Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is a delightful collection of three horror stories. While the first two in the film are good, the third and last story in the collection, Lover's Vow, is nothing less than superb. Lover's Vow would have, quite appropriately, been made into a full-length film. It would have been wonderful to have seen this as one installment in a series of Tales from the Darkside films.
Lover's Vow is a love story borne out of the womb of darkness itself. Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) is beautiful and seductive, and her overwhelming maternal energy and beauty nicely compliments the persona exuded by Preston (James Remar), with his obvious yearning for security and stability.
The build-up to the quite tragic ending is lovely. Penniless New York artist Preston is confronted with a living horror. He witnesses the death of a friend at the hands of a gargoyle. The gargoyle spares Preston's life in exchange for keeping his knowledge of its existence a secret. He can tell no one what he saw and heard. On the way home, he meets beautiful Carola, and he beckons her to come with him, fearing that the creature may be lingering about.
But, unknown to Preston, he has just taken the monster with him. This fact is in no way made apparent to the viewer; Preston exudes his compassion and blankets a seemingly innocent woman. Immediately attracted to one other, they consummate their blossoming passion in a truly wonderful love scene. A bluish light engulfing them, coupled with lovely music, they kiss and caress. Knowing how tragically the story ends, the scene becomes all the more beautiful.
Toward the end, Carola and Preston are engaged in discussion about their future. Preston suggests a myriad of possibilities; he, ultimately, just wants the one woman that he loves to be happy. "There is nothing you can give me that I don't already have..." she says. His answer: "Yes, there is." He then divulges his secret to her, while handing her a handmade statue of the gargoyle he'd seen. Carola slowly grasps it and begins to pace away. Clutching the statue and weeping, she turns and says, in anger and pain, "You promised you'd never tell!"
Carola's humanity is lost; the broken vow becomes the key to death's door, for both him and their love. In a macabre scene, Carola begins to transmogrify into a gargoyle; their children do like wise.
Preston beckons her to change back, and, mid-stride between humanity and nonhuman monstrosity, Carola states: "I can't." Hearing the heart-wrenching sounds of his children in pain from the change, he asks her to halt this horrifying procession. The gargoyle states: "It's too late, you betrayed your vow." The gargoyle embraces Preston, and when she does so, he says: "Carola, I loved you," his voice seeming to hiss the word "love." Uttering that she had loved him, too, she kills him. Resting his body gently on the floor, she weeps in pain.
With her children in tow, Carola flies into the night. She becomes a frozen statue atop an old building, clutching her children, to wait for the moment when the cycle of love and death must reiterate itself.
I cannot stress enough what a wonderful job the filmmakers did with this particular story. If you are a horror fan and would like to see some fine horror stories not laden with cheap, low-budget CGI (I'd rather see low-budget puppetry), then at least rent it if only to watch Lover's Vow. Horror and romance are entwined in a very delicate story about simple humanity, the yearning for love, and love's sometimes all-consuming pain.