Deadtime Stories: Tales of Death
In the 'something's rotten' file we can throw the aforementioned movie. It's a disconcerting brand of rotten, too. Not even new crap pedaled by Lionsgate, for instance, Deadtime Stories is old crap repackaged for the unsuspecting public. Luckily this one is easy to sniff out, from the overly grim addendum to the title to the shakily generic jacket art, it's easy to catch a whiff and walk away.
Any movie that mentions death in its title twice had better deliver the goods, and of course Deadtime not only fails to deliver, its package of terror sits figuratively on your Aunt's shelf, minus postage.
Headliner Scott Valentine ('80s junkies will know him from Family Ties) stars in one of three stories contained within a wraparound involving an Uncle trying to get his Nephew to go to sleep so he can just watch some T & A on 'cablevision.' The first story is a quick 'n' ramble-y tale of some witches or something trying to resurrect a warlock. Tale two puts a spandex spin on Little Red Riding Hood, while yarn three essays the kooky goings-on surrounding three escaped mental patients.
None of the proceedings rise above the level of after-school-special, despite the presence of a few cheapo gore/ special effects, (and the appearance of Valentine's naked butt) so leave your expectations of exploitation fun behind. In fact leave everything behind, the bad acting, cursory plot machinations and total lack of tension, and just spend a few minutes pondering why and for what audience this was made.
It has all the earmarks of something crafted at the dawn of cable TV, made by people who couldn't get jobs on network TV, and fits neatly into my (least) favorite category of DVDs, the 'thorough-going avoider.' Please don't support this brand of revenue generation.
The video presentation is about as bad as it gets, from the native 1.33:1 fullscreen formatting, (there's that TV pedigree again) to the incipient film-grain, washed out colors and wavering, horrible digital mastering. Most of the time all of the background elements seem to swim around trying to catch up to the action.
Sound: Rad Dolby Digital mono audio is fine and audible, but that's about it, you'll get the same class of sound watching late-night reruns of M.A.S.H. on your grandma's console TV (but far more entertainment).
Extras: The most notable thing about the extras, besides the fact that there are none (OK, there are 12 chapter stops, with a great song composed by Taj where he sings about leaning up against an oak tree looking cool) is the fact that the navigation screen features a fairly prominent graphic of a publicity shot from An American Werewolf In London.
The semi-literate DVD box copy should be another easy tip-off that Deadtime Stories: Tales of Death, will induce death (at best a deep sleep) in those who dare watch. This movie is not even for '80s completists or Scott Valentine stalkers, so just skip it. The subject at hand was stupid when it first came out, but giving it a cruddy whitewash and shilling it again is just shameful. I'm making the tsk-tsk motion your way, Cinevision International!
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com