The horror anthology film is both a blessing and a curse. For every Creepshow there is an ABC's of Death. Even rarer still is the horror anthology that delivers a 100% complete package of delightful horror tales. Usually, there is at least one stinker in the group, but [Tales From The Darkside](series:1175061) is the exception to these rules. Comprised of three stories with one anchoring them all together, Tales From The Darkside is a little jewel box of terror.
The main story stars the incomparable Deborah Harry as a Martha Stewart type woman getting ready for a dinner party. Her main dish is going to be Timmy; the little boy that she has locked up in the kitchen. She has been feeding him chocolate chip cookies in an effort to fatten him up. During his downtime, she has been kind enough to provide him with a book; her favorite book when she was a little girl. Trying to buy time, Timmy reads her stories from the book Tales From The Darkside while she prepares dinner.
The first story, Lot 249, is an adaptation of a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle of the same name. Starring Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore, this is a taut story of payback involving the use of an ancient mummy. Despite being a truly great piece of short and intricate storytelling, this segment is like a little time capsule of the 90's. All of the actors are so young and so very styling in their 90's clothing. It's pretty hard to beat a 90's era Christian Slater; Julianne Moore definitely gives him a run for his money, especially in her aerobics outfit, but Slater and Buscemi own this bit. The mummy in question actually looks really great, the kills are fun and there is even a little bit of a twist at the end.
Our second installment comes from the mind of Stephen King. This may be one of the many reasons that some people believe Tales From The Darkside was intended to be Creepshow 3. Directed by George Romero and using a story from Stephen King (you know, just like the Creepshow films) The Cat From Hell is a classic King story revolving around an evil animal. Seriously, the guy has a wee problem with animals.
A wealthy, elderly man (William Hickey) hires a hitman to kill a cat. Not just any cat. A black cat that he believes has caused the deaths of all of the other people who used to live in this house with him. Why would a cat do such a thing? Well, maybe old dude killed 5000 cats while testing a drug and this cat has been sent for the big payback.
The hitman, Halston, played by.....wait for it.....Buster Poindexter isn't buying any of this. He takes the job and assumes it will be the easiest $100,000 he'll make. Halston really should have believed the cat killer because the death he suffers is a pretty brutal one. Creative, but definitely not a pleasant one.
The final story Timmy tells is Lover's Vow. This is the one that tends to stick with most people and for good reason. Based on Japanese folklore, it focuses on a down on his luck artist who has the misfortune of witnessing a gruesome murder. A gargoyle type of creature murders his friends in front of him, but he is set free after promising to never speak of the incident to anyone.
After this incident, his life becomes instantly better; he meets a gorgeous woman, has two beautiful children with her and becomes a successful artist. If you haven't seen the movie, it would be a crime to spoil the rest of it. Suffice to say, Lover's Vow is a gorgeously sad love story with an especially clever horror angle.
So, what will become of Timmy, our paper boy who is to be stuffed like a turkey for dinner? I guess you'll just have to see the movie to find out. Tales From The Darkside came out in 1990 and it still holds up really well. I do believe I will need to put this film back into my holiday rotation.
You can find more reviews from Lisa at Haddonfield Horror.com