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Script to Pieces: Tales from the Darkside 2

Tales from the Darkside

Welcome to Script to Pieces, a recurring feature at Wicked Horror where we look at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times, they will be original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.

When I was a kid, Tales from the Darkside was my Twilight Zone. I would of course watch the original Twilight Zone series and have many fond memories of its endless reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel, but I would be glued to the screen whenever Darkside was on. There was something about it that instantly captivated me. It was a darker anthology series, grittier but keeping the perverse sense of humor of Creepshow, as well as the nightmarish practical FX. There were creatures on this show scarier than what I’ve seen in most movies.

Yet it was the Stephen King fan in me that led me to actively seek out Tales from the Darkside: The Movie as a youngster. Well, that and the demonic, grinning face that stared out at me from the VHS cover when I would browse the horror aisles at my local video store.

Tales from the Darkside.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a truly excellent, underrated anthology feature. Ironically, it was the King fan inside that led me to watch it, but it was the King segment that was the weakest of the three. While there’s something hilarious about the general idea of a hitman hired to shoot a murderous cat, it didn’t astonish me the same way that “Lot 249” and—especially—“Lover’s Vow” did. The first worked because I’m a sucker for mummies and the latter is simply one of the best segments of any horror anthology.

But while many fans consider Tales from the Darkside to be the true Creepshow 3, it was never intended to be such. It was its own thing, a spinoff film to a successful anthology TV series. Yes, it was spiritually similar and had many of the same people involved, but creator George Romero never considered it to be a sequel. In fact, it was meant to launch a film franchise of its own after the TV series had ended.

Originally announced in 1990, Tales from the Darkside 2 at least made it to the script stage before being abandoned. It was written by Michael McDowell and George Romero, the same team that had written the original. This time, instead of focusing on three different masters of horror, it would contain more King-based tales and one tale based on a story by Psycho creator Robert Bloch.

Tales from the Darkside 1990

The Bloch story, “Almost Human” is about a professor who creates a robot that develops some very dark tendencies. It’s a very early sci-fi story that plays like a twisted take on Pinocchio. And that’s what makes it truly interesting. But it’s also a bit similar to I, Robot. Although, depending on the success of the adaptation process, it could easily have turned out as something more along the lines of Deadly Friend.

The first of the two Stephen King stories that would have been featured in the sequel was “Rainy Season,” which first appeared in Nightmares and Dreamscapes. As a fan of King’s short stories and that collection in general, I would have loved to have seen this one adapted for the screen. It would have been such a bizarre, sinister, campy monster-filled segment that audiences would either love or hate.

The story is about a couple on vacation in the town of Willow, Maine. They are repeatedly told by the locals to leave. Obviously, they don’t listen. Returning to the house they’ve rented, they discover that every seven years, two outsiders are sacrificed to the “rainy season.” The rain, however, comes from giant, monstrous black toads with needle sharp teeth. On the screen, this could have either gone in the direction of “The Crate” or the final segment from Cat’s Eye. I would have been fine either way.

Tales from the Darkside 1990The last segment, written by Romero, would have been “Pinfall.” This segment was originally written for Creepshow 2, but was cut for budgetary reasons. It was replaced by “The Hitchhiker,” which had been originally cut out of the first Creepshow. Centered on two rival bowling teams with an old man trapped in the middle, “Pinfall” is a story of supernatural comeuppance that’s very much in the tradition of the original Creepshow.

In fact, in an earlier edition of “Script to Pieces” I pointed out that “Pinfall” had also originally been intended to appear in Creepshow 3, which also wound up not coming to fruition—aside from an in-name-only sequel in 2007 with none of the original crew involved.

In many ways, Tales from the Darkside 2 feels like the long-lost Creepshow sequel that most fans consider the first Tales movie to be. It would have included more of that wonderful, sick sense of humor that made the first two so great. It would have been more heavily influenced by Stephen King, which could only have been a good thing. Sadly, it never materialized. But at least, thanks to streaming services, people are finally giving Tales from the Darkside: The Movie the attention it deserves.

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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