Tales from the Darkside: The Movie – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jan 08, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)


John Harrison

Release Date(s)

1990 (November 28, 2023)


Laurel Productions/Paramount Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: A

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (4K UHD)



Tales from the Darkside ran for four seasons in syndication during the 1980s. After it ended, its creators wanted to do more with it, specifically on the big screen. So George Romero, Stephen King, Michael McDowell, Richard Rubinstein, and John Harrison collaborated to create Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. A modest success upon release, the film went on to be a favorite for horror fans, whom not only appreciated it for its genre trappings, but also its cast, its attention to detail, and its style.

A young housewife (Deborah Harry) has kidnapped the young Timmy (Matthew Lawrence) and plans to cook him for dinner. To stall her, he reads from a book of stories. The first, Lot 249, concerns three college students (Christian Slater, Robert Sedgwick, and Julianne Moore) who have framed another student (Steve Buscemi) for stealing an ancient mummy. For revenge, he brings the mummy back to life to kill them all. In Cat from Hell, the old and wealthy Dogan (William Hickey) hires a hitman (David Johansen) to kill a cat that has haunted his family for years, but it won’t be easy. In Lover’s Vow, starving artist Preston (James Remar) comes face to face with a murderous gargoyle that makes him promise to keep its presence a secret. Afterwards, he develops a relationship with the beautiful Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) and his luck begins to change, but keeping his secret proves to be a daunting and ultimately tragic task.

As can plainly be seen, one of the most remarkable aspects of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is its cast. Mixing seasoned veterans and fresh faces who turned out to be successful later, every story offers plenty of on-screen talent. What can also not be overlooked is what’s going on behind the camera. Each segment features its own distinctive visual flair, which was fully intended by director John Harrison and cinematographer Robert Draper, who saw fit to give each story its own visual personality. Also worth appreciating are the special make-up and creature effects created by the fledgling K.N.B. EFX Group, consisting of Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger. Whether it’s an ancient mummy, a towering gargoyle, or a cat burrowing into the mouth of a human, all of the effects are impressive and mostly hold up to modern scrutiny.

Many horror anthologies often have at least one or two segments that don’t work as well as the others, but in the case of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, all of the stories are top of the line, and offer different things for audiences. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to warrant producing the planned sequel, but as is, it’s still an effective horror film with many fine qualities.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie was shot by cinematographer Robert Draper on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Scream Factory debuts the film in a 2-Disc Ultra HD Collector’s Edition package with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included), and presented on a BD-100 disc. It offers an excellent yield of grain that’s handled well and appears organic, with high bit rates that soar well above 80Mbps and beyond. Both the palette and contrast and improved, thanks to the new HDR grades, with beautifully-detailed layers of color and shadow, offering a wide range of hues and deep, inky blacks. Aside from the opening titles fitted with opticals and less detail-oriented frames, this a knockout presentation that’s clean and stable throughout, and a major improvement over the previous Blu-ray.

Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (the same as the Blu-ray predecessor) with optional subtitles in English SDH. The film was released in Dolby Stereo, so one has to assume that these tracks are sourced from it. The 5.1 mix offers a decent surround experience, though it doesn’t go for the throat as much as one might expect. What it handles well are atmospherics, particularly in large spaces. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise while the scores for each segment are given a considerable boost. The 2.0 track is of a similar nature, but with less room to move around in.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie on 4K UHD sits in a black amaray case alongside a 1080p Blu-ray (containing the same transfer) with an insert and slipcover that features the original theatrical artwork. The following extras are included on each disc:


  • Audio Commentary with John Harrison and George Romero
  • Audio Commentary with David R. Kappes and Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Emily Higgins and Billy Dunham


  • Audio Commentary with John Harrison and George Romero
  • Audio Commentary with David R. Kappes and Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Emily Higgins and Billy Dunham
  • Tales Behind the Darkside: The Making of Four Ghoulish Fables:
  • Chapter One: From Small Screens to Big Screams (HD – 16:20)
  • Chapter Two: Rising Stars and the Walking Dead (HD – 17:41)
  • Chapter Three: That Damn Cat! (HD – 16:51)
  • Chapter Four: A Vow to Keep (HD – 25:42)
  • Chapter Five: The Order of Things (HD – 14:02)
  • Chapter Six: The Test of Time (HD – 13:11)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation (SD – 11:05)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:57)
  • TV Spots (SD – 2 in all – 1:06)
  • Radio Spots (3 in all – 1:35)
  • Still Gallery (HD – 46 in all – 4:02)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Gallery (HD – 48 in all – 4:11)

The vintage DVD audio commentary with John Harrison and George A. Romero is a delight as the two mostly discuss filmmaking while watching the film, occasionally commenting on certain moments. The commentary with co-producer David R. Kappes and Michael Felsher is an interesting listen as Felsher asks questions about Kappes’ entry into show business and the various facets of the production as they watch the film together. New to this release is an audio commentary with film critics Emily Higgins and Billy Dunham, both of the We Watched a Thing podcast. It’s basically a fan commentary, but a decent one as they bring a lot of energy and love to the track without overdoing it. Tales Behind the Darkside: The Making of Four Ghoulish Fables is a feature-length retrospective making-of by Red Shirt Pictures presented in six chapters (now with a Play All option). It’s an excellent piece, speaking to a variety of people who worked on the film, including director John Harrison, producer Mitchell Galin, director of photography Robert Draper, production designer Ruth Ammon, special make-up and creature effects artists Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, creature performer Michael Deak, actors James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong, and editor Harry B. Miller. The Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation is sourced from VHS and features various make-up and creature effects tests and on-set work. There’s also a few TV and radio spots and a pair of photo galleries. The Still Gallery contains 46 stills of on-set photos, promotional photos, and key art. The Behind-the-Scenes Gallery features 48 stills of actors being put into make-up, creature designs, and animatronic tests.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie was long overdue for the Collector’s Edition treatment when Scream Factory and Red Shirt Pictures finally were able to tackle it, and their 4K UHD upgrade certainly improves upon what’s come before with a superior presentation and a quality supplementary package. For fans old and new, this one is a no-brainer. Highly recommended!

- Tim Salmons

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