Remember when you were a child, settling into bed and all you wanted to send you off to sleep was a good story? Well, if you’re unlucky enough to have an uncaring uncle (Michael Mesmer) like Little Brian (Brian DePersia), you probably won’t get a sweet tale. You’ll be told one of the Deadtime Stories, a Troma-style retelling of beloved fairy tales.
To start, we get two witches and their assistant who is charged with finding them innocents to be killed and harvested to aid in spells, but the tables turn after he falls for one beautiful victim. Secondly is Red Riding Hood which casts Red as a young teen and the wolf as a leather-clad bad guy, and throws itself into a sexual awakening subtext. And lastly is Goldie Locks and the three bears, where two of the bears are fresh from the mental institution and Goldie is a serial killer with psychic powers and a strong libido.
Deadtime Stories wears its silliness with pride - it’s out to entertain, but it only just manages it. The two very 80s theme songs are the only lasting things you’ll really take from it, though it does have some solid practical effects, especially in the first story. It nips along at a fair pace, with a running time of only 83 minutes, but it never makes an impact.
It’s difficult to know who Deadtime Stories is for. It doesn’t have the cult credentials of others films of its time like The Toxic Avenger or its much better known compendium contemporaries like Creepshow, and it's difficult to imagine many people rooting around to find a copy. It doesn’t have the scuzzy nastiness to make it a morbid-must-see, and the self-consciously silly pun title will only attract so many. It’s not exactly a genre classic crying out for the special release treatment. Whoever it is for, though, are served well by this edition from 88 Films. The limited edition is packed with features starting with the high-def transfer from the original negative and reversible sleeve to audio commentary and interview with the co-writer, director, and comprehensive booklet notes.
Deadtime Stories is a slight if mildly entertaining entry in the horror compendium genre. The release has a good host of extras but it’s not a film that will stick in the memory.
DEADTIME STORIES / DIRECTOR: JEFFREY DELMAN / SCREENPLAY: JEFFREY DELMAN, J. EDWARD KIERNAN, CHARLES F. SHELTON / STARRING: SCOTT VALENTINE, NICOLE PICARD, MATT MITLER / CERT: 18 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW