|Harriet Von Lupin
Hi there! Gosh, it’s just about time! Harriet Von Lupin, your raving reporter here for The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween, and today we’re going to talk about another of these anthology thingies. This one is one that Mad Doc remembers from watching it on TV, when he was like our age. It’s called Tales From The Darkside, and it must have been pretty good, ‘cause there was a movie too, and we’re also gonna talk about that!
|TFTD's title card
Tales From The Darkside got started because the movie Creepshow was successful (I talked about that one here!), and so people in TV got talking about about a TV series. Because Warner Bros. Studios owned some stuff in Creepshow, the guys at Laurel Entertainment (who produced Creepshow) decided to go in another direction, and came up with Tales From The Darkside. The new name kind of went along with what Creepshow was, which was a live-action horror comic. Even though TFTD wasn’t comic-booky like Creepshow, the stories in it were still kind of like that, with bad guys who did bad things and then paid for it through supernatural means. George Romero, who had directed Creepshow and some other famous horror movies (hi there, Night Of The Living Dead!) executive-produced the series with Richard P. Rubinstein (meaning they had something to do with everything!)
Like other famous anthology series such as Twilight Zone, Thriller, and The Outer Limits, TFTD had famous writers supplying stories for episode scripts. Both of Stephen King’s short stories “Word Processor Of The Gods” and “Sorry, Right Number” got turned into TFTD episodes, along with other stories by Frederik Pohl, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch (boy, he sure turns up a lot), Harlan Ellison, John Cheever and Michael McDowell. TFTD was a hit with horror fans, and ran for four seasons in weekly syndication from Tribune Broadcasting, with a lot of loyal viewers (even though they aired it after midnight!). After TFTD wound up, a similar series called Monsters, also produced by Laurel Entertainment and Richard Rubinstein, came out, and it was a hit too! (Maybe we’ll talk about that one a little later!)
|The poster for TFTD: The Movie
In 1990, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie came out, and because both Romero and King were involved (one of the stories was scripted by Romero from a story by King) a lot of people started calling this one the unofficial third Creepshow movie. It starts out with a modern-day witch (Debbie Harry) preparing to, um, prepare a kid she has captured as the main course for a dinner party. (Hey, y’all, this is Punkin, and I’m here to tell you that don’t no witches eat no children. That’s just a fib. --P. Nightshade) To stall for time, the kid (Matthew Lawrence) tells her three stories from a book she gave him, called Tales From The Darkside.
The first one is a story called “Lot 249,” based on a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote all those Sherlock Holmes stories. In it, a grad student (Steve Buscemi) has been cheated by two other students (Robert Sedgwick and Julianne Moore) out of a scholarship, and even framed for theft! So he does what any grad student would do in his situation: he sends a mummy after ‘em. Like, it’s even there in the university class catalog. “How To Raise The Dead For Fun And Profit.” (Ha! That’s a joke!)
|The star of "The Cat From Hell"
The second one is called “The Cat From Hell,” and this is the one that Romero and King did. In it, a really rich old guy in a wheelchair (William Hickey) calls a professional hitman (David Johansen) in for an unusual job: kill a black cat, which the old guy believes has already murdered the rest of his family. See, the old guy runs a pharmaceutical company, which killed about 5,000 black cats through drug testing, and he thinks the black cat’s trying to get revenge. Well, you can’t tell about cats (believe me, buddy, I’m a werewolf and I know), but the hitman takes the hire, since the old guy’s offering a BIG paycheck for killing the cat. You probably can already figure out that this isn’t going to go so well…
|The gargoyle from "Lover's Vow"
The last one, “Lover’s Vow,” written by Michael McDowell, is kinda sad even though it’s scary. It’s both a love story and a horror story, and it’s about this failed artist (James Remar) who witnesses a gargoyle killing a victim. The gargoyle agrees not to kill the artist guy if he swears to never tell anyone what he’s seen, or try to tell people what the gargoyle looks like. (Of course, the artist guy agrees because he doesn’t want to die.) Soon after, Artist Guy meets this beautiful woman (Rae Dawn Chong) who becomes his girlfriend, and after that things start turning around for him—his art becomes really successful, and he starts becoming this rising star in the art world. But he can’t get the gargoyle out of his mind, and, well, he’s an artist. And all those bad memories have to go somewhere, so how long is it gonna be before the secret is out? And of course, at the end of the movie, we have to find out what happens to the witch and the kid… is it gonna be a happy ending, or not?
Both the series and the movie are really cool horror stories, and if you can find them on DVD or the streaming thingys, they’re perfect Halloween viewing. And that’s it for me, but we’re gonna have more stuff going on in the next post for The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween! OWW-WOOOOO!!!
Harriet Von Lupin
MAD DOCTOR’S NOTE: Tales From The Darkside (both series and movie) are available on DVD from Amazon, and TFTD: The Movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime for your viewing fright. You’re welcome.
|"Hey, you wanna hear a story?"