As a kid, it took very little to get under my skin. It took even less for stuff to seem memorable to me to the point I have nostalgia for things I have no justifiable reason to have nostalgia for. That being said here is a prime example of the darkside to childhood nostalgia in the form of a horror anthology- a genre I’ve been wishing would come back. Had I watched this to prepare myself for the reappearance of anthologies I probably would have felt a lot different. The movie in question is TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, a collection of horror shorts that have a few cool things about them, but looking back, this is really silly stuff.
The film begins with a woman preparing too cook a child that is locked behind bars while she prepares the meal. The child finds a way to distract her by reading stories from a book that include subjects such as a mummy (reasonable enough), a gargoyle (heck yeah, sounds awesome so far) and a killer black cat (ummmm, what?). If that were the lineup of the stories it would seem odd to end on the clearly out of place cat story, but if you think about it, leading off with that might lose people from the get go and ending on it would leave an even worse taste in your mouth. In the film itself the cat comes second, which is probably best to surround it with the two “strongest” segments and hide the really dumb one in the middle. Well, they are all pretty dumb so don’t breath that sigh of relief too early.
The mummy story is okay enough, just really boring and it stars Christian Slater and Steve Buscemi so at least there are some recognizable faces to guide us through. The gargoyle segment has some pretty cool gore moments and as a kid I remember feeling that the romance within the story was kind of sexy, but again I was a kid what the hell did I know? Then of course there’s the cat- a cat that SPOILER ALERT: overpowers a grown man who I assume is of reasonable strength. Granted the moment that this adorably feeble looking animal gets the best of said grown man it is a pretty awesome, if ridiculous moment- one that might actually save how stupid the whole thing is. The footage of the cat is shot so hilarious bad that not for a second should this cat ever be considered a threat except that they show it looking sternly at the camera and hissing a few times. I will say though having a cat mercilessly claw at my junk is a great fear of mine.
Naturally, since everything seems so schlocky the script isn’t very strong and each story has moments where I basically checked out and new from then on whatever happened was going to be hilariously cheesy or surprisingly effective. Suffice to say as the only surprisingly effective elements are based entirely in the violent and gorey moments and essentially only effective in the sense that at least there was something cool to watch. Although I do have to say that the creature design for the gargoyle was also pretty sweet.
Yes indeed nostalgia is not always a good thing and when it comes to TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE I have to question rather it was nostalgia at all and was instead childhood/adolescent ignorance. The film isn’t a total waste of time, but it is most certainly not something having now rewatched it would ever make the mistake of watching from beginning to end ever again. It may be irresponsible of me to condone fast-forward only to see the more violent parts of the film, but at the same time that is about the only way to get enjoyment from an otherwise extremely mediocre effort.