The horror anthology movie has been a mainstay for several reasons. A major reason is that the three or four scary tales bundled together really can’t sustain the fear and pay off if any of the stories went feature length. Why let a film drag out the action and bore audiences? AIP did well with a few films set up this way during their Corman-Poe-Price era. Amicus made their anthology horror films since it allowed them to score major stars without making them commit to several months on the shoot. Quite a few horror anthologies are made by first time directors with limited budgets who can easily shoot a story whenever they raise enough cash. They can get more money by showing the first segment to potential investors. Deadtime Stories follows many of these rules. The anthology film has future stars split between a trio of fractured fairytales.
Brian (Brian DePersia) refuses to go to sleep. His babysitting uncle (Michael Mesmer) has to interrupt his evening entertainment to climb up to the second floor and chill out Brian. This means telling a fairytale. Except the uncle isn’t ready to give the Disney version of beloved bedtime classics. Instead he takes the simple tales and turns them into grindhouse fantasies. The first tale is about what it takes for a family reunion. In this case it’s two witch sisters (Anne Redfern and Phyllis Craig) bring back their executed third sister. In order to fulfill the spell, they send out their faithful servant (Scott Valentine, best known as Nick on Family Ties). He’s got to round up a lot of odd elements including a minister and a virgin. But can he really follow the orders of the witching sisters? This tale even with stomach churning visuals of the third sister’s return to flesh isn’t enough for Brian to settle down. The Uncle tells a tale of Little Red Riding Hood, the big bad wolf and why you should always double check your pharmaceutical pick ups. In this case Red Riding Hood (Revenge of the Nerds II‘s Nicole Picard) drops by the drugstore to get Granny’s pills. However her bag and another customer’s bag gets mixed up. The other customer (The Mutilator‘s Matt Mitler) really needs his pills. He’s a werewolf and uses large amounts of sleeping pills to avoid terrorizing the neighborhood. Trouble is that it’s the full moon so he runs down to grandma house hoping to swap medicines. Except Red has wandered off her trip to grandma’s house to have a little fun in a storage shed. This could lead to a horror worse than a deductible payment. The uncle’s last tale is Goldilocks in the Three Bears with serious twists. The Three Bears are bank robbers and Goldi (Five Corners‘ Cathryn de Prume) is telekinetic and takes out her rage on men who want to see if she’s just right. Mama Bear (The Fighter‘s Melissa Leo) busts out Papa and Baby from an insane asylum. Things don’t go according to the book when these bears come face to face with Goldi. Even this tale isn’t good enough for Brian. Luckily their an ending to the frame that will keep him silent and scared in bed.
Deadtime Stories was one of those films that flourished in the ’80s when a creepy title, tantalizing VHS box cover art and an R rating made them repeat rentals at mom and pop videostores. The film does an amazingly fine job of twisting fairy tales and special effects with a shoestring budget. The reanimation of a corpse is there with the work found in Evil Dead 2. The cast is a big help with Melissa Leo and Scott Valentine giving a hint of what they’d be accomplishing in their long careers. The three stories are properly sequence since the Three Bears tale is the best of the bunch. Deadtime Stories provides more fun than fear.
The videos is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfers looks much better than your old VHS cassette. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 that features the mono soundtrack. The levels are fine for a low budget production. The movie has subtitles in case you want to watch while others are sleeping.
Audio Commentary by co-writer/director Jeffrey Delman goes into detail about constructing the anthology. They went back to reshoot years after the original production. He also goes into the multiple titles used by various distributors.
I Like the Grotesque (15:41) is a conversation with co-writer/director Jeff Delman brings together the best stories from his commentary track. He talks about how Melissa Leo played her part with a broken arm. Scott Valentine’s limp in the film is not theatrical. He had been seriously hurt before being cast.
A Band of Gypsies: The Making of Deadtime Stories (15:34) allows Leo, Valentine, and DePrume to recount their time in the film. Leo admits she and Valentine were pals at SUNY Purchase student. He hooked her up with the film. Valentine talks about how it took him months to recover after being run over by a truck. All three remain friends with Delman.
The Black Forest (29:48) is the original cut before it was reshot. The second version is a lot smoother in acting and editing. There was a learning curve.
Deleted scenes (2:31) is more of Red Riding Hood getting ready to go jogging and security cam angles of the Bears robbing a bank.
Theatrical trailers (3:12) highlight the stories.
Photo Gallery (4:14) contains dozens of publicity pics.
DVD with all bonus features found on Blu-ray.
Scream Factory presents Deadtime Stories. Directed by: Jeffrey Delman. Screenplay by: J. Edward Kiernan,
Charles F. Shelton & Jeffrey Delman. Starring: Scott Valentine, Nicole Picard, Matt Mitler, Cathryn de Prume Cathryn de Prume and Melissa Leo. Running Time: 82 minutes. Rated: R. Released: February 28, 2016.
Tags: Deadtime Stories, Scream Factory