Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tales From the Crypt: Season Two, Part Two

The Sacrifice: This episode is almost a remake of the film noir classic Double Indemnity, although with a few lurid twists. In this incarnation, the insurance salesman is played by Kevin Kilner and Kim Delaney is the femme fatale who would like her obnoxious husband (Don Hood) to have a sudden “accident.” The lack of supernatural elements signals that this episode is adapted from an issue of the excellent Shock SuspenStories, and yet it winds up being dull and predictable. I can’t help but think they’re picking the wrong issues. C

For Cryin’ Out Loud: The Cryptkeeper, decked out in hair metal attire, introduces this humorous episode about a sleazy rock promoter (Lee Arenberg, who you may remember from “Seinfeld” as the guy who had his thumbs broken by Jerry) about to skip town with embezzled charity funds until he’s confronted by a bank teller (Katey Segal) who had been keeping an eye on him. All the while, he’s tormented by a voice in his head claiming to be his conscience (Sam Kinison). It’s set during an Iggy Pop concert, featuring the real Iggy Pop who’s on hand to drop a lot of F-bombs. Really clever writing makes this episode good fun. B+

Four-Sided Triangle: Patricia Arquette plays a young farmhand who suffers a head injury and then falls in love with a scarecrow. Her abusive employers write her off as just nuts, but does the scarecrow really come alive? I won’t spoil it, but it probably doesn’t play out the way you think it does. It’s a strange little episode, but the over the top performances of Chelcie Ross and Susan Blommaert as the despicable rednecks who run the farm make it pretty fun. B-

The Ventriloquist’s Dummy: This one is packed to the brim with talent. Richard Donner is back in the director’s chair with a script by Frank Darabont of The Shawshank Redemption. The legendary comedian Don Rickles plays a ventriloquist who takes on a hopeless protégé (Bobcat Goldwaithe). It’s so involving that you forget that the supernatural element is coming…but if you think you can guess the twist, you’re probably wrong. It culminates in a spectacularly gory finale worthy of vintage Peter Jackson. Great stuff. A

Judy, You’re Not Yourself Today: Carol Kane plays a rich vain housewife who unwillingly switches bodies with an old witch disguised as a saleswoman (Frances Bay). Her pompous gun nut husband (Brian Kerwin) finds a clever way to switch them back, but that’s not the end of the story. This is a lively episode with fantastic music and an absolutely brutal takedown of gun culture in America. This is the second time the series has given the NRA a tough broadside, could be an interesting pattern. A-

Fitting Punishment: Moses Gunn plays a crooked, cheapskate mortician who becomes the legal guardian of his nephew (Jon Clair). Having another person to deal with interrupts his finicky lifestyle to a dangerous extent. Gunn is so good as this evil bastard that you just can’t wait to see him get his comeuppance. That anticipation drives what would otherwise be a slow episode. The spooky finale is worth the wait, however, as director Jack Sholder (The Hidden) showcases some great images, including a shout-out to The Changeling. B+

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