Tales From the Crypt – The Reluctant Vampire (S3E7)

Image 002Minor gripe: The cover art that introduces the episodes usually has pretty good cartoon likenesses of the actors (although Whoopi Goldberg did look like she should have been a character on the Simpsons).  This time, though, I am not seeing Malcolm McDowell or George Wendt in this drawing at all.

Which is ironic because the two best known genre actors in this episode are not quite themselves. Hint:  Cheers is not a genre.
An alarm clock rings and titular reluctant vampire Malcolm McDowell arises from his Murphy Coffin (which flips back up into the wall to save space).  We don’t get a good look at him until he is startled by the mention of vampire hunter Van Helsing on the Today Show (or some equivalent unwatchable a.m. trash).  Despite the many ways McDowell has been made-up in his long career, his wig here renders him almost unidentifiable.
He goes to his job as a security guard at the blood bank.  George Wendt, on the other hand, is recognizable despite not having a bar-stool attached to his ass.  Not exactly known for his range as an actor, Wendt falls back on his Mr. Kreitzer alter-ego from one episode of Cheers.  He is chewing out lovely Sally for the mysterious low levels of blood in the bank.  
McDowell defends her from Wendt’s tirade and — ewww — awkward advance.  Sally finds his gallantry sexy.  When she tells that to McDowell, he experiences a new phenomena in vampirism — apparently it is his fangs that grow when he is aroused, which he ashamedly hides from Sally.
tftcreluctantvampire15After she leaves, he is filled with self-loathing for about 2 seconds, then raids the vault for fresh blood.  On the prowl that night, he just can’t bring himself to attack an old lady, but is OK with attacking a mugger that holds her up.  He Heimlichs  the mugger dry to replace the blood he stole the night before.  Although wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler to go directly to the mugger for his fix, and not drink the blood at the bank?
The next day, Van Helsing arrives at the police station to offer his assistance on the murder of the exsanguinated (vocabulary credit to The X-Files) man.  He is played by Michael Berryman who is partially disguised by wearing a hat over that iconic bald head made famous in The Hills Have Eyes and many other joints.
To save the blood bank from bankruptcy, McDowell goes on a vigilante spree.  He procures 500 pints and saves the bank.
tftcreluctantvampire18Coming home that night, Wendt is waiting for him with a gun.  He has figured out that McDowell came up with the blood and plans to blackmail him for more.  McDowell is able to bonk him on the head with the Murphy Coffin, and stuff him into it.
The detective and Van Helsing bust in the house and Van Helsing stakes Wendt.  This turns Sally on so much, she asks McDowell to make her a “creature of the darkness.”
Although George Wendt is incapable of playing anyone but Norm Peterson, the rest of the cast makes the episode.  Horror icons McDowell and Berryman are their dependable selves despite the skull-coverings.  The detective is played by late uber That Guy Paul Gleason (Die Hard, Breakfast Club, Trading Places, etc).  I don’t know much about Sally, but she works regularly and was OK here.


  • Sandra Dickinson played Trillian in the BBC production of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • McDowell’s character is named Donald Longtooth.
  • In the opening shot, McDowell puts in false teeth.  The false teeth don’t have fangs, and false teeth could not cover up or shorten fangs — so what are they for?
  • Director Elliot Silverstein has a ton of credits including four Twilight Zones, Cat Ballou, A Man Called Horse and the classic 1970’s cheapo classic The Car.
  • The last of three episode scripted by Terry Black, and probably the best.  Kudos for the highlarious questioning of McDowell’s victims.

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