After watching the archaic, completely artless Teenage Zombies, the opening to Tales from the Crypt — simple as it is — is nothing short of electrifying. And, by “opening”, I mean skipping the odious Crypt-Keeper and diving right into the story.
Sure, it has the advantage of color, but it also uses music and just a few establishing shots to set the tone. A big-ass Cadillac driven by a dude in a big-ass cowboy hat, boots hitting the ground, a spin of the roulette wheel, the wheels on a slot machine. None of these are budget-busters or require editing genius, but put the right music — even carefully chosen stock music — underneath them, and it makes the difference between film-making and pointing a camera.
It also helps when the cowboy, Reno Crevice, is played by Lance Henricksen, but then the budget starts taking a hit; although from some of the crap I’ve seen him in, maybe not a big one. He has a drink in the casino, and is warned that Sam Forney (Kevin Tighe) is a guy to look out for. They have tangled before, so Crevice goes directly to challenge him.
Crevice is a little short on funds, so the stakes for the wager are loser must leave town. Crevice rolls a 12, but Forney matches him.
Increasingly agitated, Crevice suggests Russian Roulette. Forney provides a revolver and Crevice loads a single bullet, pronouncing it to be “5 to 1 odds.” They take turns clicking off shots until the final chamber, which misfires.
Henricksen and Tighe are both excellent, playing up the campy roles while retaining the danger. The episode is also very well directed by Walter Hill. And the ending . . . er, it’s very well done. It’s the kind of thing you’ll like if you like that kind of thing. It was too much of a downer for me, but I appreciate its quality.
Lost me at the end, but I still rate this one Aces.
- At 20:12, this has got to be one of the shortest episodes. But God bless them for not padding it out .
- Roy Brocksmith plays a bartender. Following the AHP policy of recycling actors, he was just in the previous episode.
- Seems like Kevin Tighe went from a go-to good guy in his younger years to a go-to bad guy. He is great playing the asshole, though, most recently seen as Anthony Cooper in Lost.
- Not sure what is going on with writer Mae Woods. She only has 3 writing credits on IMDb. All 3 are on Tales from the Crypt, and 2 of the 3 were directed by Walter Hill. She is also list as Hill’s assistant on several of his movies.
- Not to be a spoil-sport, but when you’re playing Russian Roulette with a revolver, can’t you see which chamber the bullet is in, or at least rule out a few of them?