I recently received a blu-ray copy of the 1986 horror-comedy Deadtime Stories having never seen the movie before. I was not exactly sure what to expect but actually had a pretty fun time watching the movie.
As was popular in the 80’s, this movie is a horror anthology all tied together by Brian, a child that can’t fall asleep. He’s too afraid to go to bed because of monsters hiding in his room so his babysitter, Uncle Mike, does the only reasonable thing and tells him a few fairytales but Uncle Mike’s versions of the tales twist the classic stories into something that probably won’t help Brian sleep all that well.
The first story of the anthology doesn’t really relate to any specific story in fairytale lore. It’s more of a generic story of witches needing to sacrifice a virgin during a full moon. It is a segment that is absolutely not meant to be scary or even serious from what I can tell. It has a lot of jokes that land pretty well. On the other hand, the special effects are really great. Seriously, whenever a witch gets brought back to life it looks really amazing. This story sets the tone for the film in that the stories are really never too scary at all but an interesting balance of humor with macabre situations and very well done special effects that really get your attention.
The second story is that of Red Riding Hood, which attempts to bring the story into “modern” times (though looking at the 80’s clothing you might not think so). Red is an attractive young woman in a red track suit and the wolf in this version is a werewolf. The special effects for this story are really great and they were able to achieve a lot with the budget constraints. It looks as good as anything I’ve seen from this era. This story also ends with a nice comical twist that will make you laugh.
The third story is the tale of Goldi Lox. Instead of three literal bears she comes across the Baer family, a family of lunatics that recently escaped from the asylum only to find Goldi Lox has been staying their home. Unlike in the classic tale they soon realize that Goldi Lox is a serial killer herself with some strange powers and in the ultimate flip the script moment they decide that maybe by joining forces they can cause more havoc than ever before. It’s kind of a weird concept to get your mind around and, honestly, it works well because your brain tells you what should happen according to horror movie tropes and totally turns it on its head.
Overall, the movie is fun. It is by no means scary though it does have a LOT of graphic and gory special effects that might make the squeamish want to look away. At times the balance is not right and it tries too hard to be funny or insert jokes that ultimately undermine the stories but it’s easy to forgive with how much fun they provide to those watching. You might not scream in fright but you will laugh and smile a lot.
The 1080p blu-ray transfer of Deadtime Stories brings a very clean and better picture than would be expected considering the film was made in bit sand pieces as money became available over a couple of years. It maintains much of that “grainy” feel that, honestly, is to be expected from a movie made in the 80’s. Sometimes uneven, some segments do have a little too much red while others not enough but if you have been watching the 80’s video cassette up until this point you will appreciate the improvement. It’s in 1080p High-Definition with a aspect at 1.78:1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 that does an admirable job. The dialog is very clean, there is virtually no hissing or pops, and music is balanced well so nothing overpowers the movie.
Deadtime Stories is another release from Scream Factory that the die-hard fans are just going to love. They will see everything differently and details they probably never noticed before. For those like myself that have never seen it but love 80’s horror you will probably like it for what it is. There are no real scary moments to speak of but the movie is entertaining and intentionally comical at many points.
- NEW Hi-Def Transfer From The Original Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary With Co-writer/Director Jeffrey Delman
- NEW I Like The Grotesque – An Interview With Co-writer/Director Jeffrey Delman
- NEW Interviews With 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 is available from Scream Factory on February 28th.
Fun Fact: Deadtime Stories was the third movie ever for Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) who plays Mama Baer in the film.