It all started with Creepshow. Yes there were the television shows before the notorious horror-comic, like Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt – but it was George Romero and Stephen King who poured gasoline on the short compilation fire, spawning a variety of such films that hit the theaters and airwaves like mad, post 1982. To understand where Deadtime Stories fits into it all, here’s a little timeline:
Twilight Zone – The Movie (1983)
Tales From the Darkside TV series – began (1984)
Deadtime Stories – (1986)
Creepshow 2 (1986)
Tales From the Crypt (1989) etc….
Deadtime Stories is a film consisting of three bedtime stories converted at the whim of a father or babysitting relative – about a witch that returns from the dead, a werewolf and little red riding hood, and a wacked out, drugged tale of Goldilocks and the three bears. As it opens, a young boy is awake and can’t fall asleep. Mommy sometimes tells him bedtime stories. “Make one up,” the kid says. The annoyed babysitter makes up an original tale of witches and an apprentice, who is called upon to assist in gathering victims for witchy sacrifices. It stars Scott Valentine, who may be recognizable to older viewers as Mallory’s boyfriend from the Family Ties TV series back in the 80’s.
The kid still cant sleep, and the man returns, frustrated, and spins a tangent on Little Red Riding Hood, throwing a werewolf into the mix. The ending is a little too soft for the child, so he amends it by slaughtering everyone in the end with some stupid chokeholds, which is worth a chuckle at best. It is by far the worst of the three stories, which are already hurting by Hollywood standards.
The last tale is a spin off of Goldilocks and the three bears. Goldilocks is a serial killer chick with psychic powers, and she gets so offended by guys hitting on her hot ass that she ends up murdering them, one after the other. Cross this with a band of “bears”, which is actually a couple of demented and mentally handicapped thieves, and you blend them together for the oddest of the three stories, which seems like someone took an Ad-Lib and threw in childrens’ literary characters and crossed them with The Devils Rejects. Not quite, but that’s the best I can describe it. Do not take acid and watch this segment, as your brain will likely lock-up and crash, leaving you a fairy-tale hallucinating vegetable. Its weird.
Final Analysis: It’s a bad attempt to find a niche in the short film compilation genre, chock full of weak acting and stories – too violent for children, and too weak for horror fans. Its not the worst thing you’ve watched, but its hardly interesting. There was one sequence in the first chapter that had my eyes glued, as a witch comes back from the dead, materializing from a dead skeleton and into a murderous, vengeful sister witch. Its one of the coolest, low budget, transformation sequences Ive seen in a long time, is worth a look, and it is drawn out and juicy. The witches were cast well. Only back in the 80’s would two real hags be casted as such. Nowadays, it seems like nobody will cast anyone who is not a model, and this would have been wrong for the story. The shortcomings and lameness of Deadtime Stories somewhat outweigh the macabre value a horror fan might get out of this. Its not the bottom of the barrel, however its likely that this, along with the disappointing release of Creepshow 2, together contributed to the demise and lack of popularity these short sagas eventually underwent. Weak and weird, but you really could do worse.