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Tales From The Darkside started out as a horror anthology series produced by the legendary George A. Romero, that ran four seasons from October 1983 till July of 1988. In 1990 a movie version was released presenting a trio of terrifying tales tied together by a wraparound story. In the opening segment we see a young boy (Matthew Lawrence) being held in a cell by a witch (Deborah Harry). She plans to cook the kid as the main course for a dinner party and he tries to stall her by reading her stories from a book she left for him in his cell…Tales From he Darkside! As Timmy reads to prolong his fate, three tales of terror unfold!

All three stories and the wraparound are directed by John Harrison, a frequent Romero collaborator, though the script is by Romero and Michael McDowell and based on various works.

The first story is the lesser of the three and is based on a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Lot 249 involves betrayal, revenge, murder and an ancient Egyptian mummy. When student Bellingham (Steve Buscemi) is cheated out of a deserved scholarship, he uses the mummy to exact revenge on those responsible, Lee and Susan (Robert Sedgwick and Julianne Moore). The plot for retribution works out fine till Susan’s brother Andy (Christian Slater) tries to turn the tables on Bellingham for some revenge of his own. This segment is kind of ho-hum and comes to a predictable conclusion, but is still somewhat entertaining, has a good cast and is quite gory.

Second story is called The Cat From Hell and is based on a story by Stephen King. The tale finds pharmaceutical billionaire Drogan (William Hickey) hiring a hit man named Halston (David Johansen) to exterminate a black cat that Drogan claims has killed the rest of the members of his household. What ensues is a cat and mouse game…pun intended…throughout the dark mansion with predator hunting predator. It’s a fun episode, especially thanks to a lively and over-the-top performance from Johansen and has some really good gore. While the ending isn’t unexpected, it’s gruesome fun. Probably the best episode overall.

Final tale is a tragic love story called Lover’s Vow. Down on his luck artist Preston (James Remar) witnesses the savage murder of a local bartender by a creature resembling the local building gargoyles. He promises the creature, in return for his life, that he will never speak of it to anyone. On that same night Preston meets the beautiful Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) whom he falls in love with. The two wed and have children, but on one fateful night, Preston reveals his chilling tale to his loving wife…and with horrifying results. Story is the most serious of the bunch which otherwise have a bit of humor mixed in with the chills and as with the others, some nice gore. It too, is also a bit predictable, but works in spite of that.

We then return to the wraparound where Timmy is not going into the oven without a fight. Will he be freed or fried?…you’ll have to watch to find out!

Overall this is a fun anthology, though not a true classic. There is some nice nostalgia here too, as well as, some entertaining moments across the board. Harrison directs well and it is a fun horror flick in the spirit of Romero and King’s Creepshow from years earlier. Nothing overly special, but a solid good time. Did fairly well upon it’s release in 1990, but not enough to inspire a second go around.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 books of spooky stories.




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Sly Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a New Orleans hitman who, along with his partner, takes out a target. But, Jimmy and his partner are then targeted themselves by a vicious assassin, Keegan (Jason Momoa) and his partner is killed. Jimmy soon finds out that his target was a former DC cop and now reluctantly teams up with the cop’s ex-partner, Kwon (Sung Kang) to find out why the former cop was targeted and why he and his partner were double crossed. Obviously Bullet’s biggest problem is a convoluted and routine story of the usual conspiracy reaching high levels and prerequisite cover-up attempts. We even get Jimmy’s hot tattoo artist daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi) who exists only to be taken hostage at one point. Added to the been-there-done-that story is a slew of bad dialog including some awful Asian jokes made at Kwon’s expense. I’m not politically correct but, if you’re going to go that route, at least come up with something new and clever in the racial jokes department. The dialog in general is pretty lame so, at least a few good one liners would have been nice. Aside from the sub-par script, Walter Hill’s direction is pretty uninspired. The film is very by-the-numbers and there is little energy though, the two fights between Momoa and Stallone are fast paced and have some impact but, that’s it. What happened to the director who gave us classics like The Warriors and 48 Hours? As for the cast, despite not having much to work with, Stallone is solid. Between this, Rambo and The Expendables flicks, he plays the aging warrior well. Too bad he wasn’t doing it in a much better movie. Sung Kang is rather bland as the cop caught up in this mess but, it’s Stallone’s show and he is basically a tag along anyway. Momoa makes a good villain though and sexy Sarah Shahi is hot in the cliche’ family member/future hostage role so their reputations are safe. Rounding out the cast are Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Christian Slater as the generic and dull bad guys responsible for all the conspiracy and killing. Other then a few decent action scenes and some nice use of the New Orleans locations, there really isn’t much to recommend here unless you are a fan of one of the cast or Hill and feel you need to check it out for yourself. Completely generic and a definite misstep for Stallone during what is a nice career resurgence for him.

2 bullets!

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