‘You’ll pray for dawn.’
Deadtime Stories is a 1986 American horror anthology feature film directed by Jeffrey Delman. It is also known as Freaky Fairytales (in the UK), The Griebels (European DVD title) and The Griebels from Deadtime Stories (Netherlands).
Young Brian is unable to sleep (“it’s too dark!”) and beleaguered Uncle Peter, who has seen fit to babysit whilst wearing a shirt and tie, begrudgingly comes to the rescue, agreeing to tell him a story to help him nod off. Off the (shirt) cuff, he begins with a tale about two witches who employ the hero (played by Uncle Peter) into attracting people to their lair in order for them to use them as sacrifices to resurrect a third sibling. Uncle Peter drags his made-up yarn out for an inordinate amount of time, somehow shoehorning some comments about bondage in along the way. His nephew is eight years-old.
Happy he’s corrupted the child into slumber, Peter is sadly mistaken, the increasingly annoying Brian summoning him to his room once more as he thinks there’s a monster in his room. Peter expresses his dismay by telling Brian he’s missing Miss Nude USA on TV. Lining up another tale, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, concentrating on the sexual elements, starting off with Ms Hood fantasising about a handsome stranger molesting her. The wolf, actually a werewolf, dispatches Grandma as expected but the issue is complicated by the fact that the werewolf has mislaid some rather important drugs. Are you asleep yet?
Thirdly and thankfully finally, Uncle wheels out his take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, re-titled Goldi Lox And The Three Baers, seeing the criminal family of Baers escaping a mental asylum, only to break into the house of a psychic female serial killer. The wraparound story concludes with something from the bottom of the props cupboard looming towards Brian whilst Uncle loosens his tie to settle down to Miss Ohio’s talents.
In the wake of Creepshow and the renewed interest in the anthology film, Deadtime Stories is an unmitigated disaster, three stories that seem to last an eternity, awful acting and some extremely misjudged attempts at throwing ‘comedy’ into the mix.
The writing is on the wall from the off, both the intro and outro to the film feature ‘songs’ – truly face-clawing efforts featuring Casio-like synths, horrid drum machines and lyrics which not only challenge everything you ever thought about rhyme but have to be ‘speed-sung’ to get them to fit the tune. I use the word’ tune’ advisedly.
Uncle Peter, played by Family Ties actor Scott Valentine, appears far too much for an actor of such limited ability, though he can scarcely be blamed for behaviour that nowadays would probably attract the attention of Operation Yewtree. Step forward director, producer, lyricist and yes, actor, Jeffrey Delman, whose other claims to fame are for writing Troma’s Stuck on You and distantly being a relative of genius composer Bernard Herrmann.
Elsewhere, actors of ‘note’ include Rachel (the Red Riding Hood lead), played by Nicole Picard, who also had a bit-part in Ghoulies Go to College, werewolf Matt Mitler, also seen in The Mutilator, and accidental mainstream breakout, Melissa Leo (Mama Baer) who appeared recently in Tom Cruise box office shoulder-shrug Oblivion and 2013’s annual excuse to cast Morgan Freeman as the President, Olympus Has Fallen.
Eight months after the film’s theatrical run, it was released on videocassette in 1987 by Continental Video in the U.S. and in Canada by Cineplex Odeon. The film was initially available on DVD via Mill Creek’s Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack. That box was later discontinued when it was revealed that Deadtime Stories was not in the Public Domain. Mill Creek did get one thing right – it is chilling.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA
“He tells a little kid stories about whores, drug dealers, robbers, himbo priests… what kind of asshole uncle is this? … He doesn’t even get his comeuppance at the end, as the filmmakers choose to murder the little kid instead of him. Nice. I think I love this movie.” Brian W. Collins, Horror Movie a Day
“Get yourself some half-completed stories, a special effects guy looking to prove himself, some bad synths, and there you go: Mid-80s anthology horror at its best. But it wasn’t quite that simple. Deadtime Stories takes that formula and somehow makes something that, for the most part, is totally unenjoyable.” The Betamax Rundown
“While I did think that the Goldi Lox story was pretty funny, the rest of the movie failed big time. I’m also actually really surprised by how many people on Netflix and Youtube said they watched this as a kid… I don’t really think it’s for kids. It’s not scary, but there’s some nudity and a lot of sexual themes. The jokes were pretty bad, but they seemed to be aimed more at adults than kids…” The Fairy Tale Critic
Cast and characters:
Scott Valentine as Peter
Nicole Picard as Rachel (Red Riding Hood)
Matt Mitler as Willie (Werewolf)
Cathryn de Prume as Goldi Lox
Melissa Leo as Judith “MaMa” Baer
Kathy Fleig as Miranda
Phyllis Craig as Hanagohl
Michael Mesmer as Uncle Mike
Brian DePersia as Little Brian
Kevin Hannon as Beresford “Papa” Baer
Timothy Rule as Wilmont “Baby” Baer
Anne Redfern as Florinda
Casper Roos as Vicar
Barbara Seldon as Seductress
Leigh Kilton as Seductress
Lesley Sank as Reviving Magoga
Lisa Cain as Living Magoga
Jeffrey Delman as Strangling Man
Michael Berlinger as Greg
Fran Lopate as Grandma
John Bachelder as Drugstore Clerk
Caroline Carrigan as Nurse
Oded Carmi as Groundskeeper / Postman
Heather L. Baley as Girl in Store
Thea as Dog
Bob Trimboli as Lt. Jack B. Nimble
Harvey Pierce as Capt. Jack B. Quick
Rondell Sheridan as Looney Bin Guard
Beth Felty as Reporter
Patrick McCord as Anchor
Michele Mars as Waitress
Ron Bush as Bank Guard
Bryant Tausek as Man At Car
Suzanna Vaucher as Weather Girl
Leif Wennestrom as Dead Body
Jim Nocell as Dead Body
Evan L. Delman as Police Sergeant