The Horror Adaptation More Terrifying Than The Original Series

By Brian Myers | Published

tales from the darkside

The 1980s horror anthology series Tales from the Darkside gave audiences weekly chills and thrills directly from the writings of multiple genre writers. After the syndicated show’s cancellation in the summer of 1988, its creator Richard Rubenstein went to work with George Romero and Michael McDowell to make a full screen adaptation of the series. In 1990, the John Harrison-directed Tales from the Darkside: The Movie debuted in theaters and proved to be marginally more horrifying than the show it was based on.

Blondie Joins The Darkside

Tales from the Darkside opens with a middle-aged housewife (Deborah Harry) who is a modern witch. She is keeping a young paperboy (Matthew Lawrence) in a cell in her kitchen as she is preparing to cook him for her coven’s feast.

This plot serves as a wrap-around story for the film, as the boy works to stall his fate by telling his captor stories from a book that she had put into the cell with him.

Lot 249

tales from the darkside

The first tale he tells is “Lot 249,” based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story. The first Tales from the Darkside vignette follows a graduate student named Edward Bellingham (Steve Buscemi) who has been cheated out of a scholarship by fellow students Susan (Julianne Moore) and Lee (Robert Sedgwick). For revenge, Bellingham reads from an ancient Egyptian scroll he has recently obtained.

The scroll reanimates an ancient mummy which is set to commit his bidding. One student, Andy (Christian Slater), is aware of Bellingham’s plan and aims to thwart it. The twist ending of the first Tales from the Darkside entry is the perfect way to get the movie started, with Buscemi and Slater playing their adversarial roles to perfection.

The Cat From Hell

The second Tales from the Darkside entry is “The Cat from Hell.” Based on the Stephen King short story of the same name, it follows a hitman named Halston (David Johansen) that is hired by an elderly and wealthy invalid called Drogan (William Hickey). Drogan tells his hire that he is being plagued by an evil black cat that has taken the lives of three people in Drogan’s mansion. Drogan is offered $100,000 to kill the little creature, which proves to be a little more difficult than he bargained for.

Lover’s Vow

tales from the darkside

The third installment within Tales from the Darkside is the story of a struggling artist that has just been released from his agent. “Lover’s Vow” follows Preston (James Remar) as he drowns his sorrows at a local bar and then witnesses a horrific attack in an adjacent alley. While relieving himself, Preston sees a large gargoyle appear and decapitate his friend.

The gargoyle corners Preston and tells him that his life will be spared if he agrees to never talk of the encounter. Almost immediately, Preston’s luck changes and he finds true love, artistic success, and popularity.

But when he tries to break his promise of secrecy, this Tales from the Darkside episode ends in a way that is as gruesome as it is heartbreaking.

Stream It Now


Tales from the Darkside brings great actors together with a magnificent script that resulted in a production that has stood the test of time. The special effects are on point, reminiscent of Romero and Rubenstein’s earlier joint endeavor Creepshow.

You can watch Tales from the Darkside: The Movie by streaming it for free on Pluto. The film can also be seen On Demand with Vudu, AppleTV, and Prime.