Starring: Scott Valentine, Nicole Picard, Cathryn DePrume, Matt Mitler, Kathy Fleig, and Mike Mesmer
Director: Jeffrey S. Delman
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
A babysitting uncle (Mesmer) who wants nothing more than to watch porn on cable in peace, tells three twisted fairy tales to his young charge in hopes of getting him to shut up and go to sleep.
Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with an anthology film, if you like the horror genre. Anyone tale may not be to your liking, but they're all usually short enough that they don't ruin the whole movie for you. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the anthology film, and I seek out as many of them as I can.
In the case of "Deadtime Stories", we have three bizarre spins on traditional fairy tales that are placed within a framing sequence featuring an less than enthusiastic babysitter and his demanding charge. The camera-work, lighting, and soundtrack are all pretty decent, as is the acting, but the script is severely wanting throughout the film, with both the jokes and scares being far inferior to what I suspect the writers thought them to be.
The film leads off with a straight forward fairytale yarn, featuring two hideous witches who have purchased a slave boy (Valentine) to help them bring the third member of their coven back to life. Unfortunately for them, he falls in love with the beautiful maiden (Fleig) they had intended to be their prime sacrifce. The most straight-forward tale within a "fantasy" setting, it is also the funniest at time, probably because it's not trying so hard to be funny.
The second tale, a modern-day spin on "Little Red Riding Hood" sees Rachel (Picard), an oversexed teenaged girl, and her grandmother get stalked by a very upset "wolf" (Mitler) after a mix-up at the neighborhood pharmacy. While this story is funny early on--Uncle Mike's frustration at missing the bikini special on TV is shining through--the humor quickly fades. While this is also three of the stories that attempts to present the most straightforward horror aspects, it never quite manages to ratchet up the tension or the fear... mostly because of all the time spent with Rachel and her boyfriend having a rendezvous in a maintainance shack by the public tennis courts. "Uncle Mike" was just a tad too obsessed with horny teenagers, and thus, as the kid he's telling the story rightfully said, it became boring.
The third tale, a modern-day and quite bizarre spin on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" has Goldie Lox (DePrume), a teenaged sexual psychopath with amazing telekinetic powers team up with the Bear Family, a clan of homicidal criminals. The neverending stream of puns and sideways fairytale allusions, plus the slapstick nature of the action,clearly demonstrates that this was supposed to be an allout comedic romp with horror overtones. However, just like the second story fell short of its mark, so does this one. There are some chuckles in the piece, and the Goldie Lox character and her house full of boyfriends presents the film's most chilling moments, but overall the tale feels like it has "first draft" written all over it.
I think that if the script for "Deadtimes Stories" had been taken through a draft or two more, we might have had a film to rival great anthology films like "The House That Dripped Blood" (click here for review), but as it is, we've got a halfbaked piece of work that barely rises to acceptable levels of filmmaking. It's a shame, because this one had real potential.