1990’s “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” has a lot in its corner with me. It’s a childhood favorite, has a ton of sentimental value, and it’s a damn good anthology horror film. It almost feels like the lost “Creepshow” movie that we never got in theaters, which is a shame as the movie is very well produced and directed. It’s creepy, darkly humorous, and has a great pair of wraparound segments that hearkens back to the vicious violence of the Brothers Grimm.
In a deceptively safe suburban home, Betty (Deborah Harry) is preparing a special meal for a dinner party, with the main course a boy named Timmy (Matthew Lawrence), who’s kept in a cage as the chef organizes her ingredients. In a plan to delay the unthinkable, Timmy distracts Betty with horror stories from a “Tales from the Darkside” book. In “Lot 249,” bitter scholar Edward (Steve Buscemi) procures a mummy for dissection, taking control of a special scroll capable of awakening the monster. He sics the creature on rival Lee (Roger Sedgewick), while Andy (Christian Slater) tries to figure out what’s terrorizing his home and threatening his sister, Susan (Julianne Moore).
In the demented “Cat from Hell,” a vicious hit man Halston (David Johansen) is summoned to the mansion of pharmaceutical titan Drogan (William Hickey), and accepts a mission to kill a black cat the old, wheelchair-bound man is profoundly afraid of. What starts as a simple pet extermination transforms in to something so much more horrendous. In “Lover’s Vow,” Preston (James Remar) is a struggling artist who has a close encounter with a demonic figure, promising the creature he will never share a word about their confrontation, finding his life soon changed by the arrival of Carola (Rae Dawn Chong).
With still startling effects from KNB, a wicked appearance from Debbie Harry, and a stellar cast, “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” is the perfect companion with the “Creepshow” films, and an anthology gem worth checking it out if you haven’t by now.
There are two commentaries, one with co-producer David R. Kappes, and another with director John Harrison and co-writer George A. Romero. Tales Behind the Darkside: From Small Screens to Big Screams is the first chapter of the making-of, discussing the creation of “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” with director John Harrison, producer Mitchell Galin, cinematographer Robert Draper, production designer Ruth Ammon, and special makeup effects artists Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero, and Robert Kurtzman. The interviewees track the development of the original television series, which became a hit for producers Richard P. Rubinstein and George A. Romero. A feature was pitched, commencing the gathering of stories and the creation of a screenplay, while the look of the picture was heavily considered for the brand name’s big screen debut.
Rising Stars and the Walking Dead is the second chapter of the making-of, taking a closer look at the shooting of “Lot 249.” Makeup details are identified, and casting is celebrated, with Christian Slater returning to “Tales from the Darkside” duty (he appeared in a season one episode), while Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore (making her big screen debut) filled out the ensemble. That Damn Cat! is the third chapter of the making-of, exploring “Cat From Hell,” a Stephen King short story that was originally intended for “Creepshow 2” before becoming part of “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.” A Vow to Keep is the fourth chapter of the making-of, examining “Lover’s Vow,” which highlights the Japanese folklore it was inspired by.
Gargoyle design and lighting is detailed, and puppet challenges are discussed, including a frustrating night in the freezing NYC cold. Chong’s gruesome transformation is also examined. The Order of Things is the fifth chapter of the making-of, covering the post-production process on “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.” Deleted scenes are explored, including a re-shot ending for “Lot 249,” and Harrison and Miller III reveal how story order was reworked after test screenings, resulting in a continuity error in the wraparound segment that couldn’t be corrected. The Test of Time is the final chapter of the making-of, delving into the release of the feature, which was picked up by Paramount, handed a decent marketing push. Release woes and reviews are recounted, along with fan appreciation, giving the effort cult longevity.
The Eleven minutes Behind the Scenes offer home movies from KNB, observing their efforts as they test makeup effects and execute nightmare imagery on-set. The Image Gallery collects film stills, publicity shots, and poster art, The KNB Gallery collects personal photos of make-up application and workplace testing. There are three Radio Spots for “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.” Two T.V. Spots, and finally the original Theatrical Trailer is included.