Carrot-top “Red” Buckley is in bed playing with himself — er, playing both sides of a chess board as he studies a strategy book. His brother Charlie enters with info about a Black Pearl that they plan to steal. Red was supposed to procure a boat, but has screwed that up. Charlie berates him for being stupid and knocks over the chessboard. Quite reasonably, Red shoots him.
That night in a bar, Red sees Duval, the owner of the Black Pearl, and his hot babe Kathrine who is clearly in it for the money. Red asks about a job running Duval’s plantation, and gets the gig.
They go to Duval’s plantation. It is a sprawling place verdant with thousands of acres of sugar cane, coffee and other vegetation, endless perfectly aligned rows of fruit trees, all inter-cut beautifully with natural fresh water irrigation. Of course, I am just extrapolating based on the checkered tile porch of the main house, which is all we see.
We do, however, hear the gunfire from rebels fighting the army in the surrounding hills. Something like that has got to hurt property values.
On the way through the jungle as Peligre takes Red to his quarters, he asks about Duval’s limp walk and veiny hands. She explains that he has schistosomiasis, a disease best known from an episode of M*A*S*H and for not being in spell-check. She describes it as “water worms” which is probably close enough to the truth. She also explains the island’s fascination with his red hair which symbolizes life.
They arrive at his quarters which he accurately describes as not being the Ritz. He is shocked to see a bloody ram’s head ensconced on the wall. They missed a good chance at a callback here to his bloody brother thrown against the wall from Red’s gunshot.
Red goes back to the main house where he sees the Black Pearl in a display case. Duval catches him drooling over it, and warns him not to get too close — just so he doesn’t set off the alarm system. Naturally, after Duval goes to bed, Red bangs his wife.
Immediately after the festivities, he unsubtly asks, “Do you know how to turn off Duval’s security system?” To her credit, she replies, “You’re not very subtle are you?”
The Black Pearl is missing from its display case. Red confronts Duval to take it, but Duval swears he “can’t lay my hands on it”. Having become a master tactician from all those years of studying chess which is so applicable to real-life, Red shoots him — but must walk two steps ahead and one to the left for his move. Searching Duval, he is surprised to find balloons. Then he realizes that Duval swallowed the Black Pearl even though it was about the size of a golf ball. Red did him a favor shooting him before it re-emerged naturally.
Red slices open this fat bastard and digs the Black Pearl out of his huge waterworm-filled gut. Kathrine, also apparently a chess fan, pulls a gun on him. Red is saved as Peligre stabs a voodoo doll of Kathrine, killing her.
Peligre helps him escape, but they end up in her village. She tells Red, “If I had red hair like yours, I would have respect.” Clearly being a checkers-player, she lops his head off with a machete.
I don’t know if Whoopi Goldberg is a great actress, but she is a great character, stealing every scene she is in. Dexter’s ghost-dad is good as Red and John Rhys-Davies is pretty much himself, although I never once thought of Sallah or Gimli.
Strangely, I fell asleep three times and had to restart the episode, but it’s not bad at all. It does suffer a little from a lack of irony or closure. Even though Red’s hair is referenced a number of times, it still doesn’t adequately set up the lopping off of said red head, or give us any idea what Whoopi is going to do with it. There is a good shot of her carrying it off Bill Parker style, though.
- In the Crypt-keeper’s closing closing sketch, which is normally reserved for ruining an episode, he is a neck-tied talk-show host with Whoopi Goldberg as a guest. If nothing else, it prepared Whoppi for years with Barbara Walters on The View.
- The chess-playing, even studying a book on it, seemed out of place. This guy was clearly no grandmaster thinker, and it played no part in the story.
- Directed by Tobe Hooper who, fairly or not, will always be remembered as the guy who directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre and almost directed Poltergeist.
- But mostly as the guy who put Mathilda May in Lifeforce.