Friday, February 10, 2012

From the Late Night Cable Movie Files: Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

Spoiler alert: we're having Debbie for dinner!
Tonight, the midnight Lifetime Movie Network movie sounded basically like The Vow with reversed genders and probably more sordid murder, so I was pleased to see a real American Movie Classic playing on AMC: Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, a suitably terrible-looking substitute. Apparently Tales from the Darkside (yes, oneword) was a shitty '80s Twilight Zone ripoff produced by Godfather of All Zombies George Romero. And then in 1990, there was a movie with a shocking number of recognizable actors in it. Well, they're recognizable now anyway. Let me tell you a little bit about the premise of this film:

In the "wraparound" story, Debbie Harry from Blondie is a suburban witch (like black magic witch, not just mean) who is prepping for tonight's dinner party. The main dish for tonight is to be the middle Lawrence brother (the one that was on Boy Meets World), who is locked in her dungeon/pantry. She is upset little Not-Joey doesn't like the scary story book she left him to keep him entertained while obtaining other ingredients at the grocery store, but he changes his tune and promises to tell (read?) her some really good ones from the book to stall her from vivisecting and cooking him. Witchy Debbie loves the first story and puts off cooking him through two more. I will do you the favor of summarizing the content of each of these stories within the story.

1. "Lot 249"
In this spine-tingling tale, today's critically-acclaimed stars act out a plot nearly as cheesy as a David Duchovny-written episode of The X-Files. Basically some poor man's Cary Elwes is a rich snob whose girlfriend Julianne Moore writes him a scholarship essay that will let him pick up a Maserati while traveling in Europe this summer. Julianne Moore's brother Christian Slater goes to the same college and lives in a creepy old apartment building being passed off as a dorm with giant fireplace-containing apartments. His downstairs neighbor is a somehow even skinnier than now Steve Buscemi. Buscemi's "part-time" job involves trafficking antiquities while he's not writing his master's thesis in somethingorather. OBVIOUSLY.

Long story short, Buscemi figures out the blond guy and Julianne Moore set him up so he would lose the scholarship, which he actually needs because, like, he needs money even though he apparently has enough to buy a genuine 3000 year-old Egyptian sarcophagus complete with resurrectible mummy! He also has it delivered to his apartment by regular moving guys somehow. Buscemes can of course read and translate ancient hieroglyphics from some magic scroll to make the mummy wake up and kill his enemies. Christian Slater thinks he gets Buscemi back for killing his sister and best friend by burning up the mummy piece-by-piece and what turns out to be a phony scroll. But Buscemi actually turned the murder victims into new mummies that will do his bidding and get Christian Slater. Highlight: when the mummy crams Julianne Moore's boyfriend's funeral flowers into her cut-open back while she's still alive.

2. "Cat from Hell"
The senile father from Forget Paris is a rich old man in a mansion who hires a hitman to kill an evil black cat. The cat kills everyone. AWESOME special effects.

3. "Lover's Vow"
Some struggling artist witnesses a monster kill some guy in an alley, but the monster will spare the artist if he promises to never tell anyone about what he saw. A mysterious new woman appears in his life and helps turn everything around. On their tenth anniversary, he tells his now-wife about the secret monster, who of course secretly IS the monster and now turns back into it. Haha! It looks like a giant gremlin. Haha! Their two beautiful daughters are also little gremlins now! And they've turned (back?) into a gargoyle. Highlight: understated Gremlins cross-marketing.

Back in the witch kitchen (witchen?). Oh, little Timmy got abducted while out collecting for his brother's paper route. Paper routes are so rife with dangerous magical beings. Anyway, Timmy plays a trick on the witch with marbles and she falls on her sharp child-cutting tools and he manages to unlock himself and he shoves her in the oven "Hansel and Gretel"-style. The actual end.

Overall rating: 3/5 ironic thumbs up.

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