I just love my 80s horror anthologies, especially the lesser known films. So that’s why I’m taking on two goodies from the video rental days: Deadtime Stories and From a Whisper to a Scream (aka: The Offering).
Deadtime Stories (1986)
I’ll get it out of the way. The highlight of Deadtime Stories is that Scott Valentine, who played Mallory’s hunky dumb boyfriend on Family Ties, gets naked and shows off the amazing ass. However, he’s doing it in front of two hag witches, so you kind of have to block that part out. Here. I cropped it for you.
The wraparound story is about this uncle babysitting his nephew. Odd setup, right? But uncle is definitely straight because he likes talking about boobs in the 3 scary stories he tells. One he makes up, the other two are based on fairy tales (which means, he tells them more like they were originally written…to traumatize children).
The first story is a witches/graveyard tale. This one is farcical thanks to the bantering witches trying to resurrect their third sister. Hocus Pocus inspiration, perhaps? The boy asks for the story to end more scary, so the uncle does a quick rewrite and offers an alternate ending. Cute.
The second story is my favorite. This is straight up werewolf horror based on Little Red Ridinghood (a very horny Red Ridinghood!). The pharmacist mixes up her granny’s prescription with that of a dude who needs sleeping pills for a nightly condition….
In the 3rd story, Goldi Lox and the “Baer” family escape from the insane asylum and go on a campy, demented road trip. The Deadtime Rejects? Eh.
The quick “shocker” ending of the wraparound is really predictable.
From a Whisper to a Scream (1987)
A chick is sentenced to death for murder and a reporter is then told four tales of terror by her uncle, played by Vincent Price!
The first story is classic “Tales from the Crypt” stuff. This older dude, played by Clu Gulager, cares for his ill sister, bathing her regularly (it’s a little weird). However, he likes younger women. He’s also creepy so he never really gets the girl he wants—unless he kills her. But in the game of dead dating, your past relationships sometimes come back to haunt you. This one is monster goodness!
Amazingly, Price’s interlude here involves a tale of a lesbian librarian! Very unusual for the time.
The second story has a macabre Twilight Zone twist. A scumbag dude goes to extremes to get an eternal life potion from a voodoo witch doctor, and soon finds out that sometimes, living forever is not always as much fun as it sounds.
The third story is a tale of carnival “freaks” that get their special talents at a cost. The glass eater wants out of the carnival! When he runs away, he finds out that the glass wants out, too….
The fourth story is a pretty fiendish period piece, so I actually liked it instead of despising it as I do most period piece horror. Cameron Mitchell is a Civil War army sergeant kidnapped by a bunch of kids who want back what the war has taken from them. It’s essentially a retelling of Children of the Corn in which the children actually have a motivation.
While the wraparound conclusion is pretty lame (aren’t most of them?), there is a great moment in which Vincent Price toasts both Poe and Lovecraft. Nice.
Some great stories, some forgettable stories. Yeah. Deadtime Stories and From a Whisper to a Scream are so typical of horror anthology films. And that’s a good thing.