Whenever a person is taken hostage, the best thing they can do is buy time. Some how distract the kidnapper so that you have more time for a possible rescue or escape to take place. One of the best ways in doing this is with stories. Telling stories that attract the attention of the person will (hopefully) gain their attention and give you an opportunity to escape, like the daring kid in the 1990 release of John Harrison’s “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.”
Written by Michael McDowell (“Lot 249”, “Lover’s Vow”) and George A. Romero (Cat from Hell) the dialogue in this film was average at best. In some of the scenes where it tends to try to explain something it drags and I often found myself looking off of the screen. However for the most part it was paced well.
One of the first actors to really make an impression on me was ten year old Matthew Lawrence. To be such a young actor, he succeeded in bring energy and eagerness to the role of Timmy, and really seemed like he was fending for his life by reading these stories. Christian Slater and Steve Buscemi really shined in the first segment and i thought they were two of the better actors in the film. In the second segment, “Cat from Hell,” I really enjoyed William Hickey’s performance as the paranoid old man, and in the third and final segment, “Lover’s Vow,” Rae Dawn Chong, and James Remar gave two heart felt performances as well.
The plot was a typical setup for a number of anthology films. Three stories with a wraparound segment in between each story, much like the tradition of “Creepshow”, and “Body Bags”. The wraparound deals with a boy who gets kidnapped by a Witch, who plans on making him the main course at a dinner for her and her friends that evening. He delays his cooking by telling the Witch stories from the book entitled, Tales from the Darkside. The first story, “Lot 249,” was about a college geek who gets revenge on some students who screw him out of an award. I really felt this segment should have lasted longer to really get a feel for the emotions of the characters. Christian Slater’s role is a prime example of this. You really don’t believe he is upset when his best friend and sister get killed, which is why I think a longer running time for this segment would have done it wonders. The second segment, “Cat from Hell” was suppose to be a segment in the 1987 release of “Creepshow 2” but it was scrapped. I really enjoyed this because it was VERY original. As far as the storylines go in this film, this by far is hands down the best. The third and final segment, “Lover’s Vow,” goes through peaks and valleys. It shines bright in some scenes, and VERY dull in others. The story I felt jumped around WAY too much, even taking a jump to ten years later. For some reason it felt very jumpy to me.
The best music in this film was the music scores in “Lover’s Vow.” Of course once I went to check WHO composed it, it was none other than the film’s director, John Harrison. This guy is one of my FAVORITE composers, he’s also composed the music for “Creepshow,” and “Day of the Dead,” which are just superb!!!
Overall this film is very enjoyable. It’s not as good as some other anthology films out there, but it does make a name for itself. Kudos to Matthew Lawrence and John Harrison.
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