B-Sides: Tell Me a Deadtime Story

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One reason Deadtime Stories may not so well remembered today could be because, as its theme song so astutely notes, those bedtime tales we were told as a kid were already quite screwed up when you stop and think about it.

A wolf that tries to eat a little girl after killing her grandmother and disguising itself as her, another wolf that wants to eat three innocent pigs and is willing to destroy their homes to get to them, a cannibalistic witch only thwarted when kids burn her alive in her own oven: three classic bedtime stories, like so many others, that if they weren’t considered centuries old classics would by today standards be considered too dark and violent for little kids.

The 1986 anthology Deadtime Stories put an even more horrifying twist on the classic tales of a boy confronting a wicked witch, a modern spin on “Little Red Riding Hood”, and “Goldielocks and the Three Bears” reimagined as a sexed-up story of a psychotic girl and a trio of thieves.

Jeffrey Delman not only co-wrote and directed the film, along with musician Larry Juris, he’s responsible for the terrific opening credits song “Bedtime Tales” that denotes just how disturbing some of our most famous fairy tales are. All the while, human and monstrous hands fight over which one gets to turn the pages of the big book of opening credits.

B-Sides: Tell Me a Deadtime Story

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  1. I saw it two or three times when I was a teenager. It was extremely tongue-in-cheek, especially the last story, which ventured on parody. The movie used the framing device of an alcoholic uncle telling bedtime stories to his bratty nephew, who claims to be afraid of a monster in his room. In practice, it was very similar to 1987’s “The Princess Bride,” with the kid interjecting editorial commentary at times.

    The first story, “Peter and the Witches,” is more of a traditional fairy tale. A young man raised by two witches is sent to lure a maiden for sacrifice to resurrect their dead sister. He falls for the girl and wackiness ensues.

    The second story, “Little Red Running Suit,” has a teenage jogger go to meet her boyfriend for a late-night shag, only to be pursued by a werewolf.

    The last story, “Goldi Lox and the Three Baers,” is about an insane girl with psychokinetic powers who falls in love with the giant retarded son in a family of career criminals and joins them on a killing spree (“She’ll be like the daughter we never had!” “And you’ll be like the parents I brutally slaughtered!”).

    Unfortunately, the movie dropped out of circulation on cable and had very, very limited releases on VHS and DVD. It’s not a lost classic by any means, but it’s charming and original enough to have earned its cult status. It’s on YouTube in its entirety right now, chopped up into six sections. I recommend watching it before someone gets pissy about copyright.

    • You’re not alone, man. I don’t think it was even covered in Fangoria that year…though 1986 was a pretty crowded year for the genre.

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