HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Deadtime Stories
HTS Overall Score:74
Horror films encompass such a wide variety of styles and sub genres that it’s almost mind boggling. Comedic films, slasher films, spiritual horror, old fashioned monster movies, body horror, insane mental asylum escapees, you name it. Not to mention there’s a dozen ways to package the tales too. Long standing series, one offs, and then there’s anthology films. Anthology horror sets haven’t enjoyed a large variety of popularity outside of TV shows like “The Crypt Keeper”, but there are a few that stand out as really excellent (Like “Trick R Treat”), and then there’s some that stand out due to their campy 80s nature. “Deadtime Stories” is that second type of film, chock full of cheesy 80s camp and a trilogy of terrible and gruesome stories with just a little bit of self-awareness thrown in for good measure (a LOT of self-awareness on the final story I might add). It’s not a great anthology, but it brings back some good memories of childhood terror and is nowhere as terrible as I thought it was back in 1986 (even though it scared the tar out of young me).
The framework for the movie revolves around young Brian (Brian Depersia) and his Uncle Mike (Michael Mesmer). Brian is having a REALLY hard time getting to sleep, thinking that monsters are under the bed or in his closet, while poor frustrated Uncle Mike is trying to watch some Nudey HBO special downstairs. Little Brian desperately wants a bed time story to help him go to sleep, so Uncle Mike begrudgingly obliges by telling him three different stories (one for each time he has to come upstairs and tuck his young nephew into bed).
The first is about a pair of witches who are trying to cast a spell to bring their dead sister back to life. The witches have a young slave (ish) by the name of Peter (Scott Valentine), who helps them with their dastardly deeds. However, things change a bit when one of his tasks is to bring in a young virgin for the classic virgin sacrifice needed to bring the dead witch back to life. Naturally Peter is a bit put off by the witch’s intent to murder an innocent woman (especially one so lovely), and takes matters into his own hands to get her out of their clutches. It’s a bit goofy at times, but more of a classic horror film, that is up until the very end when young Brian doesn’t like the “happily ever after” ending his uncle devised and makes him change it to a more “gruesome” one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92105[/img]The second story shows Uncle Mike’s increasing frustration with Brian, as he retells the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood with a rather naughty twist. This time Red Riding Hood is a voluptuous young tart by the name of Rachel (Nicole Picard), who runs into the titular big bad wolf (a werewolf named Willie) and the standard disastrous results incur. Well, except for the fact that Willie doesn’t WANT to be the big bad wolf, and Rachel is a bit of a “bad girl” when it comes to boys. That and the fact that Granny isn’t exactly going to let the story end in a “happily ever after.
Last, but not least, Uncle Mike gives us the most ludicrous of the three tales. Goldi Lox (Cathryn De Prume) and the three Bears. This time the Bears are actually the Bear family, a trio of psychotic criminals who have been in prison for quite some time. Mama Bear breaks them out and off on a crime spree they go. This time they meet Goldi Lox, a pretty little blonde girl who just so happens to be a serial killer who murders boys who want to get intimate with her (and anyone else she comes into contact with). Baby Bear (a horribly mentally handicapped dolt of the family) falls in love with Goldi, but this time the story DOES end with a happily ever after (at least for the criminals).
There’s a lot of good horror anthologies out there, but “Deadtime Stories” is a campy little piece of 80s kitsch that some people will find a bit TOOO campy. I still had a fun time with the stories, but sometimes the tales missed as many times as they hit. The original opening story with Peter and the witches is not bad, and actually has the most amount of true horror in the story, but the stories get progressively different as the movie goes on (and Uncle Mike gets more and more frustrated with young Brian). Riding Hood is more of a sexually frustrated Mike trying to get back downstairs to watch some nude HBO show that Brian is interrupting him from, while the Three Bears story is just plain lunacy. The entire 25-minute story is more of a “Three Stooges” does horror bit than something you can take out as ACTUAL horror.
I had almost forgotten that “Deadtime Stories” was very much a tongue in cheek movie that very blatantly revels in intentional campiness. Sadly, this is where things get a little too cheesy. The creators had their heart in the right place, but they couldn’t seem to find that right amount of horror and silliness on the scale. Too many times it swung really hard towards the silly end of things, and the Goldi Lox story just went straight slapstick. Still, it was a fun piece of my childhood and Scream Factory has done a great job of bringing this one back to life. A movie that I don’t think every had a DVD release in the U.S.
Rated R by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92113[/img]Scream Factory announced with this release that they were going back to the original negative and giving us a brand-new remastering of the film, something which I’ve heard was BADLY needed. While it isn’t going to look AMAZING being a slim budgeted 80s film, the results are generally pretty spectacular. There are some spots and speckles here and there, but overall, it’s a very filmic presentation with some pretty impressive detailing. The rubber prosthetics sometimes standout with the increased resolution and clarity, but the individual detailing on clothes and other set pieces more than make up for it. Certain sections of the movie could pass for 90s film it looks so impressive. Blacks are strong and inky, though there is some crush to contend with.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92121[/img]The same thing goes for the sound design. Scream Factory has given us the original 2.0 Mono track to enjoy and it is about as good of a track as you can get considering the design. Dialog is the main focus here and it comes across well, with the limited sound effects coming through the 2 mains with near picture perfect clarity. The LFE is a bit anemic (quite understandably), but I can’t complain about Scream’s encoding as this was never a huge budget release to begin with. It’s just a straight forward and simple 2.0 Mono track without many flaws at all.
• NEW High-Definition Transfer From the Original Negative
• NEW Audio Commentary with co-writer/director Jef Delman
• NEW I Like the Grotesque – an interview with co-writer/director Jef Delman
• NEW interviews with and actors Cathryn de Prume, Melissa Leo and Scott Valentine
• The Black Forest – an alternate cut of the first story
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailers
• Still Gallery
“Deadtime Stories” isn’t a fantastic horror anthology, but it captures that campy feel of so much 80s shlock to a T. The trilogy of terror is less terrifying than you’d think, but more of an ooey gooey comedy with a wink and a nod to the viewer. Being that this never had a domestic DVD release worth anything to compare it against (I believe there was a DVD by Image Entertainment back in 2011, but there’s not much info on it) the Blu-ray looks rather solid and sounds good. The extras are the real goodies, as I don’t remember even the domestic releases of the film had anything worthwhile on them, making it a bit more of an attractive purchase for fans. For those who haven’t checked it out yet I’d say it’s more of a rental (fans will naturally think differently).
Starring: Scott Valentine, Nicole Picard, Matt Mitler
Directed by: Jeffrey Delman
Written by: Jeffrey Delman, J. Edward Kiernan
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Buy Deadtime Stories On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Cheesy Rental
More about Mike