Tales From the Crypt was one of my favorite shows growing up. The Cryptkeeper, through the distinctive voice of John Kassir, brought cheesy puns while each episode featured twisted and frightening tales. The horror anthology Tales From the Other Side has a character who explicitly mentions the show, which, along with anthology films such as Trick ‘r Treat (which I also loved), clearly heavily influenced this production.
The film features six different stories that Scary Mary (Roslyn Gentle) tells to three kids who happen upon her home on Halloween. Tina (Anna Harr), Rod (Tristan Lee Griffin), and their younger friend say that they want to have the “most legendary” Halloween night ever, and boy do they ever when they run into the woman legend says is pure evil. The strongest part of the film to me is when Mary is interacting with the kids because she’s great at giving off a creepy vibe, while the children seem genuinely frightened.
However, Tales From the Other Side itself isn’t very scary. Horror on a low budget is quite difficult to pull off because the effects and monsters are usually too crude to be effective. A case in point is the “Krampus vs. Elf” stop motion segment, which is cool in theory but not so much in execution because it’s so slow. I don’t blame the filmmakers. They’re doing the best that they can with the limited tools at hand.
“…six different stories that Scary Mary tells to three kids who happen upon her home on Halloween.”
“The Petrified Boy” is another example. This section stars a wooden doll who is supposed to creep the audience out. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure what else a director can do in that case, except for going the Jaws method, where you hardly show the monster and utilize POV shots in order to let the viewer fill in the terrifying blanks.
Some stories are more on the psychological side of terror, such as “Blood Red” and “Crystal Ball.” I found these to be short, simple morality tales that are enjoyable, but nothing that hasn’t been done before. “Flicker” and “Either/Or” are also fun, mind-trip, Twilight Zone-esque sequences. Again, nothing mind-blowing here, but not bad for a lighter flavor.
Tales From the Other Side doesn’t live up to the classics that influenced it, nor does it have to in order to be worth checking out if you’re into horror anthologies. All six segments featured a different director, and there were seven writers (including Zack Ward, who played the legendary bully named Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story), so there’s a mix of different styles.
Teenage me probably would’ve enjoyed Tales From the Other Side more because it seems like it may be better suited for a younger audience. Even then, I still wouldn’t have been by scared it, which is a bit of a challenge for a horror flick. There is some blood and more mature material in the movie, so I believe that the filmmakers may have been better served to go full-on PG Goosebumps-style in order to appeal to an even younger demographic.
"…worth checking out if you’re into short horror films."