Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Talesfromthedarkside.jpg
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 onLot No. 249 by
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Cat from Hell by
Stephen King
StarringDeborah Harry
Christian Slater
David Johansen
William Hickey
James Remar
Rae Dawn Chong
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
Production
company
Laurel Productions
Darkside Movie
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 4, 1990 (1990-05-04)
Running time93 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$3,500,000 (est.)
Box office$16,324,573
 
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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Talesfromthedarkside.jpg
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 onLot No. 249 by
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Cat from Hell by
Stephen King
StarringDeborah Harry
Christian Slater
David Johansen
William Hickey
James Remar
Rae Dawn Chong
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
Production
company
Laurel Productions
Darkside Movie
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 4, 1990 (1990-05-04)
Running time93 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$3,500,000 (est.)
Box office$16,324,573

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a 1990 American horror anthology film directed by John Harrison based on the anthology television series Tales from the Darkside. The film, shot in anthology style, 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.[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]

Plot[edit]

Intro[edit]

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.

Lot 249[edit]

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 (played by Julianne Moore), and Lee (played by 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 (played by 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[edit]

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 (played by William Hickey) who brings in a hitman named Halston (played by 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 (played by Dolores Sutton), her friend Carolyn (played by Alice Drummond), and the family's butler, Richard Gage (played by 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 in fact 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 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 (played by 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 (played by 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's 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 revert 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.

Epilogue[edit]

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?"

Cast[edit]

Wraparound Story
Lot 249
Cat from Hell


Lover's Vow
  • James Remar as Preston
  • Rae Dawn Chong as Carola
  • Robert Klein as Wyatt
  • Ashton Wise as Jer
  • Philip Lenkowsky as Maddox
  • Joe Dabenigno as Cop #1
  • Larry Silvestri as Cop #2
  • Donna Davidge as Gallery Patron
  • Nicole Rochelle as Margaret
  • Daniel Harrison as John

Reception[edit]

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie was a modest box office success for Paramount. The film was released May 3, 1990 in the United States, opening in third place that weekend.[3] It grossed a total of $16,324,573 domestically.[4]

The film was given a rating of 31% on the ratings aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews, while receiving an overall grade of "C" at Box Office Mojo.

References[edit]

External links[edit]