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Deadtime Stories
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by Jack Sommersby

2 stars

Released a few months after the disappointing "Creepshow 2," it has its moments but could've used more time in the development phase. It comes off as rushed and shot on the fly.

The horror anthology Deadtime Stories is an amateurish but occasionally diverting entertainment that doesn't quite warrant a recommendation. While certainly preferable to the abysmal 1983 Nightmares, it pales in comparison to George A. Romero's brilliant Creepshow and Lewis Teague's fine Cat's Eye, both of which benefited from imaginative Stephen King-scripted stories. Yet it's not entirely negligible. The first and by far the least is Peter and the Witches, a lackluster affair that has the mediocre TV actor Scott Valentine (he was the Neanderthal-sounding Nick on Family Ties) in period costume combating the inimical powers of two witches intent on resurrecting a warlock by sacrificing a holy man's heart that's been gruesomely plucked from his chest. Murky lighting and clunky execution can't elevate the flat writing to even the level of a nice-try, with Valentine possessing all the screen presence and charisma of week-old tuna casserole. Luckily, the stories get better. The AIDS parable Little Red Runninghood has its red-Spandex-attired heroine Rachel intent on losing her virginity to her horny suitor the same day a real weirdo named Lenny's prescription medicine is accidentally switched with Rachel's grandmother's at the pharmacy. Why Lenny's urgency to get his sleeping pills before the full moon rises? You don't have to be a genius to figure that one out. Decent make-up effects and a fetching Nicole Picard are pluses, though the sex scene is too tame and we want more of Lenny's bestial antics. The cherry on top is Goldi Lox and the Three Baers, with the luscious Cathryn de Prume as ready-for-action beauty Goldi with psychic powers who can't help slaughtering the men she beds; she's taken refuge in a dwelling belonging to the older lady Mama Baer, who's just broken husband Papa and son Baby from the Home for the Hopelessly Insane institution. After Goldi is discovered while taking a shower ("You were perhaps expecting Janet Leigh?"), she and the Baers become criminal comrades, and it all culminates in an amusingly macabre finale at a diner. The obvious flaw to Deadtime Stories is we want nothing of the first segment and twice as much of the second and third, so we have to make due with only a half-fulfilled appetite. Jeffrey Delman, who co-wrote and makes his directorial debut, hasn't learned to coalesce all of his ideas, but his execution gets better as the movie goes along. An additional fourth story might've really been a corker.

Stick with Romero and King.

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originally posted: 02/22/14 09:13:13
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  28-Nov-1986 (R)



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