Tales from the Crypt – Mute Witness to Murder (S2E15)

tftcmutewitness03Suzy and Paul are celebrating their anniversary with friends in their penthouse apartment.  Their guests must not have read the anniversary invitation because they are dressed in Halloween costumes — a viking, a convict; even Suzy has little bunny ears.  Paul’s suspenders are not wide enough to be Gordon Gecko and he’s not wearing glasses, so he’s not Larry King.

After the guests leave, Paul goes inside to get Suzy’s present.  She notices their neighbors come home and their terrace has a perfect view into their apartment.  After short argument, the man picks up a lamp and really nails his wife.  The motion and sound are brutal.

Amazingly she gets back up and continues running her yap.  Then he rips out the curtain cord and strangles her.

tftcmutewitness04Suzy witnesses this, but is unable to tell Paul as the trauma has left her with hysterical muteness.  And maybe also hysterical writer’s cramp as she doesn’t bother to just jot down that a woman was just murdered.

Paul runs out to get a doctor, which turns out to be the murderous neighbor (Richard Thomas, last seen in The Outer Limits).  Sadly, the director totally botches the reveal of Thomas as the doctor.

Only when Paul tells him that this happened on the terrace does he realize that Suzy witnessed the murder.  When she tries to attack the doctor, he shoots her with a gigantic syringe, and takes her to the sanitarium that he runs.

tftcmutewitness13He installs her in a straitjacket and checks her into a padded room.  The doctor has his own medical problem, a heart condition which requires medication in times of stress.  Murdering your wife is not enough to bring it on, but being witnessed murdering your wife can set it off.

On Paul’s next visit, Suzy is in her straitjacket, and strapped to a gurney in her padded cell.  Despite this, she is able to communicate with Paul as he tries to guess what happened on the terrace.  When he guesses she saw the doctor do something bad, he gets a syringe in the neck from the doctor.  As Suzy watches helplessly, the doctor breaks her husband’s neck.

When the doctor enters her room to prepare her for a lobotomy, she attacks him, trying to gouge out his eyes.  He regains control and begins choking her, but he starts having the problem with his heart.  He begs Suzy to call the nurse for his pills, then remembers, “but you can’t speak.”

Seeing a little bit of justice being served, Suzy says, “Oh yes I can,” and let’s him die.

Like the reveal of the doctor, this is played very matter-of-factly.  It is a great twist that she has regained her voice but purposely remains mute in order to let the him die.  The irony could have been emphasized more, especially in a TFTC episode.

Richard Thomas can always be counted on to deliver.  Patricia Clarkson gives a great performance on top of her great offbeat beauty.  The direction — or maybe it is just the set design — stands out with the use of levels and windows.  There are several nicely composed shots, but there are some directorial problems.

As mentioned, the reveals are not handled well.  Also, Richard Thomas’ performance is at a different tone the rest of the cast.  I enjoyed the episode, but it would have been even better had the director followed Thomas’ lead.


Nice composition!


  • The only TV directing credit for Jim Simpson.
  • One of three writing credits for Nancy Doyne.

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