Posts Tagged ‘Anthology’

Let’s be perfectly honest, this is not the best anthology series in the history of ever. I’m not going to do the run down of Stephen King’s career, or chronicle the ups and downs of his work here. Lately, I’ve found that no two people can really agree when exactly it was that they stopped loving the man’s work or when exactly things just plain stopped working for them. My particular view is that King has always been sort of lopsided and uneven. There are moments of brilliance and moments that don’t work and it’s up to each person to pick and choose what does and doesn’t work for them. However, for the most part, Nightmares & Dreamscapes didn’t much work for me. One problem was that it was greatly shot in Australia, but it’s trying to look like America (Or in one case, London) and it just doesn’t. That’s less of a problem here, as part of the show was shot in San Francisco (or someplace trying to look like it mixed with stock footage and matte shots) and the other part was just on a soundstage. None of that is very important though, the only really important question is “Does it work?” or possibly “Is it entertaining?” since I’ve admitted things that are complete train wrecks can be entertaining.

Well, the answer is “Yes.” A further answer might be, “It’s not the best Stephen King adaptation that’s ever been made, but it’s certainly the most fun.”

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TV Review: Tales from the Darkside “Seasons of Belief”

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Tales from the Darkside: Seasons of Belief (Season 3, Episode 11; First Broadcast December 29, 1986; Laurel Productions; Dir. Michael Mc Dowell)

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What say we get this VEWPRF season started off right? What better way to get a season started than with an episode of my favorite TV show? That’s right, I’ve got a holiday episode of Tales from the Darkside and I’m not afraid to review it! Like so many other Darkside episodes, this one is based on a short story. This time it’s based on a short story by Michael Bishop a Locus and Nebula Award winning writer. The screen play was written by Michael McDowell who also directed the episode. McDowell is also the man who created Beetlejuice as well as wrote some two dozen books. So what I’m saying is, in this episode, we’re in good hands. Unlike some holiday episodes, this will be a joy to watch. And with that, I just guaranteed you won’t even read past the opening paragraph, didn’t I? Look, I like some things, okay? I try to review things I think I’ll enjoy. Of course, since my program is being handed to me by forces I don’t really understand, it might be crap. I can’t see that happening since at worst a Darkside episode is just dull, but it might. C’mon! Read on and see what happens!

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Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983 Warner Bros. Dir. John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante & George Miller)

Hey! An anthology without AIP, Vincent Price or Stephen King’s writing! It’s not even based or inspired by EC comics! Woo! Something different. This time it’s the movie based on the Twilight Zone TV show, which probably was only made after everyone saw how well Creepshow did. Far as I can tell, Steven Spielberg & John Landis put this joint together with Frank Marshall as the Executive Producer. Sort of like how after Tales from the Darkside did so well, Spielberg made Amazing Stories. That’s not to say that this is bad or anything, just saying that it’s a copycat production made after Romero proved that it could be done. I will say however that this sort of a crystallization of these directors in that time period. Everything you want to know about Landis, Spielberg, Dante and Miller in the early 1980s, you can learn by watching this movie. They pretty much bring all their early 80s tropes with them to this production. Is that good? Is it bad? We’ll have to see…

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Creepshow 2 (1987 New World Pictures Dir. Michael Gornick)

How do you follow the success of one of the most popular horror anthology movies ever? You make Tales from the Darkside for TV of course. What if you’re knee deep in that program and someone reminds you that Creepshow was a theatrical release and that they’d like to have another movie? Well, if you make a sort of halfhearted sequel that’s under funded and as a result fails to capture quite the spirit of the original. I place no blame at the feet of director Michael Gornick. I’ve listened to his commentary and it sounds like he made the best product he could with the tools he was given to work with. The problem was that New World Pictures was trying to make the movie on less than half what the first movie cost, which I can’t help but wonder if that frustrated Romero, which caused him to pass on directing duties. As I understand it, Romero was going to write and direct, and then decided to pass the directing duties to Tom Savini, who either because of time or not wanting to deal with what was becoming a cost cutting adventure passed it on to Gornick. Additionally, because of some production problems, the bonding company ended up placing extra pressure on the company asking them to speed up the production. So, there was some frustration in production, and that caused the end product to be less than stellar. It’s not even that this is bad, or not an enjoyable ride. It’s good, it’s fun, it’s just not as good or as fun as the original. It’s worth watching though, so let’s dive in and check it out.

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Twice-Told Tales (1963 United Artists Dir. Sidney Salkow

Hey, how about that? An anthology horror movie that isn’t based on Stephen King stories or was made by the good people at American International (a name that frankly confounds me) for a change. It still has Vincent Price in it though, so we’re not totally out to sea without a familiar landmark. We got Vinnie, we’re good. After Tales of Terror did so well, one assumes United Artists wanted to get in on the horror anthology game. Since AIP had a lock on Edgar Allan Poe’s work, UA went for three stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Or, maybe they never even heard about Tales of Horror and it was just chance that they got AIP’s biggest star to be in a horror movie for them. Sure, that’s probably it… chance. Probably just chance that it looks like a Corman Poe movie too.

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Tales of Terror (1962 AIP Dir. Roger Corman)

Right before the out and out comedy of The Raven, the idea of adding a little lightness was experimented with in Tales of Terror. This is a little set of three Edgar Allan Poe stories, but done in that very special Corman way, by which I mean they only vaguely follow the original stories if at all. Part of the reasons Corman went on like this is that the stories are actually so short, or in some cases deal almost entirely with sensation, that it would be impossible to spin a coherent narrative out for 90 minutes. Partly it was budget constraints. Fewer characters meant fewer actors. For the most part, they pulled it off. This however, just might be the weakest of the Corman Poe Cycle. It’s okay though, chronologically they hit a low point in the middle and swept back up to great heights by the end. Usually a series dips and then just keeps going down hill, but Corman saved it and brought the whole thing to a triumphant conclusion.

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Creepshow (1982 Warner Bros. Dir. George A. Romero)

How does one begin to talk about Creepshow? I have to do an above the fold description, but it’s hard to know where to begin. This is a strange celebration of so many things that established wisdom says is bad for you. The horror comics of the E.C. era, anthology films, and of cheap and dirty storytelling. See, anthology movies never work. So says Hollywood. Argument not without some merit, as they rarely find an audience, thus they have poor box office and are difficult to manage artistically. The horror comic scare of demented perverts like Fredric Wertham* are the reason wanna be lawmakers even today try to demonize funny books. And even the short stories that these tales are based on are looked down on by snooty critics who can’t find any merit is works that people might actually enjoy reading. This is just a big bowl of everything that’s bad for you. I guess that’s why it’s so darn good. This is King and Romero doing their best scary-fun work.

*I’m just saying, no one ever though Batman and Robin were gay until this guy pointed it out. We also didn’t know Plastic Man was a phallic reference before him, or that Wonder Woman was a lesbian slut or that Superman was an un-American fascist. The guy was deranged, and a seriously shitty researcher to boot. I honestly can’t decry the fuckbag enough.

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