Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is one of those films that I always forget about, and then when I watch it again I’m like, “Oh, hey, this is great! Why don’t I own it?” I can only chalk it up to seeing it on TV over and over and over again in the 90s, which apparently created some kind of near-blackout in my brain when I try to think of horror movies that are wildly entertaining.
Anyway. This 1990 horror anthology features 4 stories (one of which is an amazing wrap-around story starring Deborah Harry and Matthew Lawrence), and the middle story is based on Stephen King’s “The Cat from Hell.” George A. Romero (yes, THAT George A. Romero) adapted the screenplay from King’s short story, and the entire movie is directed by John Harrison, who also directed a bunch of episodes of the Darkside TV show.
Yes, that’s a cat emerging from a (dead) human’s mouth.
Cat from Hell is a noir-ish story about a filthy rich, wheelchair-bound old man (William Hickey) who hires a hitman (Hi there Buster Poindexter! I mean, uh, David Johansen!) to kill … a cat. A cat which he believes has killed all of his other family members/housemates. A cat which he believes is evil. And surprise! It totally is. What follows is fun game in a giant mansion where you get to see the cat stalk the assassin and outsmart him at every turn — complete with some scenes from the cat’s POV. I’m not sure I ever read the short story this is based on because I only seem to remember the details in this film, so I can’t speak about how close it is to the story, but I can say this is pretty boss. Atmosphere, suspense, comedy, and most importantly: a really good amount of splatter.
Final recommendation: Absolutely give the whole movie a watch. The first segment is the strongest (plus it stars Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, and Christian Slater), and I love, love, love, the wrap-around with Blondie, but this one is pretty great too.