Tales From the Crypt – Curiosity Killed (09/16/92)

tftccuriositykilled01Two elderly couples have taken RVs out into the woods for a little vacation.  Jack and Cynthia are miserable.  Or rather, Cynthia is miserable and Jack is miserable because of Cynthia.  She is not happy at all to be outdoors, eating natural foods like rutabagas and bok choy.

On the other hand, Harry and Lucille, in their own RV are having a civil discussion.  Lucille, who has something planned at midnight (she’s black — gee, I wonder whether TFTC will make her a witch doctor or voodoo queen) wonders why they had to bring this unlikable, constantly bickering couple.  Turns out Jack saved Harry’s life at Guadalcanal — you’d think this might have come up in the past 40 years — this weekend is his chance to pay Jack back.

Jack and Harry go off by themselves with shovels and Cynthia thinks they are digging a grave to get rid of her.  In fact,they dig up Harry’s ex-wife tftccuriositykilled02Emma whom he murdered. Bulbs he buried in Emma’s mouth quickly sprout into large white flowers (thanks to some magic bones provided by Lucille, natch).  That night, Lucille sees that Cynthia has become young again.  Harry has become younger also, but frankly I don’t see much of a change in him — apparently even witch-doctors have not conquered male pattern baldness.

Cynthia is thrilled at the prospect of being young and happy again.  Jack says he is too, but he is not going to waste another 25 years watching Cynthia turn again into a hateful, bitter old crone.  Stupidly, they allow her to beat them back to the campsite where she spikes the magic juice.  They are all having a grand tftccuriositykilled03old time as they drink the potion, but within seconds they become emaciated and fall over dead, cracking open as dried out husks.

Cynthia has wisely saved some of the unspiked potion for herself.  She drinks part of it, spilling the rest on the ground where Harry’s dog laps it up.  For a few seconds, Cynthia is happy as she sees her young face in the mirror, and begins dancing.  Unfortunately, Harry’s dog is feeling younger and friskier too and off-screen either rips her throat out, or humps her leg to death.

This was in between times when Margot Kidder (Cynthia) was having some personal tftccuriositykilled07problems.  She had an auto accident that was so bad that she didn’t work for two years.  Four years later, her bi-polar issues surfaced.  So I didn’t really know how much of the old crotchety Margot Kidder I was seeing was real, and how much was make-up and acting.

Based on a few seconds we see her in her natural state, it seems she did an unbelievable job of acting in this role and was supported by some excellent make-up work.  Of course her character was over-the-top, but that’s what TFTC is supposed to be.  Her every body movement, hand gesture and vocal inflection were perfect for this role.  If there were any integrity in Hollywood, this would have won her an award.

tftccuriositykilled08Her performance made her constant bitching a pleasure to watch.  I think another actress playing the part could easily have made the episode unbearable.

It is also a fine story, and the other actors were fine in their lesser roles. There is a nice twist and a coda of questionable necessity, but it worked for me.

Great episode.


  • Title Analysis:  Hunh?  Curiosity killed the cat, but there are no cats in the story.  I wouldn’t describe any of the characters as being particularly curious.  I give it a zero on the title.
  • Lucille was played by Madge Sinclair who did a rare two-peat on Star Trek.
  • tftccuriositykilled09

Faults (2014)

faults01Faults has many tricks up its sleeve.  The first being that the first scene in the diner leads us to expect a Coen Brothers style of comedy.  In fact, cult deprogrammer Ansel Roth seems at times to be perfectly channeling William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo.  He needs money, he is twitchy-nervous, he will constantly tell small shortsighted lies which will only benefit him until the next question.  He even loses control and begins flailing his arms around in frustration.  He a loser.

Though it is impossible to watch this first scene and not start thinking of Macy, it takes only seconds for Leland Orser to replace him in your mind.  Whether he had Macy in mind when forming this character, or not, Orser owns it — both in the first scene and as the tone of the movie changes.

faults02From his brown suit to the gross way he scoops up ketchup with his fries, to his trying to scam the diner out of a free meal and struggling with the manager, it is a great dark comic scene establishing his loserhood.  It is a delight, but not a surprise that he steals batteries out of the hotel’s TV remote.

He exudes a little more confidence when he is standing in front of the small group that is attending his seminar / book-signing seminar at the hotel.  But really, how many people is that topic going to draw?  The ones that are there certainly have little interest in buying his books.  It is strange that they did not set this in a larger room to emphasize the size of the crowd.

faults03Book-signings are kind of anxiety-inducing events anyway.  If it is a popular author, you will have no time at all with them, and walk away with an illegible scribble.  I can’t even conceive what a proper thing to say is.  What could you possibly say to them that they haven’t heard a million times; and what could you ask them that you couldn’t Google in 30 seconds.  You’re left with a full price hard-cover that has gained nothing  in value[1].

faults04If it is a less popular, or local, author, it is just kind of sad seeing them sit at the little table by themselves with stacks of unsold books as you can’t help but glance furtively from your various vantage points in the store.  It’s like a guy at CostCo whose at the end of the aisle whose job is giving out samples of kale.

I am trying (and projecting ahead, probably failing) to make 500 words without saying almost anything about the story.  Claire’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) parents hire Roth to kidnap their daughter for deprogramming from the Faults cult.  Even though he is a loser who has recently fallen-from-grace, he once had a TV show and a popular book.  And frankly there aren’t that many deprogrammers in the yellow pages[2].

There are so many things to be enjoyed along the way, that I just can’t being myself to pick and choose.

This is a good one.


  • [1] The same booksigning issues also all apply to the actors who appear at conventions. At least there you can gawk at the actors — hey, that Traci Lords is holding up well!
  • And paying for an autograph at a convention would just make me feel like a whore even though I’m the one paying (in theory — I don’t really get the point of that either (in the convention context)).
  • [2] Fat yellow books of phone numbers in the old days that listed businesses by category, then alphabetically — so every region had an AAA Bail Bondsman and AAA Locksmith).
  • Title Analysis:  Conveniently, Faults is the name of the cult.  Claire explains that it means a change is on the way.  Roth later describes how pressure can build in a fault causing it to explode.  So, well done.
  • And that’s 600.

Thriller – The Prisoner in the Mirror (05/23/61)

tprisonerinthemirror02Paris 1910 — I ‘m bored already.

A man is entertaining a woman by doing a few magic tricks for her at dinner. Despite not being six, she is charmed by his shenanigans.  He produces a bird from under a napkin — God knows where he had the poor thing jammed during the amuse-bouche and escargot.  Then he releases the filthy creature in the restaurant to shit in everyone’s consomme — to her delight.

Ultimately, she is hypnotized by his reveal of a huge diamond necklace.  But the scene tprisonerinthemirror03turns to horror as she screams, imagining him turn into a skeleton and his bony fingers putting the necklace on her.  He apparently strangles her as the gendarmes come after him as he is painting over an evil mirror. Rather than face trial and be judged mad, he throws himself out the window, uncannily splatting in the spotlight of a curiously focused streetlamp.

“Half a century later,” Boris tells us.

Professor Robert Langdon, er Harry Langham is interested in an old mirror he has read about and has his assistant, Fred Forrest, scouring the antique shoppes and museums looking for it.  Langham himself finally finds the mirror in a Paris antique shoppe, still tprisonerinthemirror04painted over.  As he scrapes away a bit of the paint, he sees the image of a woman killed by the original owner of the mirror.

He has it shipped home to America, or specifically to the home shared by Langham and Forrest.  Forrest wants his sister Kay to marry Langham and settle him down.  They move the mirror up to the bedroom where Langham gets out the paint scraper and cleans the entire mirror.  He sits staring at the mirror for hours, but sees only himself.  Finally in the dark, he sees the woman lighting candles.  She is able to hear him, but can’t speak herself.

When he tries to show his girlfriend Kay, she sees only her own reflection.  And as she is played by a very hot 33 year old Marion Ross (Mrs. C on Happy Days), that should be tprisonerinthemirror07enough.

But Langham throws her out, and is then met by a man in the mirror who explains that the original owner, evil Count Cagliostro has trapped them in that other dimension, but that they are alive.

The man recites an incantation that is supposed to free them from the mirror, but instead hypnotizes Langham into joining them in the mirror dimension. This enables the man to take inhabit Langham’s body outside the mirror.  The woman can now speak and tells him the man was actually the evil Cagliostro.

Cagliostro goes out for a night on the town for the first time in 50 years, foolishly passing up the very hot Mrs. C who was just complaining of Langham not paying enough attention to her.  Luckily for the future Mr. C, Cagliostro picks up a floozy down by the docks and kills her, drawing the police to his house.

tprisonerinthemirror08The next morning, he sets his eyes on Kay.  She is Langham’s girlfriend, and is there first thing in morning, but he wakes up alone in a twin bed?

That night, Kay deduces that he killed the floozy.  Fred busts him for killing Kay.  The mirror is busted in a struggle.

A nice little story, but with major strings left dangling — like the fate of 3 major characters.  Is Langham dead, or trapped forever in the other dimension?  How about the girl in there with him? Most importantly, is Kay actually dead or hypnotized perhaps banished to a mirror downstairs?


  • The representation of the people in the mirror is sometimes fairly amusing as it is obvious they are just standing in a box.  In some scenes not even a sheet of glass has been installed to look like a mirror.
  • Supposedly Marion Ross is given the ironic toast “Happy Days” but I missed it and ain’t going back.
  • One year later, Lloyd Bochner would be hauled aboard a Kanamit spaceship just because no one could decipher that To Serve Man was a cookbook despite the pages and pages of full-color tasty dishes.

Creep (2014)

creep01Hipster Doofus videographer Aaron is heading for the mountains.  He answered an ad for $1,000 per day “filming services, discretion is appreciated.”

Aaron walks up a virtiginous set of steps and knocks; and rings; and calls.  No answer to any of them.  Not even a ruffled curtain.  Whoa — prom night flashback.  He ponders his next move as he looks down these amazing stairs, and the nice new axe buried in a tree stump right beside them.  He decides to wait in the car.

Luckily it is a short wait as Joseph shows up and and tells him he likes his face and gives him a big hug.  They go inside and Joseph describes his health, how he had cancer of the liver which spread to the lungs, how he took chemo, and beat his cancer into remission immediately.  Is this the project?  Not exactly Shoah.

creep03And now he has an inoperable brain tumor the size of a baseball.  Oh . . . sorry about the Shoah crack.

He says he experiences dizziness and cognitive misfirings which I’m thinking is going to come into play anytime now.  Joseph has a wife name Angela and has a child on the way.  He wants to make a video diary for his unborn son just as he saw one time in a movie.

creep05The job is to keep the camera rolling and Joseph says to just following him around, a normal day in the life of his dead dad.  Oddly, he wants the first scene to be in the tub.  If he was that intent on a full day, why not start with taking his morning dump on camera?  He indeed gets naked and in the tub, pantomimes playing with his baby boy (not a euphemism).

Then he dances around for his unborn son in a wolf mask named Peach-Fuzz.  They put on some wacky hats go on the road.  They are heading for a lake that supposedly has healing powers.  And maybe more opportunity for nakedness.  They park the car and head into the woods.  Not being loaded up with camera equipment, Joseph is able to dart into the woods.  Aaron goes looking for him, and Joseph pops out from behind a rock, throwing a scare into him.  Joseph says after the shock faded, there was a couple of seconds where Aaron looked like he wanted to kill him.

creep07Aaron is a little worried that they won’t be able to find their way home. Then Joseph spots the healing waters — a small rapid / waterfall and a pit of water shaped like a heart. Absolutely nothing comes of this or the idea of being lost as they are wolfing down pancakes in a diner seconds later.

At nightfall, Aaron feels he’s earned his $1,000 but Joseph insists they have a whiskey to celebrate their “merry day.”  Joseph also wants to relate a story, off-camera, of bestiality and the wacky time he broke into his own house and raped his wife disguised in the Peach-Fuzz mask.  Aaron’s key’s go missing and he tries to search Joseph while he is sleeping.  Unfortunately, Joseph’s phone rings and Aaron answers it.  Angela — who says she is really his sister — advises him to leave the house immediately.  OK, so now that raping-his-wife story is creepy.

The film takes an unexpected turn structurally.  Up to this point, the scares were jump scares — literally — Josef jumping into view and scaring Aaron.  But there was more curiosity than suspense in trying to figure out just what was happening.  But Aaron makes it home and receives several strange objects, in the mail, on his doorstep, on his windowsill.

Now, what could happen on a beautiful day like this?

There are a few minutes of genuine creepiness and suspense, then it goes back to more of a curiosity.  In the end, though — especially at the end — it came together for me, but can see how others would hate it.


  • The movie refered to is My Life with Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman.
  • So Joseph’s Internet was slow because the “History was full”?
  • Aaron calls the police but has no evidence he can offer — no last name, no address, guess he ditched the phone.  Too bad he didn’t have anything.  Except the picture Josef sent him, and hours of video, which he didn’t think to mention to the police.