Combustible Celluloid
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With: Debbie Harry, Matthew Lawrence, Christian Slater, Robert Sedgwick, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, David Johansen, William Hickey, Alice Drummond, Dolores Sutton, Mark Margolis, James Remar, Robert Klein, Rae Dawn Chong
Written by: Michael McDowell, George A. Romero, based on stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen King, etc.
Directed by: John Harrison
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 93
Date: 05/04/1990

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Story Hell-ing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on the TV series that ran from 1983 to 1988, this anthology horror movie was directed by John Harrison, who composed the memorable scores for George A. Romero's Creepshow and Day of the Dead; Romero wrote the screenplay for the second segment, Cat from Hell, based on a Stephen King story. In that one, an old millionaire (William Hickey) hires a hitman (David Johansen) to kill a cat he thinks is threatening his family.

The first segment, Lot 249, is based on an Arthur Conan Doyle story and is notable for its roster of up-and-coming stars. As revenge for being cheated out of a scholarship, a grad student (Steve Buscemi) reanimates a mummy to attack his tormenters. Julianne Moore plays one of them, and Christian Slater co-stars as her brother, who temporarily foils the evil plans.

Thirdly, we have Lover's Vow, adapted from a Japanese folk tale. An artist (James Remar) has an encounter with an evil winged creature; the creature spares his life in exchange for a promise that he will never reveal the creature's existence in any way. He meets a beautiful woman (Rae Dawn Chong) and his career takes off, but of course, the other shoe must drop.

Finally, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie has a wraparound segment, structured like Scheherazade in A Thousand and One Nights; a young boy has been captured and imprisoned by a witch (Deborah Harry), who prepares to cook him. He distracts her by reading her the three tales. Overall this is nothing major, but it is a lot of fun, given the coy, winking nature of the storytelling.

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