Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A young boy tells three stories of horror to distract a witch who plans to eat him.

  • This is really three shorter movies, bound together by a fourth tale in which the other three stories are read. The first segment features an animated mummy stalking selected student victims; the second tale tells the story of a "cat from Hell" who cannot be killed and leaves a trail of victims behind it; the third story is about a man who witnesses a bizarre killing and promises never to tell what he saw, and the "in-between" bit is the story of a woman preparing to cook her newspaper boy for supper.

  • Betty prepares a dinner party for eight guests with little Timmy, caged in the kitchen, to be the main dish. Buying time whilst hoping to escape, Timmy tells three horror stories: "Lot 249" - student Lee uses his best friend Andy's sister Susan to oust nerd Bellingham and take his place at the university. In retaliation, Bellingham brings a mummy to his room and, using a scroll to revive the dead, takes revenge against Lee and Susan, and later Andy. "Cat from Hell" - millionaire Drogan hires hit-man Halston to slay a cat-from-Hell that has killed three other people who lived with him at his mansion. Halston soon learns that the cat is truly from Hell. "Lover's Vow" - washed up artist Preston goes to friend Jer's bar to meet his agent Wyatt who thereby tells him he won't be his agent anymore. Preston commiserates until Jer closes the bar. As they leave together, Jer is attacked out of the blue and decapitated by a gargoyle. Preston is spared by promising the gargoyle never to reveal what has happened or what he saw. The gargoyle flies away. As Preston scurries home, he finds a woman, Carola, nearby and invites her to his flat to call a cab. They begin a romance. Ten years later and happily married with two children, Preston decides to disclose his secret to his wife - with tragic consequences for himself and his family.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The story presents three vignettes that are all tied together with a "wrap-around" story concerning a witch, Betty, who has kidnapped a young boy, Timmy, and holds him prisoner. Betty plans to roast him in her oven and serve him at a dinner party for more of her witch friends. To pass the time in his cell, Betty had given Timmy an old, thick book called "Tales From the Darkside". When she reveals her plans for him, Timmy begins to stall her by reading her some of the stories.

    The first story is called "Lot 249". At a prestigious university, a nerdy student, Bellingham, is bullied by two rich students, Susan and Lee, who are quite contemptuous of him because he's a work-study student. Susan's brother, Andy, helps Bellingham one night with a new specimen that has arrived in the archeology department: an ancient mummy. Speaking about how the ancient Egyptians would draw the corpse's brains out through it's nose with a hook and stuff vegetables into it's abdomen, Bellingham finds the incision in the mummy's abdomen where his preparers had stuffed him with herbs and onions. Bellingham also finds an ancient scroll and remarks that it's fairly worthless. Andy leaves and Bellingham reads the scroll, finding a spell that will bring the mummy to life to be his servant. Bellingham been cheated out of a teaching assistant's position in his department, an incident that somehow involved both Susan and Lee.

    Bellingham brings the mummy to life and sends it after Lee. It stalks Lee through his apartment, finally cornering him and forcing a hooked wire hanger up his nose, killing him. Susan returns home to find Lee's brain on a table in the front hall and Lee himself partially wrapped in cloth bandages. The mummy attacks her, chasing her through the house, where she becomes lodged in the broken window of the front door. The mummy uses a large pair of scissors and slashes her back open, stuffing the wound with flowers from a vase.

    Andy goes to Lee and Susan's place and finds them both dead. Suspicious of Bellingham, he goes to Bellingham's apartment and find him there with the mummy. He knocks Bellingham unconscious and ties him up. When Bellingham comes to, Andy demands that he turn over the scroll. Bellingham refuses at first and then begins to recite the incantation to bring the mummy to life and attack Andy. Andy is able to defend himself quite easily with an electric carving knife, dismembering the mummy. Bellingham finally directs Andy to a scroll, which he burns in the fireplace, along with the mummy's limbs. Bellingham ultimately leaves the university. While he rides away in a cab, he chuckles to himself. The driver asks him what he's laughing about & Bellingham tells him that a person like Andy would never know the difference between one ancient scroll and another - the scroll he reads is the actual one from the mummy. He recites from it and rides off. Later, Andy answers his door and finds Susan and Lee standing there, re-animated as mummies, ready to kill him.

    Back in Betty's kitchen, she tells Timmy that she knows he's trying to stall his death. Timmy convinces her to let him tell another story and she listens to him read "Cat From Hell."

    Halston, a high-priced assassin, arrives at an old mansion, having been summoned there by an old man in a wheelchair, Drogan. Drogan tells Halston that he has an unusual mark for him to dispatch: a black cat. The cat has supposedly killed Halston's sisters, Carolyn and Amanda. Both sisters had befriended the cat, feeding it and showing it affection over Drogan's objections that it was evil. Carolyn was killed when the cat, sitting on a staircase riser, tripped over it and fell to her death. Amanda had been killed when the cat laid on her face while she was asleep.

    Halston is skeptical. Drogan introduces him to the cat, which sits quietly in Halston's lap for a few minutes. When Halston smirks at the ease of such a lucrative job, he tries to strangle the cat. The cat slashes him with it's claws and escapes. Drogan tells Halston that his pharmaceutical company had tested a new medication on thousands of subjects, all of them cats. He now believes the cat has been sent to take revenge on him and his family.

    Drogan leaves the house, bidding Halston to kill the cat by the time he comes home and also suggesting he not get angry, which will cloud his ability to kill it. Drogan checks over his weapons and tries several methods of killing the cat, all of which fail. When the cat leaps at him and scratches his neck, Halston becomes furious. At one point he tricks the cat into approaching and eating from a dish of food - he uses a laser sighting scope to target the cat, fires his pistol and misses. Fully enraged, Halston chases the cat through the house. The cat, suddenly leaping on to and knocking Halston down, then forces itself into his mouth, crawls down his esophagus and roosts in his stomach.

    Just before the stroke of midnight, Drogan returns and finds Halston dead on the floor. The cat crawls out of Halston's body and leaps onto Drogan's lap. Drogan has a heart attack and dies.

    In Betty's kitchen, Betty herself is impatient with Timmy, who persuades her to listen to one final story from the book, "Lover's Vow".

    An out-of-work artist, Preston, is being told by his agent that he can't help him if he can't overcome his creator's block. The two leave the bar they'd met at; in the alley outside, Preston's friend is attacked by a monstrous gargoyle, who decapitates the man with one slash of it's claws. Preston shrinks in terror, begging for his life. The gargoyle makes him promise that he'll never speak of what he saw or the creature that committed the murder. The gargoyle also slashes Preston's body as a reminder. Preston promises to keep his vow and the beast flies off.

    On his way home Preston meets a beautiful woman, Carola. Telling her that the neighborhood is dangerous, he takes her home with him. The two have sex together and fall in love, eventually marrying and having a boy and a girl. Preston also finds that his creativity has returned and he enjoys a successful period of production. However, he is still torn with guilt over the murder of his friend and occasionally draws pictures of the beast, which he is careful to keep from Carola and his children.

    By the time 10 years have passed since Preston witnessed the murder, he decides to tell Carola about the night he met her. He shows her a small sculpture of the gargoyle he'd kept hidden. When Carola sees it, she lets out a mournful scream and begins to transform, saying that Preston had broken his promise - she, herself, is the gargoyle. Preston is shocked and horrified, even more so when their children begin to transform into gargoyles themselves. Carola tells him she's sorry and kills him. She gathers her children together and flies off, breaking through their skylight and settling on a high ledge of a nearby building. They turn to stone, staring mournfully down at Preston's body.

    Back in the witch's kitchen, Betty tells Timmy his time's up. She approaches him with a butcher knife and the keys to his cell and shackles. Timmy frantically tells her he has one more story to tell, one not from the book. Timmy throws some marbles in Betty's path and she slips on them, falling backwards on to the skewers she'd set out. Timmy manages to reach the keys while Betty struggles in pain and he frees himself. He gives her a hard shove, sending her into her own oven, which he slams shut, roasting her alive. Timmy seizes the package of cookies Betty had been feeding him and breaks the "fourth wall" by asking the audience, "Don't you just love happy endings?"

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