Tales From the Crypt – Showdown (08/01/92)

tftcswhowdown05Outlaws Harley and Quintaine are pursued by a posse. They think they lost them 3 days back, but Harley is in pretty bad shape from a gunshot wound.  When he can no longer stay on his horse, Quintaine shoots him. The not-so-lost posse finds Harley’s fresh grave — which Quintaine idiotically marked; and with his partner’s initials — and continue their hunt.

Quintaine rides into a small frontier town, leading Harley’s horse.  Somehow, the posse has beaten him to the town and Texas Ranger McMurdo is waiting for him.

With no discussion, they walk out into the wide, dusty street and have a duel, which is not the way I remember the Texas Rangers operating; not even when George Bush owned them.  McMurdo takes a slug seemingly directly in the heart with trademark Peckinpaw-ish projectile bleeding, but stays standing,  The 2nd bullet takes him down.

tftcswhowdown02He goes into the saloon for a whiskey.  A stranger tries to sell him a miracle elixir, but Quintaine is quite the negotiator.  Refusing to buy, the medicine man gives him a bottle for free and says he will pay Quintaine a dollar tomorrow if it doesn’t live up to his hype. He takes the bottle and chugs it.

The “snake oil” is fast acting as Quintaine hallucinates that he sees Doc Holliday, a bounty hunter that Quintaine killed.  Maybe there was more than one gunfighting dentist by that name in the old west — the Doc Holliday most people know died of TB (see Val Kilmer wheezing in Tombstone).

tftcswhowdown03He begins to see other of his victims in the saloon.  Among the dead . . . Harley, Frank Little Bear, and Tom McMurdo, still, freshly dead in the street.

McMurdo tells him they are all in Hell. Quintaine screams like a little girl for them to all go way.  When he raises his head, the dead men are gone.  In their place is a gaggle of tourists being shown the saloon which has “it’s very own ghost, the legendary Billy Quintaine” according to the guide who surely regrets dropping out of high school now.

The tour guide relates the story that McMurdo’s posse cut down Quintaine after McMurdo was shot in a duel.  It might have been helpful for the posse to have been a little more pro-active.

Outside the saloon, Quintaine see a modern scene — a hot-dog cart, people on bikes, kids running around. I assume with a bigger budget this would have been a commentary on consumerism, capitalism, or fat American tourists in shorts.  He goes back inside and calls for Tom, but no one appears.

tftcswhowdown04What follows is not clear.  It is either a flashback to what actually happened after the duel, or Quintaine is getting a second chance.  We did not see the first iteration, but this time he is clearly aware there are other shooters, and he impressively kills several of them before finally being shot down.

Also not clear:  We see some modern tourists gawking at the grave markers of McMurdo and Quintaine.  After they leave, McMurdo and Quintaine ride up on horseback to see their own graves.  They are chummy and in pretty good spirits for a couple of guys in Hell. Also they are part of a bunch that all have horses and the freedom to ride off wherever they want to.  Is this Hell or a Dude Ranch?  The guys in City Slickers weren’t this chipper.

And where exactly are they riding to?  Back into the past to pick up the next gun-fighter who is killed?  Does the group just get bigger and bigger?  Does anyone ever actually go to Hell?  On the plus side — probably many houses of ill-repute in Hell. [1]

Great episode as far as performances and directing, but a little muddled on the story.


  • Title Analysis:  Meh.
  • McMurdo says, “Heaven or Hell, whatever you want to call it. It’s warm here; it’s quiet.” Another man says, “We’re all here — those who lived by the gun and died by the gun.” So the murderers and and lawmen and even the innocent trot-by shooting victim are in the same place simply because their deaths were gun-centric?
  • And don’t get me started on why it took the posse 3 days to catch them.
  • Written by Frank Darabont, so I’m sure I’m missing something.  Unless they ejected him half-way through like on The Walking Dead.  Darabont should have come back from the dead like McMurdo and collected the dumb-asses who stuck the Walking Dead group at that farm for a whole season.
  • [1] I’m fairly libertarian myself, so would not consign the houses of ill-repute to Hell; or would at least locate them conveniently near the entrance.

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