and dispatches them to Andy's dorm, where they greet the terrified Andy by saying that Bellingham sends his regards.

Cat from Hell[edit]

In the second tale, George A. Romero adapts a Stephen King short story "The Cat from Hell". 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.

Lover's Vow[edit]

The third and final segment is written by Michael McDowell and based on the 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 or describe the monster's appearance to anyone. The monster then scratches Preston's chest including saying, "Cross Your Heart"[3] and then vanishes, leaving Preston traumatized and confused, but bound by his oath never to talk about the incident.

Preston then runs into another alley to hide, where a beautiful woman named Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) passes by him not long after. Preston then grabs her to supposedly try to protect her from the dangers of the streets, especially since he had just encountered the gargoyle earlier. At first, Carola is hesitant about Preston, but he convinces her that he means no harm. Carola confides in him that she became lost while trying to meet her friends at a specific location and was searching for a taxi. To keep her out of harm's way, Preston insists she try calling a taxi at his apartment. Once at Preston's apartment Carola cleans the wound on his chest, which was left by the monstrous gargoyle and then they make love.

Soon after that night, Preston's life takes many turns for the better. His struggling art career becomes wildly successful, and life seems promising thanks to Carola's connections. A few months later Carola becomes pregnant with Preston's first child. They wed soon after and welcome a second child. However, he is tormented by memories of his encounter with the monster, and his vow of silence weighs on him. One night, on their 10th anniversary, Preston breaks down and tells Carola about the monster, even showing her a statue he sculpted of it. Carola responds by asking him why he is telling her and then Preston responds by saying that he loves her and is the most important person in his life. She appears upset at first which makes Preston assume that she thinks he is lying. But then she lets out a heartbroken screech "You promised you'd never tell!" and reveals herself to be the very same creature he met that night.[4]

With Preston's promise broken, she can no longer remain human and transforms back into a gargoyle monstrous form and when Carola began transforming back into her gargoyle monstrous look, she loudly yells at Preston by saying, "You broke your promise, you idiot. I loved you". As Carola is still undergoing her transformation back into her gargoyle form, Preston pleaded with her to change back into being a human, but Carola responded she cannot transform back into her human form and once her transformation back into a gargoyle is completed, she begins to loudly roar at Preston. And then their children are heard screaming very painfully in their bedroom and Preston pleaded with Carola to stop it and with Carola now fully transformed back into her gargoyle monstrous form, she tells Preston that because he betrayed his vow, it was too late and then Carola tearfully with sorrows roars out and then their children walk out of their bedroom now in their transformed gargoyle monstrous forms. [5] With their children transformed into their gargoyle forms, they were unable to speak. Upset, Preston attempts to approach the children to try to comfort them and to apologize, but Carola who has now fully transformed back into her original gargoyle monster form stops him and surrounds him with her wings. Preston then proclaims that he loves her to which Carola responds in her now monstrous voice that she loves him too while caressing his head, but because he broke his vow, he has sealed their fates. She then kills Preston by biting on his neck and drinking his blood. Carola then gently places Preston's lifeless body onto the floor with blood gushing out from his mouth and neck. Heartbroken, Carola screams and roars and then after flies away with the children. 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 the next one is best, and has a happy ending. She replies that it's too late as she has to start cooking him, and that none of the stories in the book have happy endings. As Betty advances on Timmy, he narrates his own actions: throwing some marbles on the floor, causing her to slip and fall on her butcher's block and impaling her on her own 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 saying "Don't you just love happy endings?"


Wraparound Story
Lot 249
Cat from Hell
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.[6] It grossed a total of $16,324,573 domestically.[7]

The film was given a rating of 39% on the ratings aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 18 reviews, while receiving an overall grade of "C" at Box Office Mojo.

Unmade sequel[edit]

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.[8] 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."[9] This sequel, however, never came to fruition.


  1. ^ DVD Audio Commentary Director's Track
  2. ^ Creepshow 3/Tales from the Darkside: The Movie relationship Archived 2009-11-15 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G9ED_K_IAQ
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EniROJmSS8U
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-XZTEfGw3I
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office May 3-5, 1990". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  7. ^ "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  8. ^ "Laurel Productions presents TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE THE MOVIE 2". varietyultimate.com: Variety. October 15, 1990. Retrieved April 30, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Gingold, Michael (May 1993). "Shocker Sequel Checklist". Fangoria. page 71: Starlog Communications International.

External links[edit]