• Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 25th, 2020.
    Director: John Harrison
    Cast Debbie Harry, Christian Slater, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, James Remar, William Hickey, David Johansen
    Year: 1990
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    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie – Movie Review:

    Directed by John Harrison and spun off from the popular CBS television series Tales From The Darkside, 1990’s appropriately titled Tales From The Darkside: The Movie is a horror anthology film done in the style of the Amicus pictures that came out of the UK and 1982’s Creepshow. When the film opens, a woman named Betty (Blondie’s Debbie Harry) drives her Jeep to her nice suburban home and, upon entering her kitchen, opens a hidden door where a young boy named Timmy (Matthew Lawrence) has been stashed away with some cookies and a book. As Betty prepares to cook and then eat Timmy, he tries to stall her by reading her stories from the book. And thus we have our framing device.

    First up is Lot 249, based on the story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, begins when a college student named Andy (Christian Slater) talks to his friend Lee (Robert Sedgwick) had Susan (Julianne Moore), who just so happens to be dating Lee and also be Andy's sister, write Lee's term paper for him. This doesn't sit well with Andy but he bites his tongue. When they connect with fellow student Bellingham (Steve Buscemi), who lost out on the competition to Lee not because of the paper but because he was falsely accused of theft, they soon learn the truth about what it is Bellingham has purchased in a giant wooden crate labelled Lot 249.

    The second story is Cat From Hell and it tells the tale of a professional assassin named Halston (David Johansen of The New York Dolls) who meets with an aged pharmaceutical tycoon named Drogan (William Hickey) about a job only to learn that Drogan wants to pay him $100,000.00 to kill… his cat. This one was based on a short story by Stephen King and adapted for the screen by George A. Romero. Look for a cameo from Mark Margolis in this one too.

    The third and final story is Lover’s Vow, which begins when a starving artist named Preston (James Remar) is dumped by his agent, Wyatt (Robert Klein). He drowns his sorrows at a nearby watering hole and, one the way home, sees his friend attacked and killed by a gargoyle. When the beast attacks Preston, it agrees not to kill him if he promises never to tell anyone about what has just happened. Preston agrees and his life is spared. Moments later, he sees a woman named Carola (Raw Dawn Chong) and, fearing for her life, coerces her to go back to his place where they quickly begin a romantic relationship together. They get married and his career takes off, but repercussions from that night follow him into the present day.

    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie came out when I was fifteen and the film was rated R, meaning I couldn’t technically get in to see it but a few friends and I paid for whatever PG-rated film was playing next door and then shortly after it started made or way over to the theater showing this one. As such – full disclosure – nostalgia probably clouds my mind on this one a fair bit. That said, this one remains a good bit of fun. The stories are a bit on the predictable side, yes, but they’re paced well and the movie makes great use of a strong cast (David Johansen in particular is a blast to watch here, making you wish that ol’ Buster Poindexter had done more acting). The effects work by KNB Effects still holds up pretty well more than three decades after the film was made, and production values are pretty strong across the board.

    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation. Framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and giving the feature 29.4GBs of space on the 50GB disc, it looks quite good. Shout! Factory doesn’t say what source was used on this release, which probably means it was taken from an existing Paramount master, but it looks nice regardless. Detail is pretty strong throughout, particularly in close up shots but even in medium and long distance shots as well. Colors look really nice here throughout, skin tones look nice and natural and we get good black levels too. There’s a tiny bit of crush in a couple of darker scenes but it’s minor, the disc is otherwise nicely authored showing no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement and retaining the expected amount of natural film grain.

    English language audio options are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks, with removable subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 track spreads out some of the score and sound effects into the rear channels but keeps the dialogue pretty much entirely upfront in the mix. There’s a reasonable amount of depth to the track even if it isn’t as enveloping as the best surround mixes out there. The levels are balanced and the track is clean and clear and properly balanced throughout. No issues to report here at all, it sounds quite good.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with co-producer David R. Kappes moderated by Michael Felsher. The talk starts with a rundown of how he got started in the industry by accident after working in theater, his own cameo in the film as the waving priest in the opening scene, experiences during his early days in the business, working on Jaws 3-D, how he didn't really have any involvement at all with the TV series that the movie was based on, his role in the development of the movie, working with the cast and the crew involved in the production, shooting the wraparound story, his thoughts on each of the three main stories, stories from the set, having to be judicious in the use of gore and how he feels some of the sequences in the movie are a little much, the set design featured in the movie and lots more.

    Carried over from older releases is an archival commentary with director John Harrison and co-screenwriter George A. Romero. If you haven’t heard this one before, it’s worth checking out. Not surprisingly, as Harrison had more to do with the movie than Romero did, he’s got more to say about it but both men are engaging and sometimes quite amusing here as well, as they cover adapting the stories for the screen, some of the themes that the picture deals with, working with the cast and crew and more.

    However, the real draw in the extras on this release is Tales Behind The Darkside: The Making Of Four Ghoulish Fables, which is an all new, feature-length, six-part documentary produced by Red Shirt Pictures and made up of new interviews with director John Harrison, producer Mitchell Galin, director of photography Robert Draper, production designer Ruth Ammon, all three KNB effects guys (they being Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger), creature performer Michael Deak, editor Harry B. Miller and last but certainly not least, cast members James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong.

    The six parts that make up the piece are: From Small Screens To Big Screams / Rising Stars And The Walking Dead / That Damn Cat! / A Vow To Keep / The Order Of Things / The Test Of Time.

    Clocking in at over a hundred-minutes in length, this is a ridiculously in-depth look back at the making of the film, covering how the project came to be, the stories mined for the feature, what it was like on set and how some of the cast members were to work with, the writing, the directing, lots of detail on the effects set pieces, why the stories were presented in the order that they were presented in and lots more. It’s a length piece, but so too is it very worthwhile and genuinely interesting throughout.

    Aside from that, the disc also contains the film’s original theatrical trailer, a couple of TV spots, ninety-seconds of radio spots, a still gallery, a behind the scenes photo gallery and an eleven-minute selection of tape-sourced behind the scenes footage shot on a camcorder while the movie was in production that shows how some of the more impressive effects from the movie were created. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Shout factory also packages this with some nice reversible cover sleeve art with their newly designed piece on one side and the original theatrical poster art on the reverse. The first pressing also comes with a limited edition slipcover featuring the newly painted artwork.

    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie – The Final Word Review:

    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie doesn’t rank up there with the best of the horror anthology films but it’s a pretty solid entry with some memorable effects set pieces, a good cast and a few interesting twists in the storylines. Shout! Factory has done a very nice job with their collector’s edition Blu-ray release, bringing the film to high definition looking and sounding good and with an impressive array of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Tales From The Darkside: The Movie Blu-ray screen caps!