Tales from the Darkside: Sn 3

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:40

Tales from the Darkside - Season 3 on DVDGeorge A Romero’s Tales from the Darkside returns to DVD for a third, 22-episode season. The four-disc set is packed with cautionary tales of avarice, cold-blooded murder and horrifying creatures waiting in the shadows to prey on the vulnerable and the foolhardy. Guest stars this time around include Babylon 5 actors Michael O’Hare and Jeff Conaway, Roy Dotrice from Beauty and the Beast, and William Hickey, master of creepy characters as seen in “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Prizzi’s Honor”.

As well as producing the anthology show, Romero wrote two of this season’s best episodes. ‘The Circus’ features a skeptical journalist who visits one of the last travelling sideshow theatres. Determined to expose the freakish acts as a sham, he forces the MC’s hand with chilling consequences.

The horror master’s second yarn is “Baker’s Dozen”, featuring a bakery that crafts cookies with special powers both recuperative and destructive. A marketing consultant smells an opportunity and helps to promote the shop in return for a contract and some freebies, but ends up trying to bite the hand that feeds him.

As in previous seasons, Darkside tends to favour American kookiness over out-and-out, hard-edged terror. There are a handful of episodes that have a more mature tone or a more unpredictable, thoughtful plot but they are the exception. Generally speaking, the acting is either slightly or very hammy, the scripts are cheesy, the production values are cheap and the scarce special effects are ropey by today’s lofty standards.

Having said that, the series still retains a certain charm and charisma, and the majority of the episodes are fun, providing you do not set your level of expectation too high!

Aside from Romero’s pair, other stand-out tales include “Deliver Us from Goodness”, where a mother blessed with saintly powers gets fed up with her every wish coming true, so she forces herself to sin her way through the Ten Commandments in a desperate bid to lose her gift. “Miss May Dusa” is quite a sophisticated story of a woman cursed with a medusa-like stare who finally finds someone she can live with – a blind busker.

“The Milkman Cometh” plays to the series’ strengths by using good acting, spooky atmosphere and the unnerving silhouette of a mysterious, unseen milkman who can deliver on any wish, but at what cost? Robert Forster of “Jackie Brown” and more recently Alcatraz fame does a typically sterling job here as a father struggling to make ends meet.

In conclusion, what you get here is primarily quantity over quality; most of the episodes are pretty run-of-the-mill with a spattering of superior ones mixed in with a few rotten eggs. If you are a fan of the previous seasons, you will definitely want to get this box set as well. Ultimately there is no denying the value of the set based on the amount of content you get (in spite of the complete lack of bonus content), especially when the already fair RRP is likely to be knocked down quite substantially.

Tales from the Darkside - Season 3 (1986) is out now, courtesy of Revelation Films. The 4-disc box set has a running time of 484 mins approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 10:41

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