Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie



Three tales of horror in a movie version of the popular cult anthology series, Tales from the Darkside which aired during the 80s.

**½



For Lot 249, read Here.

One of the influences for the title of my blog, the show had its good and bad episodes, but the film overall kind of works the same way, tale to tale.

This film is recognized by Tom Savini as the third Creepshow, although I'm not sure why. At any rate...

Framework: **½
Lot 249: **½
Cat from Hell: **
Lover's Vow: ***½

The framework for this has a suburban woman (played by Deb Harry, in a piece of inspired casting) kidnapping and imprisoning a kid with plans to cook and eat him! But the kid (one of Lawrence boys) is able to delay this horrific ritual (I'm guessing she might have done this before!) by reading stories from a giant book provided by her to keep him occupied.



Then…the cat came.

“Over 4 years of testing, 5000 cats…”

 I jokingly look at “Cat from Hell” as the horror tale for the PETA faithful. Testing on animals before a drug goes to market had been commonplace when Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) was made. So the idea that a cat is “sent to get revenge” against a pharmaceutical company giant who put a specific drug on the market that is highly addictive and habit forming, with 5000 cats suffering for it during testing. The giant (played by William Hickie, the consummate Old Guy) hires a hitman to execute a black cat that arrived at his mansion and started killing his elderly family members (and manservant). This hitman believes the job will be easy, and this attitude is shattered thanks to the cat’s ability to outsmart him, always evading capture and attempts on its life.
The second of these tales is "Cat from Hell", about a pharmaceutical giant hiring a hitman to kill a pesky feline that has been responsible for the deaths of his family and manservant. The hitman thinks this will be an easy job, but he's in for a rude awakening!

David Johansen (of the former band, the New York Dolls, and he wasn't far removed from the Murray Christmas Carol parody, Scrooged (1988)) is the hitman who is humiliated by the cat he can never annihilate before it purposely leaps into his mouth, down his throat, and into his belly! Just writing that is absurd. Not sure of the point of all that, but Hickey returns to find Johansen, lying dead with his gun not far from his body on the floor, and eventually succumbs to a coronary as the cat hisses and hops on his lap. We get "cat POV" (in B&W), and the whole gruesome business of the cat going into the guy's mouth and later exiting as he entered is elaborated in detail. The special effects for this are rather startling. Well, the whole scene is rather startling...seeing it for the first time, I recall how shocking it was. So unexpected.

















"Lover's Vow" has James Remar, a struggling artist, encountering an actual living, breathing gargoyle, not long after it rips the head off a bartender (closing the bar). The monster "requests" Remar to keep what he has seen (especially the monster itself) secret and he can live. Just after this, Remar meets a hurried Rae Dawn Chong who is looking for a cab, claiming she was to meet friends. For whatever reason, she never leaves him, eventually having sex with him. The gargoyle, by the way, leaves a slash across Remar's chest as a warning/mark. Chong is pregnant not long after she and Remar continue a sexual relationship. Two kids and some success with his work in the art world, ten years go by and Remar feels it is perhaps the right time to tell Chong, his wife, about his experience with the gargoyle...big mistake!

Excellent animatronic effects of the gargoyle and a sincerely emotionally charged/sympathetic Remar lend a great deal to "Lover's Vow". Chong remains mysterious and seems to be a purposely elusive character, and when the secret is revealed we learn why. Tragic twist where a cultivated career and family life is ruined leaves a sad aftertaste. Some nasty gore involving gargoyle carnage. A bitten throat and head decapitation result from gargoyle violence. If only the Tales from the Darkside show had been provided a budget the money was fortunate to receive.











The framework story ends as expected with Matthew Lawrence, having been chained to a wall in his prison just waiting for one chance to save himself, achieves that when Harry unexpectedly finds herself in the oven!

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Ms45 w

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Lsho

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Ckvh

Ckvh

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Bw5

Bw5

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