The film Tales From The Darkside: The Movie is based on the television series of the same name. This anthology narrative follows three stories told from a young boy who is held prisoner by a suburban housewife who has a cannibalistic appetite for small children. The three stories are as follows: "Lot 249," "The Cat From Hell," and "Lover’s Vow".
Rather than focusing on the first two stories ("Cat From Hell" being my personal favorite), I want to focus on the last story in the film, aptly titled "Lover’s Vow". "Lover’s Vow" is an interracial romance starring James Remar (Preston) and Rae Dawn Chong (Carola). As a young black girl nerd growing up, seeing interracial romances on screen were rare and seeing a black female in an interracial romance was…well, let’s just say the likelihood of being struck by lightning was far greater.
My interest was piqued when I saw the iconic 80s Chong with her massive curly tendrils lit so beautifully by the moonlight when she is discovered by Preston in a New York City alleyway. This encounter happens immediately after Preston is confronted by a gargoyle and must swear that he shall never reveal its identity to anyone.
"Lover’s Vow" as the title implies is more romance than horror. The romantic element to this story always piqued my interest. I was interested in seeing two people, one black and one white fall in love with no boundaries. The story is short and succinct and does not leave much room to talk about issues of interracial dating, but I am always fascinated when couples of two completely different cultural backgrounds fall in love and not once is the issue of the color of their skin ever mentioned.
Race and culture should never be oblivious, however sometimes writers feel compelled to provide some discourse on the issue of race whenever we see an interracial couple. What I loved about Carola and Preston’s desire is that it was electric and instantaneous. Preston had eyes for Carola the moment he invited her to his loft to use his phone to place a call for help. Back when this film was produced there were no cell phones remember?
Their chemistry was palpable and the moment that coitus began and ended. The two found bliss in spite of all of perilous activities that took place just moments before. Their one-night stand turned into a long term monogamous relationship that led to marriage and two adorable children. When we fast forward into the future to see Carola and Preston tenured into 10 years of marriage, the two illustrate the same kind of magnetism they had when they first met. Preston has a thriving career and Carola is a proud wife who is experiencing the joys of motherhood. The world is perfect. Nothing can go wrong.
Let’s just say the film’s title tells you how this story will end.
If we rewind back to the night when the despondent Preston met Carola, he was visited in a dark alley by a gargoyle. Preston witnessed the bartender of the pub he frequently patronized get killed right before his eyes. The gargoyle offered him a promise in exchange for his life. If Preston promised to never tell what happened that fateful evening, his life would be spared. Preston made his promise to the gargoyle and the creature promptly disappeared. Moments later Preston meets Carola who turned out to be his lover and soulmate.
I say that last statement in jest, but I still find this to be one of those horror movies with a black female character that piqued my interest. There were not many films I saw with brown girls like myself growing up, so when I saw Rae Dawn Chong in "Lover’s Vow," I knew this was a film I would have a connection with. Chong has played a myriad of roles where she has been involved in interracial relationships like Soul Man, The Squeeze, Curiosity Kills and more. Chong is an ethnic blend of many races which makes her almost racially ambiguous, so playing the role of the Black girl who is the apple of the White guy’s eye happens more for her than many other Black actresses.
So what is the point of this narrative? It’s simply a moment to reflect on racial ambiguity in relationships in horror films. There can be more films discussed on this subject (i.e., Angel Heart) but that shall be a post for another day. I’m pretty certain this could easily be a series. Time to Netflix some more films for research.
Jamie Broadnax is the writer and creator of the niche blogsite for nerdy women of color called Black Girl Nerds. She currently creates content along with a team of contributors about a myriad of topics that speaks to the geek community. Jamie also is the VP of Digital for the SheThrives Network. She has written content for Madame Noire and AfroPunk. You can follow her on Twitter (@jamiebroadnax)