Reviews & Ratings for
"Tales from the Darkside" The Yattering and Jack (1987)

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

One of my favorite screenplays.

10/10
Author: Tommy Nelson from Long Beach, California
3 August 2006

Guest starring Phil Fondacarro.

This was one of the strangest episodes. It's actually quite scary, but even more humorous. It deals with a nice old man and having his grown daughter over for Christmas. She becomes scared to death when odd things happen in the house, like a dancing turkey and a mirror breaking randomly. He ignores it. We learn this creature is called a Yattering (Fondacarro), and the creature is sent by Satan to drive people insane. If the Yattering touches a human, the Yattering becomes their slave. It's a fun and great episode. It can be found on VHS volume 5.

My rating: Perfect episode. 21 mins. TV PG

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Tales from the Darkside: The Yattering and Jack

6/10
Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
27 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think what ultimately belies "The Yattering and Jack" is Clive Barker's name attached to it. The expectations would be tremendous, and the television medium just isn't the right format for a Barker tale. Phil Fondacaro is the well known dwarf actor often hired during the 80s and 90s…in the horror genre especially. Here he is a red demon with a dog collar and horns, ripping up Christmas presents and causing mayhem in the hopes of securing the soul of Antony Carbone (Roger Corman's Pit and the Pendulum) for his master, Beelzebub (a thunderous-voiced Thomas Newman, looking like a menace from a leather bar). Carbone's a breezy kind of chap who doesn't really let set-backs and disappointments dominate his self-esteem ("Que Sera, Sera" is his mantra), so the task for Fondacaro will be a difficult one. Danielle Brisebois is the daughter of Carbone, reacting frightfully at an animated turkey and active Christmas tree (credit to Fondacaro's creativity). Carbone's positive attitude is a detriment to Fondacaro at every turn. Set during Christmas, carolers absolutely set Fondacaro's nerves on end and Beelzebub becomes terribly impatient with his lack of success. Soon Carbone decides he might return to his unfaithful wife (Fondacaro claims credit for planting lustful thoughts in her mind so she would go astray), which Beelzebub knows will be the ultimate defeat and loss of a condemned soul…with a clever trick that will fool Fondacaro, if Carbone succeeds in getting touched before his soul is lost, the little demon will have to serve his human target! The special effects (the usual poltergeist stuff like items being thrown by an invisible force and the aforementioned turkey) are okay, but the game cast makes the most of the material. Barker's screenplay has a devilish good time with the nature of heaven and hell, allowing a rare change in how good outsmarts evil in a Tales from the Darkside episode.

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Delightful comic episode

8/10
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
25 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Happy go lucky salesman Jack Polo (a lively and engaging performance by Anthony Carbone) has his Christmas festivities disrupted by the unruly intrusion of the Yattering (robustly played with rascally glee by Phil Fondacaro), a diminutive horned demon who's trying to claim Jack's soul to no avail.

Director David Odell, working from a clever script by Clive Barker, offers a nice evocation of the yuletide spirit, relates the enjoyable story at a snappy pace, maintains a likable lighthearted tone throughout, and further jazzes things up with an amusing sense of amiable off-the-wall humor (the Yattering makes both a turkey and a Christmas tree come to destructive life!). The adorable Danielle Brisebois lends sturdy support as Jack's sweet daughter Amanda while Thomas Newman attacks his juicy role as Beelzebub with deliciously growly gusto. Best of all, there's a spot-on uplifting central message about the enduring strength of having a constantly optimistic outlook on life. An extremely fun show.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Waste of a good Clive Barker

4/10
Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
29 June 2015

THE YATTERING AND JACK has the distinction of being an episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE written by Clive Barker, one of Britain's leading novelists and short story writers, a guy synonymous with horror (HELLRAISER et al). Unfortunately, the decision to make this into a silly, slapstick-oriented comedy means that it's yet another ruined story, packed with wasted potential.

The story is a simple one, with an unlikeable salesman attempting to enjoy Christmas with his daughter only to find himself haunted by a tiny demon with designs on his sanity. If you like watching a dwarf actor running around in devil make-up then this may be for you, but I admit I was easily bored with the premise. If it had been done even semi-seriously it would have been a lot better...

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3 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Could have been so much more.

5/10
Author: Paul Andrews (poolandrews@hotmail.com) from UK
30 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tales from the Darkside: The Yattering and Jack is set during Christmas & starts as a young woman named Amanda (Danielle Brisebois) decides to spend it with her father Jack (Anthony Carbone). Once at her fathers house she notices strange things, pictures have fallen off the walls, there are strange noises, smells & the Christmas turkey comes to life. A little demon called the Yattering (Phil Fondacaro) is responsible & has instructions from his boss in hell Beelzebub (Thomas Newman) that he must break Jack's soul & will so that he will renounce God & when he dies will go to hell where he will be damned for all eternity but Jack is a very strong willed person who won't be broken easily...

Episode 7 from season 4 this Tales from the Darkside story originally aired in the US during November 1987 which I think was a bit too early for a Christmas themed episode but what do I know? Directed by David Odell the most interesting aspect of The Yattering and Jack is not that it features a half naked midget demon from hell wearing a dog collar around his neck & sporting two horns & a bad mullet hairdo, no it's the fact that acclaimed horror author Clive Barker wrote the thing based on one of his short stories. I suspect his involvement didn't go beyond the actually teleplay since the tone is far too uneven for Barker who likes his horror dark, Gothic & bleak. The S&M symbolism present in a lot of Barker's work is here, the leader of hell wearing a cape & a leather suit complete with silver studding & the Yattering wearing leather pants & a dog collar around his neck but as a whole the story isn't that great. At only twenty odd minutes in length there isn't enough time to develop the character's or the game of wills between the Yattering & Jack or the twist ending which one felt should have been much more darker & ironic than it came across. The Yattering and Jack is watchable I suppose but mainly for curiosity value as one of Barker's earliest screen works.

Like many Tales from the Darkside episodes The Yattering and Jack is set in one location, Jack's house. There are a few simple special effects, the dancing turkey looks a bit odd & I suspect if Barker was directing there would have been lots of blood, lots of twisted surreal imagery & a much more macabre atmosphere to it rather than the light comical tone that comes across as it is now. Typecast rent a midget Phil Fondacaro does OK but looks silly while the rest of the cast are unknown to me.

The Yattering and Jack is an average Tales from the Darkside episode, seeing as Clive Barker wrote the thing you have every right to expect more although I doubt the finished episode worked out as he had hoped.

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