Released by: Shout! Factory
Released on: February 28th, 2017.
Director: Jeffrey Delman
Cast: Scott Valentine, Melissa Leo, Nicole Picard, Matt Mitler
Year: 1986 Purchase From Amazon
Fans of low budget eighties horror oddities should get a kick out of 1986’s Deadtime Stories. Directed and co-written by Jeffrey Delman and staffed almost entirely with a bunch of college students, it’s a movie that wears its impoverished aesthetic on its sleeve – and would seem to be an unlikely candidate for a feature-laden Blu-ray release. But here we are, like it or not Scream Factory has breathed new life into this one.
One of many eighties anthology horror pictures, this one starts off with an Uncle Mike (Michael Mesmer) reading some spooky stories to Brian (Brian DePersia), the nephew he’s babysitting for the night. Mike’s hopes are that the kid will eventually go to bed so that he can watch some trashy TV and throw back a few beers, but before he’ll do that, he’s insistent that Mike tell him some stories, and so he does.
This bridges the rest of the stories together, starting with The Black Forrest. Here a young man named Peter (Scott Valentine – yep, the guy from Family Ties) works in servitude to two sisters, both witches. His job is to convince the occasional citizen of the nearby village to travel up to their cabin in the woods where the ladies then dismember them and use them in arcane rituals, all of which is intended to help them resurrect a third sister, recently deceased. This is all well and good until Peter falls in love with a pretty village girl that the witches intend to use as their next victim.
Up next is Little Red Running Hood, the story of a woman named Rachel (Nicole Picard) who lives with her grandmother. She and her dreamy boy toy deflower one another in a shed, and shortly after, through a pharmacy mix-up, Grandma winds up with the pills that were meant for a man named Willie (Matt Mitler). Grandma is alright with this though, these sedatives are awesome… but they were also the only thing keeping Willie from turning into a werewolf when the moon is full.
Last but not least, Goldi Lox And The Three Baers follows a trio of bank robbers made up of Judith ‘Mama’ Baer (Melissa Leo), her husband Beresford 'Papa' Baer (Kevin Hannon) and their son Wilmont 'Baby' Baer (Timothy Rule). When they head back to their house to hideout after their latest job, they’re startled not only to learn that Goldi Lox (Cathryn de Prume) has taken up residence there, but that she’s also a telekinetic psychopath. Although the house is now full of dead bodies, the Baers have to wonder if she might not be a great addition to their team.
The effects are cheap, the sets not always so polished looking and the makeup often times just plain bad, but there’s enough goo and gore and nonsense here to make the whole thing enjoyable enough. There’s clearly a lot of spirit and ambition on display and you have to admire the fact that lack of budget didn’t stop anyone from trying. None of this is really supposed to be taken too seriously, there’s clearly a sense of humor running throughout the picture but the movie earns its R-rating with some moderately nasty sequences. Rough around the edges or not, this is a kick. The stories might be hokey and more than a little predictable but they get the job done and the wrapping segments are genuinely funny. Throw in an oddball soundtrack composed by Larry Juris (who also scored Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle and The Erotic World Of Angel Cash) and it’s hard not to have a good time with this.
Deadtime Stories looks quite good on Blu-ray, presented on a 50GB disc in 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks really, really nice. Taken from a new scan of the original 35mm negative, this is clean and colorful boasting very good detail and texture throughout. Black levels are solid and color reproduction is spot on. There doesn’t appear to be any heavy noise reduction nor are there any issues with noticeable edge enhancement. The disc is free of compression artifacts and offers up a nice, film-like picture.
The only audio option for the disc is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, though subtitles are provided in English. Audio quality is fine. There isn’t a ton of range here and things are a little bit on the flat side but there are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced.
Extras start off with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Jeffrey Delman and it’s a pretty thorough look back at how and why this movie was made and turned out the way that it did. Delmen’s memory is very sharp, he remembers pretty much every actor who worked with him on the picture and has stories about most of them. He talks up the locations, discusses when and where studio sets were used, shares some amusing stories about some of the props and set decorations and also offers up some insight into the script and the cinematography. Great stuff.
Shout Factory has also supplied few exclusive featurettes, starting with I Like The Grotesque, which is a fifteen minute interview with Delman. This covers a bit of the same ground as the commentary, but he also goes into detail about how he got into filmmaking, using school connections to get this done, the fairy tales that influenced the picture and more. From there we get a selection of interviews with cast members Cathryn de Prume, Melissa Leo and Scott Valentine in a fifteen minute featurette entitled A Band Of Gypsies. They share some fun stories from the shoot, supply some quick background information on their past and generally just offer up a whole lot of anecdotes and fun facts about the picture.
Also on hand is The Black Forest, a thirty minute alternate cut of the story featured in Deadtimes Stories. At one point in time, this story was going to be made as a standalone feature. That didn’t happen, loads of reshoots and editing work was done and then it wound up as you see it in Deadtime Stories. This version is an interesting variant.
Outside of that we get a pair of theatrical trailers, two minutes of deleted scenes with an intro from Delman, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release the standard sized Blu-ray keepcase also includes a DVD version of the movie that uses a standard definition port of the same transfer and includes the same bonus features.
The Final Word:
Deadtime Stories is pretty goofy stuff but it’s definitely entertaining if you’re in the right mood for it. Though never particularly scary, it’s wacky enough to easily hold your attention and the amount of love and care that Scream Factory has put into this restored and feature packed release is commendable.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!