Deadtime Stories Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Jeffrey Delman
Written by Jeffrey Delman, Charles. F Shelton and J. Edward Kiernan
1986, 83 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on February 28th, 2017
Scott Valentine as Peter
Melissa Leo as Mama Baer
Nicole Picard as Rachel (Red Running Hood)
Matt Mitler as Willie (Big Bad Wolf)
Cathryn DePrume as Goldi Lox
Kevin Hannon as Papa Baer
Timothy Rule as Baby Baer
Michael Mesmer as Uncle Mike
Brian DePersia as Little Brian
Uncle Mike wants nothing more than to relax to some late-night softcore Cable Vision entertainment, but he keeps getting cock-blocked by young Brian whom he is babysitting. The kid insists monsters are lying in wait to do him harm once the lights are out and wants to hear bedtime stories, but none of the popular ones. Left to his own devices Mike makes up a fairy tale about a black forest, a boy named Peter and two evil witches. In the story, Peter is a slave forced to help his evil masters kill villagers in order for them to perform a ritual that will bring back their wicked sister from the grave. The story plods along at such a mind-numbing pace that even little Brian is not satisfied with the conclusion.
A second story is required and this time Mike gets a little more creative with some pre-existing material. “Little Red Riding Hood” is put through the wringer as a horny high school student out looking for sex – and medicine for her grandma – in that order. A mix-up at the pharmacy brings a rockin’ guy named Willie, a real big bad wolf to grandma’s front door as “Red” takes her sweet time to arrive. Things once again are shaken up in the finale, but still not enough to satisfy the kid. Mike brings out his best story of the night as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is spun into a tale of mental illness, bloody murder and family values. Some kids are difficult to please while others simply get what they deserve – which will Brian be?
Deadtime Stories (1986) is a labor of love from director Jeffrey Delman who spent the better part of three years making the film. He co-wrote the screenplay with Charles F Shelton and J. Edward Kiernan and while some of the ideas are inspired, the overall results are lacking. The first story (“The Black Forest”) was originally conceived as a stand-alone feature before the anthology format was considered. Scott Valentine (My Demon Lover) stars as Peter, the lovesick slave to the wicked witches. The languid pacing is enough to make you scream, but luckily there is at least one standout section involving the resurrection of a corpse. The second story (“Little Red Running Hood”) also suffers from weak direction and poor plotting, but once again there is a standout make-up effects sequence this time involving a transforming werewolf. The final story (“Goldi Lox and the Three Baers”) is completely different in tone and style from what came before which makes it the best of the bunch. Melissa Leo (Homicide: Life on the Streets) appears as the crazed mother dealing with her equally insane husband and son, but the star of this segment is Cathryn de Prume (Wild) as Goldi Lox, a telekinetic murderess.
I first saw Deadtime Stories at a movie theater while still in high school and I’ve got to tell you after almost three decades, this film doesn’t really hold up. I won’t beat up on it as it is clearly a low budget offering. It misses the mark at almost every opportunity, but is still a bit of a guilty pleasure likely due to my age at the time of its release. Some people will inevitably get more mileage out of this one than others, but I will hedge my bets and say it is an average offering that you wouldn’t feel terrible for watching late at night on cable.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and having received a fresh 2K scan of the original negative, the image is very appealing and stronger than the DVD that popped up many years ago. That transfer was sourced from a murky full frame VHS that stopped playing during the closing credits, resulting in an awkward conclusion to the viewing experience. Colors on this new Blu-ray pop and flesh tones appear natural throughout and details once lost are freshly on display.
Audio arrives with the original 2.0 stereo track giving a solid albeit limited mix that is front heavy. Dialogue and music levels are well balanced and never intrusive.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Given the relative obscurity of this title, Scream Factory has provided a surprisingly thorough set of supplemental materials.
Jeffrey Delman delivers an interesting and informative audio commentary in which he discusses the lengthy production process and the lasting friendships of the cast and crew.
Delman sits down for the interview segment I Like the Grotesque (16 minutes), in which he repeats some of the information from the commentary, but is candid in his honesty regarding some of the short-comings of the project.
Band of Gypsies (16 minutes) is a look back at the making of the film featuring new interviews with actors Scott Valentine, Melissa Leo and Cathryn de Prume. All three have nothing but fond memories of working with Delman and confirm the director’s comments about making longtime friends while shooting a movie.
In his commentary Delman talks about how when filming the first story “The Black Forest”, he considered making this one tale feature length. An alternate cut (30 minutes) of the story is presented here.
A pair of deleted scenes (3 minutes) offers a look at the introductions of Goldi Lox and Red Running Hood.
The original theatrical trailer is paired with additional marketing material.
Various posters and home video artwork are among the images found in the still gallery slideshow.