Tales from the Crypt – Till Death Do We Part (12/08/93)

tftctilldeath08A black stretch limo drives into the forest.  Frank Stallone lets Kate Vernon and Robert Picardo out of the car.  This is years before Kate could have mocked Picardo for being on Star Trek Voyager while she was on the superior Battlestar Gallactica. Although both probably got a laugh out of Frank.[1]

To be honest, the story kind of bores me.  Also, I’m slumming with some Jack Daniels after recently drinking single malt and Gentleman Jack.  Combine that with the fact that this is the last episode of the season, and that I might not continue with TFTC due to it’s poor reputation in the last two seasons, and I’m calling an audible.[2]

Kate Vernon was downright MILFy in Battlestar Gallactica.  Here, she is merely insanely hot.  While she has had a great career, but I’m baffled why she isn’t a superstar.  C’mon, the Academy couldn’t find room for one more white chick?  It might be the liquor typing, but this is bullshit.  Let’s just close out the season with pictures of Kate Vernon . . .

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Oh, I’m sorry — we could have accepted Till Death Do Us Part or Till Death Us Do Part.  Not funny or ironic, but at least coherent.
  • [1] Frank Stallone gets the last laugh . . . four platinum albums, ten gold, and a slew of TV episodes to his credit.
  • [2] I hope that makes sense.  I find football even less interesting than this episode.
  • Kate Vernon is the daughter of Dean Wormer.

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Tales from the Crypt – Half-Way Horrible (12/01/93)

I only have a vague idea how TV works.  Actually, I have no idea how TV works.  I have a vague idea how TV production works, just based on assumptions and logic.  Surely, in the list of producers there is someone who does more than collect a check, someone who oversees the entire series — which seems critical for an anthology series.  That’s why it baffles me how TFTC can have such wild swings in tone.

The episode (after the odious Cryptkeeper) has a deadly somber opening, fittingly in a morgue.  No score or ambient sounds at all, just footsteps, a drawer being opened and a couple of guys talking.  The detective tells Clancy Brown that Dan King, the founder of his company, took 40 CCs of Exthion-B in the neck.  Exthion-B is a new preservative that big pharma is working on.  The detective says the stiff’s head won’t rot for 100 years.  In his pocket is a note, not in his handwriting, saying “I have not forgotten or forgiven.”

When asked if he has any enemies, Brown flashes back to six years earlier in the Amazon.  Things get a little livelier as we at least get some jungle sounds.  There is also a drum-beat in the background, though sadly not synced with the guys seen playing drums on-screen.  Brown pours their new experimental drug down the gullet of
an old savage man and seals him up in a crate.  He should be grateful, in a few years, people will be paying $tftchalfhorrible3750 a day to get that drug.

Back in the present, Brown arrives home to find the same “I have not forgotten or forgiven” spray-painted on his wall.  There is also a voodoo doll which has a red-devilish left side and a republican right side (well, blue suit and red tie, anyway).  So, really 100% evil in Hollywood terms.

The same detective comes over and again asks Brown if he has any enemies.  More reliable than LSD, this again induces a flashback.  While down in the Amazon, in order to secure the secret Exthion-B herb, he had to offer his employee Alex as a sacrifice to the natives.  Brown pours the drug down Alex’s gullet and buries him in a crate also.

Back in civilization, Clancy is being interviewed by original MTV VJ, the amazingly 80’s-coiffed Mark Goodman.  Clancy shows him some apples that were treated with Exthion-B 2 years ago and are still fresh and crispy.  Wood used in your home will never rot, your clothes will never fade.

tftchalfhorrible5Unfortunately, his assistant Colin tells him the FDA is holding up their approval of Exthion-B.  He also suggests that Brown check on his associate Kevin because if another employee ends up dead, it could hurt the business.  Brown goes to Kevin’s apartment and finds him dead with a syringe of Exthion-B still plunged in his neck.  And the same note pinned to his shirt.

Sadly, not even Exthion-B can preserve the style of the Members Only jacket Brown is wearing in this scene.

Brown goes back to the office and kills Colin.  Alex gives him a slow-clap.  Brown is stunned as Alex has been dead for 6 years.  He shows Brown that the hand-writing on the notes is the same as his own; but Brown doesn’t seem to remember writing the notes.  He decapitates zombie Alex.

So let me get this straight . . . Brown has been killing his co-workers and leaving a note that says “I have not forgotten or forgiven”?  OK, Brown is the one who murdered the old native and Alex, so what does that even mean?  Wait, you say, this is his evil side talking.  No, his evil side would be OK with the murders to make a profitable drug — this would have to be his good half talking.  But why would the good half commit murder?

tftchalfhorrible9The next day, Brown’s doctor recognizes the doll as a voodoo god that maintains the balance between mans good and evil halves. Desperate, Brown offers the doctor the profits from Exthion-B to remove his evil half.

The next day, we see Brown only in profile as he orders a syringe of Exthion-B to be brought to him. When he gets the syringe, he tells his secretary that he has beat the curse that Alex put on him. The doctor destroyed his evil half, the half the curse feeds on, so it became null and void.  His secretary turns on the light revealing Brown to be half-normal and half dead.  Brown lifts the syringe to his neck.

Really, I could not be less interested.  The flatness of the episode is mind-numbing.  No score except some occasional drums, obnoxiously 1980’s “style”, Clancy Brown in a suit, just nothing seems to work.

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Nah, too easy.  At least the “half” makes sense, but they botched the pun as usual.  Maybe something like “Not Half-Horrible” would have worked better as it plays off the established phrase “not half-bad.”  Except that he was half-way horrible.
  • Another first time and only time director.
  • Kudos on the art direction in the episode.  Whether they were authentic or not, the objets d’art were fabulous.  Also the curare d’art

Tales From the Crypt – Oil’s Well that Ends Well (11/24/93)

tftcoilsell02Jerry and Gina are in the graveyard. Jerry is digging one of those TV graveholes that any sap can dig by hand with an ordinary shovel in 45 minutes.  The perfectly squared-off corners are a nice touch.  It’s nice to see people taking pride in their work again.

There is a noise from the coffin at the bottom of the hole, and their partner in crime makes a memorable entrance.  Through some scheme, he was buried with $20,000 and the others were in on the plan to rescue him.  Although, I gotta say, it would take a hell of a lot more than $20k to let them bury me; I’m not sure I want to go that route even after I’m dead.  He talks a little too trashy to Gina and Jerry shoots him.  He falls back in the hole, into the coffin, and the lid slams shut — the man knows how to make an exit, too.

tftcoilsell04Some time later, Gina walks into a bar in a snappy business suit and immediately starts making friends by grabbing gonads, throwing a man to the ground, making an awesome joke to a guy with a colostomy bag, and buying rounds for the house; but mostly that last thing.

She let’s them know she’s fed up with all men. Especially her bosses in the oil business. Jerry enters the bar and spills the beans about an oil discovery.  She offers him $5k to sit on the info for a week until they can talk to the landowners.  He wisely says losing his job is not worth $5k.  The rubes in the bar chip in to bring the total to $25k.  Now there’s a figure that would set a dude for life!  Just one problem — the oil is under the graveyard.

The next day, the rubes show up with their stake.  There is a problem though in that they need to buy all the land surrounding the oil.  This time it is them telling Gina that they need an additional $74k stake from her.  Showing she is no smarter than the boys, she puts up the money.

tftcoilsell06Jerry ends up being in cahoots with the rubes.  But there is real oil under the graveyard.  Once Gina finds out she’s been hustled, she lights it up!

Not a lot to cover here, but I did enjoyed the episode.  There was nothing supernatural, no one back from the dead (not even the guy emerging from the coffin), no blood and guts. But Lou Diamond Philips and Priscilla Presley really sold their parts.  I came away thinking that both of them have been under-utilized by Hollywood. The rubes were not all uber-that-guys but were certainly solid mid-level that-guys including Cameron from Ferris Bueller, the captain from Lethal Weapon, and Rory Calhoun in his last IMDb credit.

And for some reason, it seem exceptionally well-staged to me.  Maybe it was because there were was a real outdoor scene at the cemetery.  Both there and in the bar, the ensemble was handled expertly and the shots were well-composed.

I give it a 10W30 even though I have no idea what that means.

tftcoilsell08Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis: One of their best.
  • Kudos on the shot of the crude oil bubbling in the ground reflecting the men peering down at it, then dissolving to bourbon being poured into a glass.
  • Also kudos on the explosion — great stuff.

Tales From the Crypt – Came the Dawn (11/17/93)

tftccamedawn02The episode begins with a prolonged close-up of a nameless smoking hot blonde (interrupted by a pan to her rack).  Blonde, sophisticated, well-dressed and well-coiffed with a mischievous wink.  Then we see her in the shitter.

But that’s OK too, as she is using the alone-time to practice her “o-sounds” for later that night.  Someone enters the restroom and cuts off the light. When the blonde complains, the stall door flies open and she is attacked with an axe.

Roger is driving home and stops to help a woman whose pickup has broken down.  Because a) it is raining, b) the buses have stopped running for the night, c) Roger owns a nearby cabin, d) his marriage is on the rocks, and e) the stranded motorist is Brooke Shields, he offers his cabin to her. But mostly “e”.

tftccamedawn10Tipping his hand a little, Roger stops off at a small store in the mountains to buy some oysters.  This doesn’t strike me as a place that would have fresh seafood, so maybe he is going for mountain oysters.  Maybe they do stock oysters, because this log cabin of a store also carries Cristal Champagne.  The clerk — the always fun Michael J. Pollard — catches Roger up on the local news — a stolen truck and a woman hacked to bits in a restaurant.

At the cabin, Brooke puts on some fancy clothes.  Downstairs, Roger says he wants to put something on her that belonged the Catherine the Great.  I was thinking a saddle, but the kinky stuff comes later.  It is a necklace.

Over dinner, he asks her why she stole the truck.  She says she stole the truck to come looking for her cheating husband and that she “took care of” the bimbo.  Seconds later, Brooke is tying Roger’s wrists to the bedposts.  Darn the luck, his wife shows up before he can do any rogering, so he hustles Brook out onto the balcony.

tftccamedawn14The ending is a nice couple of twists and backed by soaring opera that gets crazier and the story gets crazier.  It is all over-the-top good fun as TFTC should be.  There is a minor quibble with some logistics involving the door, but why dwell on that?

Michael J. Pollard really has nothing to do, but just showing up makes the episode more fun.  Perry King starts off solid and ends up great.  And Brooke Shields has always been misunderestimated — she’s just great here as the flannel-wearing thief.

This is a good one.

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Good episode, but another pathetic title — unless the girl practicing her orgasms in the restaurant bathroom was named Dawn.

Tales from the Crypt – Creep Course (10/11/93)

tftccreepcourse02Jeffrey Jones is teaching an Egyptology class in which Anthony Michael Hall is enrolled; sadly for Jones, this is several years after Hall’s John Hughes phase.

Today, Jones is discussing Pharaoh Ramseth aka “the mummy who wouldn’t die.”  Seems he was obsessed with a maiden named Nefra.  Sadly, he croaked before he could act on his desires so the moniker is not technically accurate.  And, being Pharaoh, what was holding him up? Couldn’t he have any maiden he wanted?  Or goat?  What happened to jus primae noctis?  He emerges from his tomb on each anniversary of this death to search for Nefra.  Rigor mortis is nature’s Viagra.

tftccreepcourse04To protect themselves, each year the locals delivered to Ramseth’s tomb a human sacrifice.  When Ramseth was disappointed that each year’s offering was not Nefra, he would go berserk and kill each girl. Ya know, Nefra really could have taken one for the team and volunteered.  Bitch.

Fascinating as this story is, student Anthony Michael Hall is more interested in his football playbook.  Nerdy-girl Casey Siemaszko is also distracted — by Hall.  As Hall has been sentenced to a purgatory, doomed to play each role in The Breakfast Club forever [1], he is now “the jock.”  As such, he is a bonehead and seeks out Nina to tutor him.

She is thrilled at the attention and meets him in the library.  Perhaps inspired by being in a building he had never visited before, Hall comes up with an alternative to studying.  He tells Nina to ask Jones if she can visit his collection of Egyptian artifacts.  While she is distracting Jones, Hall will make a copy of the mid-term exam.  He backs her up against the card catalog and gets her decimal system all dewy, removes her glasses and asks her to go to a party.  So she is putty in his hands — silly, silly putty.

tftccreepcourse08She arrives at Jones’ homes and he leads her down to the basement, which might have actually been scary if she were a young boy.  He shows off a full burial tomb.  By shows off, I mean tosses her inside and closes the door.  Turns out Hall and Jones are in cahoots. When the door is shut, Jones blows the shofar when he could have gotten away with just tipping him $5.00 for the ride. This awakens a mummy inside.

Jones didn’t mention he had ol’ Ramseth stored in his basement.  Suspiciously, he didn’t mention if there was anyone in his crawlspace either.  Nina is a smarty, though, as evidenced by her glasses.  When Ramseth tries to strangle her, she grabs a head-dress and pretends to be Nefra, his blonde, spectacled, pasty white, English-speaking Egyptian crush.

Jones pours Hall a snifter of brandy having no more regard for 21 year old age limits than for 18 year old age limits.  Hall decides to change the terms of their deal, but wisely, Jones had drugged his snifter.  In the basement, he stuffs Hall into a sarcophagus.  As he mops his brow, he hears the tomb’s door open, and we get the classic Jeffrey Jones / Ed Rooney “oh shit” stare which is always hilarious, unless it is through a camera viewfinder.

He enters the tomb and sees Ramseth standing erect, heh heh. Possibly because Nina has donned a suit similar to Princess Leia’s golden slave bikini.  Ramseth gets jealous of Jones and begins choking him, then pulls his brains out through his nose.

The ending is a complete botch. Nina is arrested for her class project which involves the mummified Jones and Hall.  First, this is a smart chick, why would she implicate herself in the murders?  Second, the two stiffs are unrecognizable despite being unwrapped, due to their contorted faces, but who else would they be?  Neither one appears to have a mustache as Jones had.

And a little sign says that Stella got an A+.  Well, she was the nerdy-girl, an A+ is probably routine for her.  But since Jones is dead, who assigned the grade?

Jones is always a hoot, and I’m a sucker for a good mummy story (which, ironically, the original The Mummy was not).  I was also entranced by Nina Siemaszko.  She played a great nerdy girl and consistently lit up the screen.  I’m not usually a fan of the cleft chin, and have really learned to hate them after watching Henry Rollins.  But she made it work.

tftccreepcourse15Post-Post:

  • [1] Tragically, I am not familiar enough with Mr. Hall’s oeuvre to know if this is true, but I liked the idea.
  • Title Analysis:  Junk.  OK, there is a college course involved, but what the hell is “creep course”?  That is not a common phrase or even close to any I can think of.
  • Jeffrey Jones and Anthony Michael Hall were both in Edward Scissorhands.  If Winona Ryder were here, they would have a hat-trick.  But I’d keep an eye on the hat.
  • The only directing credit by Jeffrey Boam.  Sadly, he only lived to be 53 but in a five year span, he managed to write 2 Lethal Weapons, an Indiana Jones, the Witches of Eastwick, The Lost Boys, Funny Farm, and Innerspace.
  • A few years earlier, he wrote the screenplay for The Dead Zone.  Hall would later star in a series based on the same book.