Deadtime Storiesrecommended viewing

The fairy tales' symbolic drama
★★★★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1986
Director: 
Jeffery Delman
Starring: 
Scott Valentine, Michael Mesmer, Brian DePersia, Melissa Leo, Nicole Picard
The Setup: 
Anthology of three twisted and very bizarre horror fairy tales.
Discussion: 

There I am, with Single Black Female in the mail on the way back and Single White Female 2: The Psycho on its way, and not a thing from Netflix to watch. So once more I turn to the best entertainment value in the universe and essential set for the bad movie enthusiast, 50 Chilling Classics. And it comes through for the UMPTEENTH TIME! I seriously want to meet the person who curated this set and give him or her a big hug and, who knows, maybe a blow job too.

Anyway, this movie is a collection of three horror fairy tales that is funny, very 80s, a little dirty, a little scary, and lot funny, and has several elements straight from outer space. I’m telling you all this up front because, if it sounds interesting, I believe that you should stop reading right now and just experience it all as it comes flying at you from the screen. It is a strange and glorious trip marked by several surprises, and you should really experience them all first-hand. Okay, you were warned.

We open with a man ominously stalking through a house, up to a room, opening the door to reveal… a kid bouncing on a bed! The man is Uncle Mike, who is babysitting little Brian. The kid can’t sleep, and begs Mike to make up a story to tell him. We then go into the credits, which feature a big storybook, with pages [featuring the credits] being slowly turned by a hand. As they go on, the hand is replaced several times, going from human gradually to monstrous. While this happens, we are hearing a 80s-style power rock ballad apparently called “Bedtime Stories,” which features the lyrics “The three little pigs were blown out of their digs, and their houses and huts were despoiled.” The song is about how many kids grew up watching horror films—these took the place of their fairy tales—and thus it’s “no wonder why we turned out like we did.” Music for this movie is handled by TAJ, and I am led to believe from the IMDb that writer/director Jeffery Delman was involved in writing some of these lyrics. He also manages to include a lyric of the lugubrious phrase “George Romero, Hitchcock and De Palma,” and rhymes it to “The fairy tales’ symbolic drama.” During this time we see that this movie stars Scott Valentine, best known for a stint on Family Ties, and Melissa Leo, who was just nominated for best actress for her work in Frozen River! This shit has a pedigree of quality!

SPOILERS > > >
Okay, so the first story is about this kid, Peter, sold into slavery to these two witches. These witches are not the Wizard of Oz kind, but scary, ugly crones in the Pumpkinhead vein. The whole thing is apparently happening in Medieval times, too, which can lead to some amusement in terms of low-budget sets and anachronisms. The witches tell Peter to get some guy they know of and lead him back there, telling him there are two hot babes waiting for him. Peter brings the guy back, and when he gets there the place is a nice room with veils hung everywhere, and the witches are these young a beautiful maidens. The witches caress the guy and finally reach down into his crotch, quickly slipping a shackle on his wrist. “Ahh… a bit of bondage, eh?” asks the man—and you at home ask yourself, for the first time of many; “Wait a minute… this guy is telling this story to a KID?!” The boy, Peter, sees the witches and room as they really are. The witches rub some intense Tiger Balm on the wrist of the guy… so intense, it eats through his wrist and lights afire, and then his severed hand, aflame, crawls away with its still-animated fingers. This was the first big WTF??? Of the movie. And then it turns out to be among the film’s tamer moments…

So the fickle disembodied finger points in some direction, which the witches use to find this enormous cavern [even their bizarre walk through the woods is precious], where they dig up the bones of their sister, Magoga, and take them back. The conditions for reanimating Magoga are right that night, and won’t be good again for another 37 years! So they’d better get it right. When they get back Peter takes a bath, and one of the witches eyes his nakedness invasively. He tells the witches that he doesn’t like them killing people, and receives “Well that’s too bad!” and suchlike in response. They then tell him to go out and provide a diversion so the witches can snatch this fair maiden. The girl in question is SO 80s from her hair to her speech, it’s kind of funny seeing her surrounded by all this Medieval stuff [Peter is very 80s, too], and Peter starts to like her. But it’s curtains for her, and the witches humorously argue over who’s going to get her eyes and teeth. Then they take some of her blood, and combine it with a few of the freshest garden herbs and spices—plus a hint of Mrs. Dash—and soon the blood is thickening, globs appear, harden, and before you know it, the globs have turned into a heart. But wait! They take the heart and place it inside the rib cage of the skeleton. Soon tendrils start coming out of it, then more, until you have this whole nasty person-thing made with shiny tendrils and slime, and it is JAW-DROPPINGLY, UNBELIEVEABLY GORY. I say “Jaw-Dropping” in truth because my mouth was open in shock and horror for this entire, lengthy sequence! But Peter stabs the witches [he’s got some aim with that knife], and escapes with his new lady love. They’re all ready to live happily ever after when—well, let’s just say they should have checked the location of their resurrected supreme witch before putting down their guard. Peter punches into the witches’ chest and rips out her heart—simple enough!—then the heart grows tendrils and sucks onto his face like the spider-thing from Alien! It actually appears to be sucking out his eyeball. This was so shocking and out-of-the-blue I think this is when I really started to love this movie. They get rid of the heart, emerge into the sunlight and kiss, ready to live happily ever after!

Now we’re back with Uncle Mike and Brian, now asleep. Uncle Mike sneaks downstairs to watch the Miss Nude Universe contest, but Brian wakes up and wants another story. It’s quite possible the reason he can’t sleep is that it’s obviously the middle of the afternoon, evidenced by the bright sunlight outside the window. But who knows—maybe they’re within the arctic circle. Anyway, Mike tells a story of Little Red Riding Hood, only this time she’s named Rachel and is a hot high school cheerleader! She stands caressing herself in front of the mirror as we hear this insane 70s/80s softcore music. In the mirror, she sees herself in the arms of this fellow we will soon realize is her boyfriend. Her mom calls, and the spell is broken, and the movie includes a quick filthy joke in here that implies the reason she was having such an erotic fantasy was because… the dog was licking her! By now the horny Uncle Mike telling all this to his young nephew is no longer shocking, just hilarious. Also around is Willie, this drug addict who wears black leather pants and boots. He crosses paths with Rachel at the pharmacy, where a mix-up sends her to grandma with some high-grade medical tranquilizers and him home with a big bottle of Midol or something.

Turns out the reason Willie needs the tranqs is because he’s a werewolf. And guess when it’s going to be a full moon? Meanwhile, Rachel’s boyfriend has been good and she agrees to go with him to screw. He leads her to… one of those pressed-wood tool/storage sheds people keep in their backyards! She’s remarking sarcastically on what a romantic environment when he pulls out some candles and an air mattress! She then inquires as to whether he’s brought an air pump… and next thing we see is him slowly inflating the thing while she just sits there and watches. Then, when he’s finally done, and ready to go, she announces that she has to pee, and runs out. This shit is comedy gold! THEN—hold on to your hats, bitches—we start alternating between this slow music for the love scene, and this ominous music for the scenes in which Willie is turning into a werewolf, which is kind of a variation on the slow music [although at times the edits between the two music don’t flow as seamlessly as one would like]. Then, at a certain point, the two musical styles CONVERGE into one number! Ladies and gentlemen, the sounds of TAJ. And I think there’s reason to believe that writer/director/producer/actor/musician Jeffery Delman is directly responsible for this!

So Willie turns full on into the werewolf, and we must note that Rachel doesn’t look entirely thrilled with the lovin’ she’s receiving from her boyfriend. Afterward she looks in the mirror and says “I don’t look any different.” Awww, she lost her virginity in a pressed-board wood shed! Well, at least there were candles. Anyway, Willie goes and attacks grandma, and Rachel finds her when she comes by. The wolf kills her boyfriend [no more bad sex! …with HIM, anyway] and comes after Rachel, but she coolly applies a cactus to his face, then stabs him in the neck. They all go to the hospital [Grandma’s alive], where grandma abruptly starts to moan as her face swells and begins to crack apart [i.e. she’s a werewolf now]. Rachel asks my favorite question in situations like this—you know, like when your grandmother’s face is tearing open from the inside—“Grandma? Are you all right?”

The third story is a version of Goldilocks and the three bears. Papa and Baby Bear want to go for a walk from the mental institution where they’re cooped up, but the guard won’t let them leave the premises. Then a car comes driving recklessly up, hitting the guard. This is Mama Bear, and she breaks the two other out—then backs up to run over the guard more fully, remarking “I only grazed him the first time.” We then meet Goldilocks. We see her out in a field talking to a boyfriend she is trying to let down easy. Upon closer inspection, we see that she has this guy impaled on a sword, and what’s more, she can grind it in further with her mind! This is a little bit like the moment in Tourist Trap when you realize that not only is there a homicidal maniac, but he’s telekinetic, too. She takes her new boyfriend to her house, where she has a number of male corpses, all in varying states of decay. She talks to them affectionately and lays watching TV with her head in one’s lap. She’s thrilled with her fame when the newscast comes on to talk about the infamous Bear Family escaping from the asylum, and the notorious killer Goldilocks being on the loose, but gets annoyed when the newscaster dismisses her psychic ability as hogwash. So she sends a little psychic shock wave his way. Well, who comes home, but the three bears, to find Goldilocks in their shower and her corpses arranged all over their house. After finding her, they decide that she can stay, and “She’ll be like the daughter we never had,” to which Goldilocks replies “And you’ll be like the parents I brutally slaughtered.”

Okay, now something that had me laughing my ass off: Goldilocks is out in a peaceful sun-dappled field surrounded by wildflowers… and sawing limbs off a corpse. Baby bear comes out to talk to her, casually sitting down right on the corpse. They have flirty talk, making Baby Bear excited to the point where he is panting/barking, and they have sex to the sound of surfer music. Goldilocks’ orgasm causes a small earthquake. On the way home, Baby snaps fingers off the severed arm he’s carrying while saying “She loves me… she loves me not.” It wraps itself up satisfactorily a little bit after this. The movie ends with a short coda featuring Uncle Mike too fed up to go tell Brian anther story.
< < < SPOILERS END

I found it to be entirely delightful. I really appreciated that I had NO idea what I was going to see next, and where this would go. First there are all the gory surprises of the first section and the way it manages to remain fairly genuinely creepy and kind of scary, and then, as you continue to watch, the dawning sense that some of this is supposed to be funny…. By the second segment and on, I was really into the sense of humor, both for all the jokes in the movie, but mostly the movie’s overall gusto for the pervy and gruesome. It is just relentlessly macabre at every turn, and after awhile it can be quite hilarious… especially when you stop and reflect on how this responsible adult is telling this awful, inappropriate story to a young kid. The list of horror comedies that work is lamentably short, but I think this one could safely make it into any top ten. A fun, totally delightful, good-spirited surprise.

Should you watch it: 

Yes! It’s got creepy parts, is totally hilarious, and is just so good-spirited it’ll show you a good time.