Tales from the Crypt: My Episode Rank
Well, of the first 6 seasons at least. And, a warning- some of the pics might give away the twist at the end. So, potential spoilers. (Oh, and I suppose I'll have to take apart the twists in some of my summaries. Forget the warning; spoilers all over the place.)
#80. "Collection Completed" (S1/E6)
What's Right with It: The sound design and music score are extremely chilling, M. Emmet Walsh is great.
What's Wrong with It: Cruelty to animals on film, even simulated, deeply offends me. Now, if you saw the episode, you might be thinking it's no big deal. There's no real onscreen violence and, yes, seeing just how many animals she gives Jonas to work with makes it absurd that he would have such a vast "collection" (she has a freaking swan for a pet?). It's not taking itself seriously, is it? No. But Audra Lindley sure as hell is. This guy is clearly an asshole for killing the animals but, he's also really torturing her in doing so. This makes him instantly forfeit his right to complain about being treated as less important than the pets. Also- the episode does not treat her fairly. Sometimes she's crazy for the sake of a joke (which I don't have a problem with- the episode had a good thing going with the really cynical observational humor yet paired with wacky music cues), then toward the end she's really on the edge and treated as fairly pathetic. The episode basically is picking on a "little old lady" who is not entirely in her right mind. There's something really wrong with that. Like- messed up in the head, of the people who filmed it. Finally, I would say this is painfully aimless social commentary. I've heard people actually talk like Jonas and their complaints are valid. This thing treats his very real problems like a joke and then gives him the animals to take out his frustrations on. That's at best cowardly, and at worst sick. What if they were in their 20's or 30's and had a baby? It wouldn't be treated as funny and in the end, one of them would kill it by shaking it to death. Animals don't have to be treated better than people, they just need to stop being treated by screenwriters as dirt. The humans don't fare much better here either.
#79. "On a Deadman's Chest" (S4/E3)
What's Right with It: ^ You're lookin' at it.
What's Wrong with It: Other than the fact that the music sucks (my opinion) and the entire story is lousy "excesses of the rock world" cliches (didn't they make several movies about that already, most notably- The Decline of Western Civilization Part II?), this is one seriously fucking sexist episode. I might have mentioned it when I mini-reviewed William Friedkin's The Guardian in the October Halloween 2011 viewing thread but, Friedkin really did have a serious problem with women in the late 80's / early 90's. Whether this is at heart about how you can't trust anyone when "fortune and fame" are involved or not, there is a "bro's bond" thread at the center and Tia Carrere - who almost seems legitimately concerned about Nick the "good" rocker's career and wants to protect him from Danny the bad rocker - is pretty much treated as a one-note harpy. Even after she receives a far more brutal death scene than even most "bad" characters in the series deserves, we have to listen to Danny and Sherrie Rose (who comes back for Season 6's "Only Skin Deep") rant about what a "bitch" she was. What else would they call her? I don't care. I say it's the episode's way of throwing in a dig at any woman, whenever they can. And groupie Sherrie has no character herself. She literally shows up to make things worse for everyone, show her tits, and embody a kind of "whore's hypocrisy." Danny didn't have to betray her for her to run to Nick with "he killed Scarlett, man!" Finally, there's just no awesome in this episode. It does seem to be moralizing instead of being ambiguous and there's nobody to "love to" hate. Sherrie Rose is no Katey Sagal from Season 2's "For Cryin' Out Loud," who was awesome. And Tia Carrere's part here can only be seen as a shame on who she was in Wayne's World. Strong, good hearted, sexy, and purely awesome. They pretty much cast her here because of that film. Which just goes to show how much the guys behind this episode didn't get it. Even in her capacity as the Jeanine Pettibone of this episode, she is grossly misused and underwritten.
#78. "Strung Along" (S4/E12)
What's Right with It: Donald O'Connor. The "twist" didn't suck. And, at first, the marriage between the Joseph and Ellen characters didn't seem insanely unbelievable.
What's Wrong with It: I give all who read this a free pass to throw things at me and tell me "D'UH! That was the point!" But... Patricia Charbonneau is really terrible in this episode. She's not the only one, but what really puts this episode in the painfully bad category is her thoughtless, ridiculous, shrill, and almost completely out-of-nowhere shouting jags. She has every right to be "sick and tired" in her relationship and resent Joseph's jealousy. Which, by the way, also makes it a lot harder to feel bad for him, which is kinda necessary to facilitate the revenge motivation (since I think the final shot suggests that Koko/Coko wasn't really doing the killing at all) at the end. Okay, both of these things are established. Fine. In fact, she has to confront him or else she's a pushover. But watching her scream at what I hope is the top of her lungs, at this man who is so far away from where she is at that moment... No, I think I've really got something here. She is petty as hell. She even starts shouting "how fucking dare you" at Zach Galligan in order to get Joseph involved. What does he do? He shows up like the Sweetest Old Guy in the World, which is why we kinda like him no matter how controlling he is. This is why I have such a big problem with her screaming at him like she does. He doesn't show one minute inclination that he has a louder, angrier side. Tone it down, lady!! Worse still, she's giving the head banger's equivalent of a one-woman Soap Opera show. Does O'Connor look like the kind of guy who belongs in a soap opera showdown? This is so badly staged and so poorly thought out. And watching it is beyond painful- my face starts looking like an inkblot while it plays through. So, yeah, maybe the point of this was that she was trying to induce a heart attack any way she could. But the importance of this doesn't factor in until the twist. And frankly, she sucks the whole way through. Now, let's talk about Galligan for a second. I've always had a thing for him because (among other things) his bedroom-voice is so intensely seductive. Only... that's the way he always talks. At one point O'Connor says "you're kissing my butt"... that's exactly what it feels like he's doing.
#77. "In the Groove" (S6/E10)
What's Right with It: Wendie Malick. And... Miguel Ferrer in leather pants.
What's Wrong with It: The pants aren't tight enough.
And the twist is godawful! The episode was already pretty bad beforehand (Rhett nailed it thoroughly in his summary) but... this twist is so bad, it makes you think less of the producer's staff of the show. I don't know how closely they were forced to follow the comics but I believe some of the twists in previous episodes changed drastic details- to say nothing of the rest of the plot. Episodes changed things before. Damn it: the mother's ghost should have come back and enacted supernatural revenge. The twist we do get; predictable doesn't even begin to cover it. Take a poll, I'm willing to bet almost every single person watching would come up with what it was in 2 guesses or less. This episode also reminds me of why the producer's shouldn't have cast Crypt with people we like from similar movies or shows. Just because Linda Doucett was great on Larry Sanders didn't mean she'd be great here. And she isn't. Wendie Malick is always great, though.
One last complaint: "Tasty Treats." This episode lost a half-star in its' rating for that line alone.
#76. "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" (S2/E10)
What's Right with It: "You inbred fucking Cabbage Patch kid!"
What's Wrong with It: This show has a lot of nostalgia / period piece episodes. It was inevitable that somewhere along the way, someone would have to stop the train and say: ..."I don't care." Episodes like "Seance" or "Dead Right" took the period piece thing and made their own world out of it. They used the "good old days" attitude the filmmakers' had toward the comics to inject some style and flavor into the 80's-tastic television trends of the time (while the 90's worked on finding an aesthetic voice of its' own). But, I have to draw the line: I don't care about ventriloquism. And there has to be something more to make me care about Bobcat Goldthwait's grown-up kid, Billy. Oh, wait- the episode just uses this as a front so you'll watch him start swearing and swinging a baseball bat around, breaking everything in sight, and go: "that's the guy I like." The one from the Police Academy movies (a reputation Goldthwait later poked fun at on Larry Sanders). Sure, that's the Bobcat I like too. But, neither him nor Don Rickles actually fit into this episode's lame, "sad," and sappy storyline. Washed up comics, tragic backstories, a whodunit murder-mystery subplot, and carnival freakshow rolled into one? Who wants to see that? Well, maybe if it had looked better (another Rhett charge I agree with) or had any bite to it- I could say I do. But this is boring and awful. Hoggle from Labyrinth is both scarier and funnier than mutant Morty.
#75. "Surprise Party" (S6/E11)
What's Right with It: The costumes. The acting is very strong, from everyone. The saxophone dance song that plays during Josie's dialogue is very moody and effective in suggesting dread. It seems stylish and the set design is great as well.
What's Wrong with It: The... Fucking... Twist. You do not have an episode where ghosts take physical form and say things like "it won't bite you- I'm the thing that's gonna do that" and end it with the devious ghoul who says that suddenly looking like a tired pot of crap and light him on fire. You said you were going to BITE him, I want to see that. The episode spent its' time making their antagonist this ultra-arrogant, ultra-snobby bastard and got its' wish that we would want to see him get killed in a horrible way. Fire... is anti-climactic. Oh, sure, it's eye for an eye / burn for a burn. But now, goddamn it, this line doesn't make sense: "I was just praying you weren't going to be some pathetic little creature." You wouldn't see him if he wasn't there to kick you out. It's the same fucking motivation all ghosts use to avenge-haunt their victims in every movie where a specific place is cursed or haunted. Now I'm meant to believe she was saying that line with this meaning instead: "Mmmm, now I know you'll burn real good." He didn't. The burning scene is a joke. Nothing about it is satisfying. It looks stupid and doesn't feel like revenge. I want gore when I'm made to expect gore. I want to see someone devoured when I hear lines like "I'm gonna" "bite you" and 'you're not" "some pathetic little creature." This was more than disappointment- it's a bad twist. And the entire episode hinged on it anyway. Everything that happened was a lead up to it. The rest of the episode doesn't work without it. "We're so glad we spent all this time playing with you for kicks, now we're going to act like our revenge is our quest for eternal pece." No, they were fucking evil. Now they're not? It also doesn't help that the makeup effects suck a lot.
#74. "Carrion Death" (S3/E3)
What's Right with It: Gore.
What's Wrong with It: Does the desert have some magic Confessional power that I'm not aware of? Why the hell are we listening to both these guys talking to themselves? Even when they talk to each other, they're talking to themselves. "I'm gonna take each and every one of those dead presidents outta your hide." Either have the balls to shout it so he can hear you or shut the fuck up. It's an episode about walking through the desert to one's fate or whathaveyou. I can watch this without monologues. In the form of dialogue. Spoken to absolutely no one. And, no, the vulture is not a character. Maybe they intended him to be but I'm not buying it. The episode is also the character's op-ed on women. I'm sorry but: who the fuck cares? It's really a trend of the show, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a half dozen or more "women: can't [fill in the blank], can't [fill in the blank]"s over the course of the whole series. The dialogue and radio announcement telling us this guy is a rape-killer type is all post-production added. So, it's really more about a bank robber who is mauled by a cop acting very much against his training because that's how cops roll. I don't like stereotyping either way, I can watch a movie/show taking down bad cops or showing the struggles of good cops. But, don't expect me to go along with a cop who just wants to be a hero and doesn't care how he catches his criminal. That comes with bullshit baggage all its' own.
#73. "The Sacrifice" (S2/E7)
What's Right with It: The music. Michael Ironside. The opening credits. Looks great.
What's Wrong with It: The acting is pretty bad. I don't know if I would say the actors are the problem. The writing is pretty bad, so it's pretty hard to blame them. Don Hood is definitely miscast as Kim Delaney's pretentious, Nike-chic'd millionaire husband (where were you when they were casting "Strung Along"). Like I'm really going to listen to a guy like this lecture me on "money, pussy, and bullshit." Kevin Kilner is too much of a boy scout to make me believe he'd ever kill anyone for money. It would have been more interesting to see him cast as someone else's trophy husband. And, frankly, Kim Delaney doesn't belong here either. This could be the fault of the writing or pacing. She's a cheap "bitch" for someone who walks away winning the "evil prize" of the episode and yet, even though she gets to say the nastiest thing in the episode (after Kilner asks her what he can do: "same thing you've been doing for the past three months- nothing," like he really has a choice), I feel nothing watching her emerge victorious at the end other than knowing she didn't earn it. The twist is also completely predictable. Rhett mentioned that there just isn't enough time to tell the story and that's what sinks the twist. The lovemaking scene with Kilner and Delaney not only feels far too G-rated because of the hasty pacing but it's also an info-dump scene where he has to fall in love with her in 90 seconds as they plan the murder and she acts very "I know" about his love. If that doesn't tell you she's in it for the money, nothing would (read: you're thick as fuck).
#72. "Food for Thought" (S5/E4)
What's Right with It: Uh... uh... uh... John Laughlin in tanktops.
What's Wrong with It: Repeat viewings reveal it to be...not as bad as it is the first time you see it. But, regardless of how much it may work for the ape's story that Zambini has to kill Johnny to make her revenge palpable, it makes Connie look like a huge idiot for waiting until his death to get her to break Zambini's hold over her. It also makes it seem like she wouldn't have appreciated Johnny but more what he represented: getting off your butt and making your own happy ending. It was just a little too easy for her to walk out on Zambini at that moment. He was equally vulnerable and not willing to stop her whenever he was cooking. Wait a minute- why am I explaining this; did anyone buy this ending anyway? I doubt it. Anyway, this really used to piss me off. Now I see the episode is just boring.
#71. "Well Cooked Hams" (S5/E8)
What's Right with It: Uh... Martin Sheen's accents?
What's Wrong with It: Billy Zane. He must have resented this show and hated the script they gave him, because he is either deliberately sabotaging the episode with his "acting" or he really has absolutely no talent. As he lies dying in his character's final moments, he says "someone, help me!" like someone just stepped on his foot. He shouts "someone let me out" of the box as he's about to be rammed through with swords and have his face rearranged with acid with the urgency of "oh, well this is just great." And the entire episode is like this. Every last scene he's in runs this way. And he's in every scene. Even if this was a great story or it was scary or fascinating, Zane's arrogance would make me want to punch him in the face. And not because he was a dick to his assistants or I liked Sheen's super-magicians. The whole "this here is a motion picture camera" thing was interesting though.
#70. "Operation Friendship" (S6/E4)
All the problems in this episode, in my opinion, are tonal. Titling it "Operation Friendship" is the same as saying "this show's too down-in-the-dumps. Time to perk it up." I assume the original comic had some element of menace. This episode replaces all of that with really bad goofy music cues and... more period piece elements. This time, let's be honest: this is the G-rated version of Season 2's "My Brother's Keeper." A 30-something y/o adult male is tickled by peeping at obese neighbors in their underwear? Maybe calling this a period piece is unfair, but I don't get why Nelson and Eddie are so childish. Children who aren't aware a day has passed since the early 1950's. And Peter Dobson is channeling Robin Williams (dear god WHY?). But, I do think Tate Donovan is highly sympathetic and likable when "Eddie" isn't around. Him and Michelle Burke even have a very good scene going together, at the restaurant, before the episode throws the monkeywrench back into gear. Actually, she's great throughout and... Tate has a great body.
#69. "Only Skin Deep" (S6/E2)
What's Right with It: Sherrie Rose actually delivers a good performance this time. In one scene. William Malone knows how a horror movie should look. The music is excellent.
What's Wrong with It: Linda is an abuse victim. You can tell because she goes up to the guy who beat her alone in a room full of people drinking alcohol who aren't paying attention and is extremely proud to admit "you beat me" over and over ... I'm not certified or anything but I do think a psychologist might think this is not exactly typical behavior for a battered ex-girlfriend recently split from her abuser. Exactly where does she get a "nah nah nyanyanya" attitude from after having been viciously, near-fatally strangled? Methinks Exposition dictated her to act like a jackass. A bad excuse. Fast forward 5 minutes: sex scene. I remember they had sex. Nothing else sticks out in my mind. Fast forward 5 minutes: Carl is full of shit. I quote, "I just wanna enrich an already wonderful thing." Is he aware he's feeding her a line? Because this is extremely bad character development. Sherrie Rose can't emote. And the twist is macabre but entirely meaningless.
#68. "King of the Road" (S4/E9)
What's Right with It: It's well-paced and I thought the acting was excellent from everyone.
What's Wrong with It: After it's half-over, boredom has set in and your mind starts working on what the twist will be. Is Brad Pitt a ghost looking for revenge? Are both racers going to die in a tragic accident? Will one of them accidentally kill the daughter? Will the daughter accidentally kill the father? Will other cops show up and accidentally kill all 3 of them? Will something go wrong with the cars? Will Brad Pitt win the race and be set free by the father? Will the daughter shoot someone with the gun? There is no twist here. None whatsoever. Just the promise of a dramatic showdown race between Brad Pitt and the father, a very undramatic race between them, and a very abrupt end to the race with a surprisingly obvious outcome. Think real simple. This lacks any and all sense of danger and the characters are completely hollow and dull beyond the attractive cast.
#67. "Whirlpool" (S6/E3)
What's Right with It: I actually loved the visual effects and wacky camerawork ("Operation Friendship" might have benefitted from this thinking). Rita Rudner was a better bitch in 30 seconds than Kim Delaney was in 30 minutes. It's only 20 minutes long, so it isn't long enough to make you want to stab yourself in the leg. The music doesn't suck. Oh yeah, and, Rhett: here are your Season 6 Boobs.
What's Wrong with It: Yeah... nothing happens. Put "The Trap" and "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" together - both of which managed to freak me out - and you get this. And... why was that battalion so trigger happy, anyway?
#66. "Lover Come Hack to Me" (S1/E5)
What's Right with It: Save for the insanely detailed and lengthy sex scene and the awful twist, the whole set-up for this episode is fun and up to a point, it always works on me. It's incredibly creepy for well over the first 10 minutes and Amanda Plummer's performance works in spite of how overbearingly antagonistic he is. And he blows up at everything. She should have asked him long before "you don't love me, do you?" And, yet, I bought it. The music is dread filled, the dark stormy night is one hell of a mood-setter, and if I had to spend the night in that house, I'd be terrified to go to sleep. Lots of spooky blue light.
What's Wrong with It: That twist is epically bad- "a love is always better in memory- just kill the man." I'm sure that's why some female species eat their mates. And, I can't emphasize "really" enough- we really didn't need that sex scene. And... Stephen Shellen isn't really "good" at any time during the episode but... he talks to himself here. You know how I feel about that.
#65. "Revenge is the Nuts" (S6/E5)
What's Right with It: Anthony Zerbe is great as the villain. I actually cared about what happened to Teri Polo for once (can't say the same applied to Meet the Parents, even though I like that movie; the first only). And, for some reason, I really wanted to see her and Benny become a couple. He (John Savage) was also very likable.
What's Wrong with It: Are these people trying to make us slit our fucking wrists???!!! Remember when Michelle Johnson talked about death being the greatest cure for boredom in "Split Second"? The music and the visual look of this episode are literally suffocatingly dull. Only, the pain is slow. And lasting. My mind tosses its focus back and forth between how much I think I feel for the characters and how sorry I am for myself. The episode is all gray. I love overcast skies. But, then you get air. You still get fresh air. You get smothered here. It's the ugliest episode of the entire series. I can't tell you how happy I was to see the brown of the wood walls all those razor blades were stuck in... when the hanging lamp swung the light on it. Also... why is this called "Revenge is the Nuts" if it takes place in a home for the blind? We all know nobody in the episode was crazy. So the brother was loaned out from an institution... he still wasn't crazy. He was even more moral about hurting Zerbe than anyone else was.
#64. "Half-way Horrible" (S5/E12)
What's Right with It: Rhett got 'em all.
What's Wrong with It: Rhett got most but I want to drop another bomb- bad special makeup effects. This will come back big when I get to "Death of Some Salesmen," but why does the camera do such huge closeups on dead bodies that look awful (and not in the way they're supposed to)? I'll be more specific later but, I'd rather be grossed out by something that I feel looks realistic or genuinely reminds me of horrifying things that actually happen to people. Being injected with a syrum that preserves your skin and flesh for eternity really makes your face bloat out in huge bubbles? Give me Death Becomes Her, and its' theory that the damage that comes to your body as a result of this is based on how well or badly you take care of yourself, any day. (Isn't one of Clancy Brown's moron friends that Hoffman guy from the Saw sequels?)
#63. "Lower Berth" (S2/E14)
What's Right with It: Stefan Gierasch has some fun moments as the whistling-drunkard. I knew I would freak when Myrna opened her eyes (I did).
What's Wrong with It: Bo-ring.
#62. "Came the Dawn" (S5/E10)
What's Right with It: All in the ideas. Some cool slasher movie elements. Mysterious and beautiful angry woman picked up by suspicious guy with questionable motives, news of a killer circulating, they go to cabin in woods, there's greed involved, a seduction takes place, a love-triangle develops with an unseen 3rd party. Who's the killer? Where / when will they strike next? And which one of our two scummy characters will be the next victim?
What's Wrong with It: All in the execution. The only time you get blood, it looks incredibly fake. Brooke Shields is terrible. The twist really does rip-off Dressed to Kill. Why the hell would any woman laugh at a line as bad as: "the demure way they go to the bathroom with their skirts hiked up around their waists"?!?! Is a man dressed as a woman ever really scary?
#61. "Oil's Well That Ends Well" (S5/E11)
What's Right with It: It's intentionally campy. And, if that's what they wanted, they sure cast this right. Giving Kassir a human role was a good idea, after all- he's not usually terrible. Lou Diamond Phillips can only be described as "tastefully" over the top. Also... thinking about the plot of the episode... did it need to be serious? It's not good, but, how much better did it need to be? I say not much. I can't see this working any better had they aimed for "Deadline" sophistication. The problem is that there's no precedent for this in the series. The closest episodes I can think of are "The Third Pig" (which is far worse) and "Undertaking Palor," which just turns the adults into kids. I don't know why, but this episode really doesn't bother me. Even though I think they sure as hell could do better with the theme of feminism.
What's Wrong with It: Rhett best summed it up with these words- "uncalled for." Much as I don't object to this trying to be campy, what compelled the people in charge of this one to even think of it? Here's the director: "Okay, in this scene... You wiggle." Could have saved a lot of time if someone behind the scenes had said: "how about if we just wiggle here?"
Wow, great stuff. The pictures alone bring back a lot of memories.
My favorite episode is The New Arrival from Season 4.
Also love And All Through The House, Television Terror, House Of Horror, and Mournin' Mess.
I remember enjoying Surprise Party and Comes The Dawn too, but it has been a long time since I've seen the later seasons.
And The Third Pig is... interesting.
Great post! It's close to impossible for me to single out favorites cause there's just so damn many great episodes. Out of all the discs in my collection, the Tales from the Crypt sets by far see the most action. I've been nuts for this show since I first spotted it on HBO. John Kassir, the guy who does the voice for the Cryptkeeper, is going to be a Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ next weekend which should be cool. Now I just have to figure out what the hell I'm going to get signed.
I liked "Comes the Dawn" quite a bit too... of course, that's season 6. The episode from season 5 above is "Came the Dawn." The show pulled a few of these double titles that sound extremely similiar: "Easel Kill Ya" and "This'll Kill Ya," "Only Sin Deep" and "Only Skin Deep," "Til Death" and "Till Death Do We Part," and "Split Second" and "Split Personality."
#60. "The Pit" (S6/E7)
What's Right with It: Direct and to-the-point. The performances are honest and well-suited to the material. The twist is novel and somewhat surprising. Mark Dacascos and Stoney Jackson are extremely good at playing sympathetic characters.
What's Wrong with It: ...I'm not sure this is truly pro-people (let's cut the idea of feminism as women are greater than men crap, and talk about people as equals regardless of gender). It's definitely hip to the women-are-running-things 90's. But it portrays this as bad. Not only are the women running their men into the ground, but they can't get along with each other. Which unwittingly plays them right into the hands of opportunistic scum like Wayne Newton's character, Wink Barnum (the former a game show host, the latter famously associated with circuses). Meanwhile, during the episode's gigantic twist, neither of the women think "there's something fishy about this." They're still too busy being obsessed with each other. Where I come from, we have a code word for this kind of behavior. It involves repressed sexual wants. It's just too strong as-is with little known foundation or justification. Classism? Sounds too convenient. That would almost require one of them to have started it, but the episode doesn't seem to want to go there. Which turns us back to women as inherently ready to pounce any other woman who is successful. There is definitely something powerfully negative being suggested here. Take your pick: they are either so hot to be on top of each other professionally because... well, say that again and replace "professionally" with "personally." Or they are instinctively wired to be the only successful woman in the winner's circle. Either way, the guys are portrayed as the real victims here. That doesn't seem very equal. Plus, without the opportunistic jerk - the real villain - we wouldn't have the "delicious" (disturbing) twist that suggests violence is the only answer. Shouldn't we... kinda be against the opportunistic guy? Without him, the guys wouldn't be in harm's way to begin with. The women might have had to settle their differences with... what are those things again? Words? Sounds fishy to me.
#59. "Staired in Horror" (S6/E9)
What's Right with It: I liked the toxic-looking yellowish-green light beaming all over every frame (it takes place in the South after all and even if they don't need any help to make plantations look creepy- it's not that hard to believe the atmosphere would have a toxic glow about it). The idea is strong and eventually the episode builds into a certain highly effective pitch of freakiness. The ending is legitimately scary. And the makeup effects are pretty darn good.
What's Wrong with It: When R. Lee Ermey is the best actor in a movie or tv show, you know you're in trouble. D.B. Sweeney is absolutely awful. Rachel Ticotin doesn't fare much better. The writing is also a little confusing. I was very skeptical about Kyle MacLachlan being a "girl-killer" in a previous episode, for some reason- I don't see why Sweeney's character would have to be an "old person killer" (this is of course why Ermey and his swat are on his trail in the first place). Much too nail-on-the-head, with the character's extremely harsh words just seeing Ticotin is old and likes the look of him as well as the power the stairs hold. His excuse for the lynch mob is that he slept with the sheriff's daughter. Why couldn't he have done that? And perhaps hurt or killed her too? Either way Sweeney's still the bad guy and we can't really wish for him to get away; why not give him a slightly more realistic - random to him happening upon this Magical Aging plantation home - backstory?
#58. "Beauty Rest" (S4/E5)
What's Right with It: Mimi Rogers. Jennifer Rubin. Sometimes it's very cool and stylish. And, frankly, I'm rabid to see anything in the horror genre that has to do with women social climbing, back-stabbing, and/or any plot involving beauty, vanity, modeling, eating disorders, etc(.) in an industry at least publically dominated by women. (I don't like giving points for an idea but - not only have I done it before, as I think we all have - you know this is why we even bother to watch certain things. Some of us want to see things that are out of the ordinary or original. Even if they don't turn out well.)
What's Wrong with It: Unfortunately, the reason we don't see many horror movies about these subjects is because the filmmakers either don't know anything about them or they don't take them very seriously. This episode is visually too dark. It's very hard to see at times. And it has the most illogical, wasted twist of the entire show. I think I even shouted at the screen. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, it doesn't even have any deep thematic resonance. Except, perhaps, if you consider that Helen was always ugly as a person. But didn't anyone relate to her even a little? I think most people probably do. Is the episode saying we're all ugly when we're not on a slab? It's literally a hard cut from modeling in front of people who're impressed by good skin and gussied up hair to people impressed by hearty organs (some partially damaged by what I'd figure is well over a decade of smoking). So... it's about the way people look at each other? I doubt it. All things considered, it didn't matter which woman won the contest. "Beauty" had nothing to do with who won, it was callous ambition. What does that have to do your organs?
#57. "The Man Who Was Death" (S1/E1)
What's Right with It: I think I can safely say this is one of the best photographed and best looking episodes. It's well cast, well acted, and seems like it really cares about some serious issues.
What's Wrong with It: It also goes and sticks its own foot in its mouth. Niles is so good at his job - "If a man ain't good at his job, then what the hell is he good for?" - that this is all he gives himself the right to talk about. What does he talk about? Everything. Because the episode thinks he's the only one who can. Forget really getting us out in Niles' world by placing more focus on his conversations with others; I guess he really has a low opinion of most people. Half the episode is spent listening to each and every one of his life philosophies. I won't say it turns out as badly as it did in "Carrion Death," but we certainly long-passed the point where I wanted Niles to shut up. Furthermore, the episode could have made their own approach work but not when it feels so trivial and unimportant. "I see the junkies shooting up. I see what women are really like." Yeeaahh, why do we care? The episode couldn't figure out a way to make his observations look like things we should be paying attention to. Niles is a void as a human being and the episode made everything else as substanceless as he is. So, when it was his turn up in the chair, it was like another burger tossed on the grill. Nothing special. Just another burger.
#56. "This'll Kill Ya" (S4/E2)
What's Right with It: Dylan McDermott is so smoldering, he singes the air. Sonia Braga trips over her dialogue a lot but she has an equally amazing screen presence. It's a very sexually mature episode. The scientific details are a good conversation starter, with the characters. Dialogue is a definite selling point here. And... blue. It's a freaking beautiful episode when bathing the screen in some very enveloping color tinters, which is reserved for most of the second half.
What's Wrong with It: Predictability is extremely high. It truly is an incredibly unoriginal episode. Perfect half and half hybrid of "Abra Cadaver" and "Easel Kill Ya." Oh, and... tumors. Yet, I don't think they had any bearing on (calling "Beauty Rest") the deeper meaning of the story. Just maybe this episode was more literal than it needed to be.
#55. "Curiosity Killed" (S4/E14)
What's Right with It: Easily a tour-de-force for Margot Kidder. The cranky old coot dialogue has a heavy probability of grating on most people but I was thoroughly invested thanks to MK. She's extraordinarily compelling, whether showing a tiny shred of vulnerability or being the biggest bitch in the Crypt canon. Bar none? Perhaps. The twist is twofold and part 1 is one of the cruelest, deeply nastiest things a character could do- once you see what she really has done. And the camera doesn't shy away for a second. It's sublimely sadistic, almost as though the makers thought they were filming something that's never been shown before. Which makes a difference here. Whether it's just meant to give the audience everything they signed up for or as a way to pour some sour over the kind of sugary sentiment they borrowed from Steven Spielberg's segment in Twilight Zone: The Movie. I was actually able to look past the rubbery FX thanks to details like Madge Sinclair's far too polite "no, you shouldn't do that!" reaction to Kidder revealing she peppered their youth potion with alcohol or J.A. Preston's unbelievably tragic death cries. "Luuuuu-ciiiiiile..." What do you expect her to say, man- she's as dead as you are.
What's Wrong with It: Part 2 of the twist cheapens out. Who knew the dog was supposed to be as aged as everyone else? This was not made clear by the dialogue. It's just something they cut to, out of the blue. And it entirely deflated my satisfaction with the first part. And that's not the only thing the episode carelessly leaves unexplained. Did Harry kill Emma or not? Jack believes he did and confronts him about it, but Harry changes the subject. In a way that really makes it seem like he did...but had what he considered noble reasons for it. The episode suggests with its' title alone that Cynthia's paranoia is the reason she lost her chance at a 2nd youth. But was she really paranoid about this? It's even more important to know when we're told that Emma was just like Cynthia. And she's dead now.
#54. "Undertaking Palor" (S3/E9)
What's Right with It: Though it features a gang of kids, this sure as hell ain't Goosebumps. That might sound irrelevant now but wait- it'll come back later. There is a lot of gore and gross, disturbing subject matter. Which the kids at first accept in a surprisingly more adult manner than they do the movies they watch. Entertaining death scenes. Even though shot-on-video is now looked at as a fad, it makes much more sense in this context since they know (at least consciously) that VHS isn't actually shooting a movie. It's involving and it did excite me as a kid; not much has changed. John Glover.
What's Wrong with It: The fact that, after awhile, the episode begins linking the way the kids see real violence with the way they watch movies. They see someone dying and because they're all filming it (did they... all get their replica video cameras from Josh?), they begin to cheer and say things like, "this is awesome!" I thought they were trying to right a wrong that really fucked up one of their lives. Should this show of all things be making a condemning statement about desensitization?
Shocking Trivia: Did you guys know that 2 out of these 4 "kids" were actually in their 20's at the time of filming? 3 of them were legally allowed to vote. The oldest - Scott Fults, who played fat "Norm" - will turn 52 this year, making him at least 28 at the time of shooting.
#53. "Showdown" (S4/E8)
What's Right with It: Richard Donner returns as director, and while it's not better than "Dig That Cat...He's Real Gone," it's easily an improvement over "The Ventriloquist's Dummy." I rarely watch westerns and I thought what they did with Billy Quintaine here was good. The acting is very strong. Great atmosphere- it's got a real lazy day feel that shows "Revenge is the Nuts" how to make that attractive. The twist is interesting.
What's Wrong with It: The twist also comes far too early (that could have something to do with this episode and "King of the Road" being pilot episodes for a different anthology series called Two-Fisted Tales which HBO was prepping but never got off the ground- so they threw the stray episodes in the middle of Crypt season 4 and hoped nobody would notice), leading to an ending that goes. On. Forever. And drains the fun out of most of what came before. Then... there's a coda. It nearly acts like its own twist: the gunslinger and the sheriff can now be bestest buddies in the afterlife. Even riding off into the sunset together... uh, that's nice. The twist is: a happy ending.
#52. "Creep Course" (S5/E9)
What's Right with It: Likable characters. Very smartly cast. Clever twists. A very dark coda (even more head-scratching though... the teacher gave her an A+ for what is more of a found object than something she crafted herself- if this were Ghost World, I might be more apt to buy it). And, would ya look at that- the twists actually form a united theme relevant to all the characters: paying attention. It may seem a little ethical/moral, but... those of us who actually did the work while the slugs of life somehow mysteriously continued slithering ahead appreciate a good 10 or so minutes of comeuppance.
What's Wrong with It: Welcome to Goosebumps-land. Except for a little blood trickling down someone's nose, this is as tame as you'll ever see on this show. I don't remember any real language either so... bring the kids.
To the Desk of Rhett: You never met a chubby football player? At least 2 of Slater's friends on Saved by the Bell were pigskinners with a few extra pounds on them (x 10 or so). I know- who turns to SBTB for reality... I can confirm for you this is something they got right. I knew skinny players, chubby players, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes.
#51. "Mute Witness to Murder" (S2/E15)
What's Right with It: Patiently, intelligently paced. Good ideas all around. Relentlessly staticky, smokey-blue. The casting of Johnboy Walton (Richard Thomas) as a killer was risky. It's at times hard to separate his wholesome image from this kind of role but he does come off as sleazy. Which the dialogue then tries to about-face to avoid when he says "unclench your knees, nervous woman- I have no interest in defiling you"... too bad that would make me even more nervous in her situation. Patricia Clarkson's performance is phenomenal. And for a thriller with no real thrills in it, there's one good, moody savage moment.
What's Wrong with It: Reed Birney's occasional Shatnerisms ("you'll... come... home...tahmee" - "to" and "me" are separate words). I don't love the spunkier music cues which lead the episode off. And it's boring in parts. Not many, but some. It's also extremely silly and frequently hard to believe. Depending on your mood, these moments might get to you more than the good makes you ignore them.
#50. "Till Death Do We Part" (S5/E13)
Okay... this episode is a difficult one to tackle. I trekked over to IMDb's Crypt board for a few weeks some years ago when I was feeling chatty about it and I learned that this was easily one of the most disliked episodes of the series. Rhett of course loves it. What this made me learn about myself is that I like it more when everyone hates it and less when someone puts a lot of erudition into their reasons for why it works. So, maybe just once someone should dispense with all that and be as objective as possible. In 1 sentence: there is absolutely nothing truly wrong with it, yet... there's nothing really that special about it either. Except the music. I remember that (and not just because I still like The Mask- freaking shoot me already, please). I want to say it's unsettling. But I also wouldn't like to think the episode cast Eileen Brennan because the makers felt no one in their right mind could find her sexually desirable in '93. The idea that the center of the episode was all an escape fantasy is excellent, and the double-cross of Kate Vernon is brilliant in a way that only occured to me this week. But, then... Vernon's face doesn't move. She may be a zombie. (Can anyone debunk that for me?) And, the thing that I think makes this hardest for me to swallow is- wait, no- that would be Frank Stallone and Robert Picardo as Brennan's goons. But, right after them is John Stamos's smiles-on-the-outside but crying-on-the-inside manwhore. I don't care how this sounds but, I kinda think I need to see how he and Ruthless Ruth met. Yeah: thug life, bro (it is now that he's shot someone). The episode's desire for sympathy never gets past the shallow quality of John Stamos's prettyboy face. (But, I dunno, a few more experiential details just might make a difference.) As a nightmarish, drunken, blurry, desperate, washed-up fantasy- I can partially accept it. Least it tried.
#49. "Doctor of Horror" (S6/E12)
What's Right with It: Holy hell- this cast. Austin Pendleton, I want to fuck the glandular essence of your quirky pathetic-figure indelibility. You are the hero of the human-ant population. Hank Azaria's okay too. :D I don't see why he couldn't have taken over for Billy Zane in "Well Cooked Hams," would certainly have eased my suffering. But, this episode's thinking clearly is- they need a worthy match for Austin. And they got one. Travis Tritt is creepier alive than dead ("you see... you don't know about the soul, doc" - some of these quotes are not from the show, they're my takes on the characters). There's just something about his on-the-nose "oh, dear god"s (making me wonder when we learned his character was a big G-nut). Where's Laura-Louise when you need her? Speaking of corrupting the innocent, once you smile devilishly at this line, you forever belong to the dark side: "He's simple-minded and good-hearted and that's a dangerous combination." Occasional toothy-grinned jokes aside ($600- much more than $500), the character writing is pretty damn brilliant. And... newly 2nd-careered Republican slimeball Ben Stein is viciously murdered, then violated post-mortem by weirdo Azaria. Yay!
What's Wrong with It: I guess every episode needs a twist, doesn't it? Damn. There was nowhere to go but down with this one. And the twist definitely drives down the property value. Predictable- check. Over the top "crazy maniac" acting- check. Bad special effects- check. Goofball puns, proving everyone wants to be the Cryptkeeper- check. Not fun- check. :(
#48. "The Switch" (S2/E2)
What's Right with It: Roy Brocksmith is great here, as are all the scenes in the "mad scientist" lab. Great colors down there, very pretty. He has good instincts without exactly slipping into camp. I liked Kelly Preston more in Twins (great flick) but she's very effective here, as she is in everything I've seen her in. Yet another better-bitch candidate than Kim Delaney (this...might be the end of my harping on that, we'll see). William Hickey is beyond sympathetic. I think he taps right into something elemental that most people can relate to. He could have slipped into a sugar-grandpa cliche, yet he even struck me as being genuinely in love. And the image of his voice coming from Rick Rossovich's mouth is not as silly as you might expect. Nothing but surprises from The-Ahhnold as director, from his range of tones in this piece to the sophisticated attitude throughout.
What's Wrong with It: The twist is horseshit. It completely disregards what we know for a fact and re-writes character to fit the "ultimate nightmare" ending scenario. It's nothing short of impossible to accept Hickey's best friend and confidant (played by Ian Abercrombie) - who you totally believe cares about him - betraying him for money. That's just one step over the line for me. They threw that one in to try to be cruel. It turns out to be more than cruelty- it's horseshit. Just a poorly assembled twist altogether and an insult to an otherwise good episode.
#47. "99 & 44/100% Pure Horror" (S6/E14)
What's Right with It: This is a very inventive take on the old reliable gold-digger formula. That the wife puts the divorce threat on the back-burner until she tries every trick she can to get him to further her career. Also that she uses his business to force her art into the public's face. Meanwhile... though she complains about dwindling exposure and is in the end willing to drop her Laura Mars-ian Gory Portrait series due to no sales ("who's gonna buy my paintings...?!"), the amount of time and energy she puts into arguing that her education in marketing and design is important to what she does for a living helps in making her a more interesting character. She could be a model. What does she do instead? Soap box art. Yet, she's famous enough to be invited on tv talk shows (it's an amusing test of fictional boundaries). Like "This'll Kill Ya" before it, the idea is fascinating and the dialogue is detail-driven. The whole thing is like a more satisfying 2nd try on the snotty-attitude tarts of "Came the Dawn." Also- her strangely devoted husband is actually willing to forgive her cheating on him if she'll just direct her craziness toward him instead. I feel like this episode is trying its' darndest to avoid predictability. Oh... and: have you seen the twist? It's glorious.
What's Wrong with It: I suppose we're also right back in "Undertaking Palor" territory. Where director Flender might be suggesting that murder is a natural progression for someone who paints gory pictures (we actually understood the progression for the artist in "Easel Kill Ya" into murder was less cut-and-dry) instead of for a desperate, crazy bitch who wants money. Also, Cristi Conaway is sometimes crisp and cutting. But, she also rushes through some extremely important character-arc moments to try to drive up the mania of the moment. She should have tried for dark psychotic calculation instead (something sorely missing from the 6th season- too many actors are only creepy by default).
#46. "Four-Sided Triangle" (S2/E9)
What's Right with It: Another ultra-bizarre Tom Holland episode. I thought I could get through this without mentioning him but this is very similar to "Lover Come Hack to Me." Even down to the fact that now I will always associate farms with a slight chill thanks to the way he gave this setting some spine-tingling atmosphere. But, strange as it is, it's the other side of that coin. Where the finale of "Hack" will have your brain blistering as to how that twist could even work in the comic (I'm guessing there were no "itty bitty" children conceived there), the oddity here eventually leads the way to an extremely clever twist. Another damn fine music score. Acting's great. Pet Sematary's Susan Blommaert turns in the best crotchety old-lady performance this side of Anne Ramsey (with a far more quiet menace, too). The hillbilly cliches are wrapped up pretty tight.
What's Wrong with It: As much sense as it makes to have Patricia Arquette going on and on about making love to the scarecrow in front of this pair who are closer to surrogate parents than employers, that doesn't make it any more comfortable. After you see it the first time, re-watches are immediately hampered by having to watch her do it. Over. And. Over again. I'm not exactly the type to get through these things by slyly smiling and thinking, "oh, you're number's up. Mary-Jo's gonna get you... in, yeah, 14 minutes, 45 seconds... (whatever.)" Nothing to do but sit and groan.
#45. "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" (S6/E1)
What's Right with It: Another killer cast. Catherine O'Hara, Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde), slick Brit pro Joseph Maher (Sister Act), Wesley Mann (Disney's Adventures in Wonderland), and the always scary, even in comedic roles, Peter MacNicol (Addams Family Values, Ghostbusters 2). All of whom bring something great to the table. O'Hara's brassy and always entertaining. Cooney's reaction shots are hilarious. Maher legitimately makes you feel doom of global proportions is imminent. Mann is a good Droopy type. And MacNicol is the guy you take for granted, not realizing he's the key to the twist. I don't know if this is funny but it sure is fun. And really tense. In fact, it's a little too intense. The fire-breathing characters get right up in your face to the point where I felt like I was on-trial here.
What's Wrong with It: If only they had dialed down the supernatural stuff. I mean- why do the doors of this courthouse magically lead to rooms they're not connected to? This ain't Labyrinth. And the freaking stupid guilt-ghouls that pop up a couple times. You want a pound of flesh? How about I pound you with a mallet instead? Other than that, there's just one thing missing.
#44. "Only Sin Deep" (S1/E4)
What's Right with It: I think, for people who are looking for something like it, this episode delivers big time. It's funny that this came before Pretty Woman and (I don't care, I'm making this reference) Mannequin 2: On the Move because its' makeover narrative is standard in later films. Yet, from where I'm sitting, "Sin" is a forerunner. Unless somehow it actually predicted the coming of The Little Mermaid. Whatever; it has roots in a type and it's just about the best of that type. It's Cheese Heaven. There isn't a single thing I could have asked for which they overlooked. Let's try to count them off in order: hookers, snarky banter, petty revenge, cash!, "deal with the devil," voodoo, shopping montage, tacky fancy late-80's apartment party, hunky tux'd maître'D/bouncer, cheesy fashion, jewelry & beauty products, vanity, running down hospital hallways, smashing glass, throwing breakable objects in rage, murder for money, betrayal, mummified corpse, plaster headcast of broken dreams, Pamella D'Pella gets the last word (she's actually one of the reasons I was so hot to get Angel in Red on DVD- I went on about that movie in the Shout! Factory thread), and... it's all scored by Jay Ferguson. He did Nightmare on Elm Street 5. Probably my favorite score of the franchise (lousy movie though, of course). Perfectly suited to this episode. As formula, it's almost perfect. I mean, I could always ask for gore or more blood. And a stabbing or hacking death or two. But, yeah... wow. Easily one of my personal favorite episodes. Also, big points go to D'Pella and Britt Leach who is downright adorable as the long-grieving pawnshop owner who can't let go of his dead wife. If that's technically the twist, it's a real good one. (I don't mean it to seem like I'm writing off his performance. It's excellent.)
What's Wrong with It: I have absolutely no guilt about admitting this is a pleasure. But, I will say Lea Thompson's accent is terrible. The episode doesn't do the greatest job of portraying her as the girl of anyone's dreams. If anything, it's not her looks- it's that she's more "real" and honest than her competition, "Miss Clairol." And furthermore, Brett Cullen is pretty wooden. After his first scene, he turns into a soulless block.
#43. "You, Murderer" (S6/E15)
What's Right with It: Cast. John Lithgow is one of the greatest people on the planet. And, maybe he never gets much credit for being methodically unsettling with his villains. But he's a grade-A villain. Sherilyn Fenn fits perfectly in her small but impressionable role. And Isabella Rosselini never gets credit for how funny she is (the grave-digging scene). Dialogue. First, of course, I have to compare this to "The Man Who Was Death" and mention how this had all the elements to be another marathon of me rolling my eyes at the narrator. Yet, this episode shows everyone how you do it: it's all backstory. You learn a lot of important details about what got Lou into the mess he's in and... frankly, all of it made me like him better as a character. If you have to build up your male protagonist as the victim of a rotten woman, this is how you do it. It's a relentlessly clever episode with a lot of tricks up its' sleeve. Visually, of course, it's fabulous. But, more than that, all the flashbacks have a disorienting, tension-building quality. Further making Lithgow look more menacing and Rosselini more hysterically rewarding. Not that she needs much help with lines as great as: "Your suicide note is rather eloquent. I almost cried when I wrote it." Great freaking dialogue. The ending is impeccable as well, giving us the one thing "Abra Cadaver" was missing: "But, what the hell, you'll find out soon enough." Never thought the image of two villains having gotten what they deserve would look so artfully repugnant.
What's Wrong with It: Once Lou stiffens, so does the pace. Considerably.
#42. "Comes the Dawn" (S6/E13)
What's Right with It: Another first-rate cast. Susan Tyrrell (anyone notice she narrated Document of the Dead?), Bruce Payne (Passenger 57), the return of Michael Ironside, and Vivian Wu (whom I've never seen elsewhere but realize that's a shame). This one is particularly satisfying for its' anti-military revenge pay-off that I don't think anyone could have seen coming. And I'd say it also makes decent use of Girl Power. The set-up seems kinda stupid at first with the two jerk "man's" men, but even then it's full of vigor. Since it's so cold in this story, it's pretty obvious what this locale is the ideal hiding place for. Cold blood, hibernation, and since this is a horror story- hungering for human prey? But overall, this is very effective. Since it's about war and they give you someone worth rooting for and against. And you have to love Wu's final killer line. It should have been obvious from the start but, nonetheless it's too perfect.
What's Wrong with It: These are some freaking lousy vampires. I like monstrous vamps too - though I especially prefer my blood-suckers to look less like aliens and more like people - but why the hell do we really want to see their nesting-resting places after The Lost Boys? I don't want to see them with actual wings again after Fright Night. And I don't want to see them in cocoons. That's friggin' gross. And cocoons in the cold... ya know, if you want to be gross- why not go all the way and set this in a warm location with volcanic reds and magentas shooting through the walls, illuminating the nasty creeper/s inside? Anyway, it's another thing I don't want to see. After Gremlins 2: The New Batch, no one will do The Cocoon Emergence any better. The music stinks too. (Anyone else think Tarantino ripped this off?)
#41. "Séance" (S4/E4)
What's Right with It: Style. Great music. Excellent gore (and plenty of it). Cathy Moriarty. The rest of the cast are obviously great (John Vernon, without whom this whole episode's con game might fall apart at lightning speed) but it has been my most frequent Crypt re-watch because of Moriarty. She is without a doubt one of my favorite actresses. The twist is pretty predictable but it's still one hell of a scene. The blind widow's gay companion's reaction is especially priceless- "Mr. Chalmers... is looking a bit peaked, ma'am." This works even better when you consider how classy the rest of the episode has been mounted to be. Lots of nice eyebrow-raising moments.
What's Wrong with It: More than a little slow. Moriarty's training clearly seems to be at home with frantic pacing. (She shows a bit of this with her trademark raspy shrieking turning up a couple times: "Prescott! PRESSCAAAWWWTTT!!")
DVDF9, love this one:
Seasons 1-4 are fantastic, most of Season 5 is pretty good, 6 has only one episode I like and I hate every episode of Season 7.
I know what you mean about season 6. Looking quickly over my full ranking, 13 of the total 15 episodes are listed in this first half. 2 are left and neither crack my top 20. I like a few but it's true, they are mostly disappointments.
I haven't finished season 7 but most of the episodes I caught were dull. I still like "Cold War" a little though, one of the most hated episodes.
My rank of the seasons:
7. Season 7
6. Season 6
5. Season 1
4. Season 4
3. Season 5
2. Season 2
1. Season 3
I'm a bit behind here and just want to comment on your first list, #80-61. Great write ups, I too love this show and have been going through the Seasons, many episodes I'm viewing for the first time. I am currently at the beginning of Season 6, and so far I haven't liked any of the episodes. Hopefully it gets better, although from your writes ups maybe it doesn't. Season 2 was where this show really peaked. From then on each Season had said great episodes but they were in between a lot of average to bad episodes. The fun is really going through them all though and finding the gems.
I agree with these episodes all being near the bottom and not so great. I thought Carrion Death, Well Cooked Hams, Whirpool, Skin Deep and Half Way Horrible Only were really bad with Food for Thought and King of the Road being my least favourite episodes.
The few exceptions in your list, I actually remember liking The Ventriloquists Dummy as well to a lesser extent Strung Along, which had a lot of problems but was better then some of the others on your list.
Now on to read your #60-41.
I used to have a VHS I purchased from Suncoast with Abra Cadaver, Strung Along, and Curiosity Killed. Even though none of those are great episodes, I will always have fondness for them, just cause. I especially like Strung Along.
#60-41, pretty much agree with you on these, although I really liked The Switch and Undertaking Parlor (I forget is this oen fell apart in the end, don't remember). Crazy how old the kids actually were haha.
#40. "Loved to Death" (S3/E2)
What's Right with It: Full of ideas and moves at a crazy pace, yet remains in full control of everything it tosses at us. The music is eccentric, varied, smart, and moody. After a short while, you really believe death-by-sex (suggested by the aggressively ripping, almost metal, music that plays during the "I'm not fucked out" monologue: "the more I do it, the more I wanna do it") is possible. It's like several movies cut up and mixed together. The fact that Mr. Stronham's 2 shots of holding up the 2 different potion viles (love and death) are really the same one. "Grandma" likes sex and violence? Good for her. Re-viewings are better than the initial. For the most part, the cast is excellent. Mariel Hemmingway has a lot riding on her in the second half and does a great job as the empty and funny Stepford Wife type.
What's Wrong with It: Mariel Hemmingway isn't so great in half #1. Other than the fact that she doesn't look so great as a brunette, she's not good at blowing up at people over the phone. And in the episode's 28-minute running time, that phone is attached to her for a long time. Also, the twist is painfully obvious and not gracefully handled (awful rubbery facial appliance).
#39. "Split Second" (S3/E11)
Here's one of the show's sleaziest and most nudie-rific episodes. Michelle Johnson (Death Becomes Her, Dr. Giggles) shows off her huge boobs and gropes Billy Worth's crotch through his jeans in closeup... Can sleaze be compelling? (I must ask because I only usually come across it in the fairly neutered likes of The Happy Hooker or completely unserious, boobs squeaking as their owner runs a bar of soap over them in the shower in the odd Jim Wynorski flick. Might as well call it camp at this rate.) But, was anyone else freaking paranoid watching this episode? Leprechaun 4 features a sub-sub-subplot about a woman who can curse men to die by bearing her breasts. Of course, this isn't scary. Yet, the second I see MJ's knockers- I feel like that's it for Billy. He's a goner. But... does it matter; am I actually worried for him? I think I am. I'm sure worried for someone- it's hard to breathe at times during this episode. The moment the door opens as he's hurriedly rushing to pack his things, I knew there was going to be hell. But it almost feels as though the whole forest is watching them. Lit in blue light, music licking the edges of the screen like a horny devil, and the sight of one tree is symbolic of a blade to me (the painful kind). And the wood is full of those things. Then a beam of light shines through the doorway and you can almost see what's in the air. Call it a fear of exposure - like, whatever you're doing, at any time you don't want to be seen / caught - but I consider it a credit to Brion James' talent that he comes off as such an uncontrollable force of nature that he could be considered scary (I've seen him in other roles, not quite so psycho-eyed as this).
After that... it's pretty hard for me to be able to hold this episode's flaws against it. Other than a supreme lack of subtlety (within 10 seconds of going into the lumberjacks' common, there's a fart sound effect), I have difficulty even deciding what the real flaw is. I know what bothers me the most- the sexist black lumberjack. Why is he such a hypocrite? He'd "pet" her if she asked for it, yet he's the most self-righteous in preaching to all the guys how dangerous she is. Oh, and... in what I've discovered is typical for some episodes (therefore- some writers? hmmm) in this series, all the blame for the oncoming violence is placed on the women. For this to happen, there first has to be deadly danger in the place itself that can be molded by anyone- since it takes such a conniving woman to suss it out. Sexism wouldn't even be a concern were it not for the twist. Which has the stink of mob justice all over it. Did they all lose their sight? Artie was assaulted by Dixon, but could anyone in the world have actually blamed Liz for that? I guess somehow it's great that this large group of people have such good judgment in deciding who deserves to die- since, in possibly the most illogical moment in the show's entire run... Liz actually shouts "Kill him!" as Dixon swings the final blow. Um... why in the fucking hell would she do that? The threat of being caught turned her on but, once she's caught, that's all over. Appropriately, she looks rather concerned for Ted as he's beating the holy shit out of him. Then... she eggs him on? To say the least, we sorta need the faintest idea that she has an inclination toward enjoying the suffering of others. I'd call it an imperative. And then, there's the issue of that darn peanut gallery. I'm inclined to believe these guys are cheering on the carnage due to lack of sexual gratification. After all, it was Dixon's rule and he's the one we see getting torn to shreds. But the story is a little more preoccupied with the Wood Chopper's Competiton and how essential Ted's abilities are to their team. Uh... whatever keeps your boat floating, guys.
So... yeah, this episode definitely needs some sensitivity training. Meanwhile, other darts are thrown for why tensions are unreasonably high in this camp. She blames money for getting stuck in one hopeless situation after another, he blames pressure from environmentalists for some of his psychotic rage. But, more interestingly, there's the theory that good old-fashioned boredom will push anyone to extremes. I'll buy that. MJ's final narration is more than telling. It's almost comforting. Of course, I also believe the exceptional gore and the dendrological cleverness of the final death set-piece would make anyone's eyes light up.
#38. "Dig That Cat...He's Real Gone" (S1/E3)
What's Right with It: I'm going to have to refer back to Rhett again here. A message, as well as the story of a character who goes through something tremendous, is often nowhere without a big show and a lot of visual flash to throw you around. Good themes all around. The cast is fun.
What's Wrong with It: Much too overt. I mean... technically, what does having a membership with the NRA prove? That you own a gun. Now, if he were gettin' paid by them- my antenna would shoot up. (Plus, I really don't like Donner much as a person. If he ever had a legitimate complaint about something, I'm not sure he knew what to do with it. Talk to me when you direct something like Wolfen, Mr. Lethal Weapon.) (Entirely Useless trivia: "Earth Song" just came up in my playlist, as I typed ^that... I find this amusing.)
#37. "Mournin' Mess" (S3/E10)
What's Right with It: Rhett was right, I am glad Steven Weber is here. In fact, his performance is a little too good for this scummy character. Except that it makes you think he deserves what he gets in the twist all the more. The twist, as you can see from the pic above, is the stuff of Crypt legend. As for G.H.O.U.L.S., I think it's the "Unwanteds Layaway" part that really gives it away. That's bending over backwards to fill out the acronym (not to mention "layaway" is a word only used to suggest something that will be used again later). Rhett got the rest.
What's Wrong with It: This was easily one of my favorite episodes for a long time. But... the more I re-watch it, the less excited I get for the twist. Or, at all. At any point. More holes become apparent everytime. Like- no cut to a closeup showing the ear being ripped off. Or, the cheap music and the bad rush to get Weber in the coffin and ship him off to the dining room. Or the obvious "ha ha- now you're a bum just like your story." Or how beyond compassionless Ally Walker's character is, how unmerited her nastiness is. And she's really going for his throat too. Doesn't he get it bad enough in the twist? He's got to keep getting it over and over again. It's almost like this is acting as spurring motivation for why he continues being a jerk with women. But they're all pretty judgmental themselves. Except... for Ghoul Lady, Jess. Go figure. (Of course, it's part of the plot that the society members were all once homeless themselves. Even then, it seems like a bit of a stretch that Jess says nothing about Weber's absurdly messy apartment. It's like- he once spent a lot of time there. Enough to get it messy. But now his days are all booked up. Huh?)
#36. "The Secret" (S2/E18)
What's Right with It: A genuinely creepy and stylistically indulgent fairy tale. There's a definite Escape to Witch Mountain-vibe all throughout. Especially when you see Theodore's bedroom, which almost looks like a playground- reminding me instantly of Tony and Tia's accomodations. Then the gluttonous eating of nothing but pastry-sweets is obviously Hansel & Gretel. Meanwhile, there's a distinct Misery feel to the tension that mounts once he finds himself trapped with what seem like the quintessential hospitable guardians being way too generous. There's blue light everywhere (it worked for "This'll Kill Ya"). It's a gorgeous and lavish episode, from the mansion to the outdoors to the car to the bedroom. And all the scenes involving food and the guilt of eating are sure to touch a nerve with someone. I remember thinking it was a horrible thing to heap onto this poor kid: "just think about how you're depriving all the other kids of food" and whatnot. I'm not sure what time period this takes place in but I'm willing to believe making the kids out like "Hard Knock Life" victims was an interesting way to beef up the Theodore character (even though nobody but the mean warden/directress/headmistress resents him for anything he does). The twist is one of the show's best.
What's Wrong with It: This time, Larry Drake's performance is... given by a man who seems to think the bulk of the episode is about his relationship with the kid. The first time you watch the episode, it seems to be paced really well. But re-watches make it look like he's taking time away from more suspense scenes in the house. (A good way to get our minds off guessing the twist.)
#35. "The Bribe" (S6/E6)
What's Right with It: Upon first glance, this might seem like a nihilistic episode about what a sad, dirty, and sick place the world is, or that it's about that kind of poor father who has to struggle with hardship and tough choices. Instead, it's a twisted, intelligent, highly relevant social satire. One that subversively points the finger at the kind of Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis thriller hero and mocks them for their middle-class pandering, simplistic conservativism, and dopey demeanor. By revealing the naivety inherent in their not always obvious narrow-mindedness. Everything here's a double-edged sword. We already know how ugly and sleazy this strip club is and Puck is so obnoxious that it makes you think the only person you have to relate to is Zeller. We know how closely he clings to his naive beliefs. Like for instance, how people are either good or bad, and are not really somewhere inbetween. The image he has of his daughter as being so naturally, primly demure and clean-living when not under someone else's dark influence. The episode argues that there's no such thing as a clean life, there's just living or not living. Which is where the twist shows that the supporting characters who don't have a clear moral objective represent the former and the people getting in their way are the latter. It's like a reverse Romeo and Juliet, where the lovers take a look at the chaos around them and say, "we've got to get out of here." Then they do and the warring factions take each other out. Now, that's a happy ending! Great music too. (Who would think: this plot needs techno? Brilliant.) I don't know who Pray for Rain are, but I like 'em.
What's Wrong with It: The ant-guy scene. What... the fuck is he doing? And... is he disfigured? Why? (I think we all know fire burns people. Ugh.) I hated this scene more than anything in "Oil's Well That Ends Well." Gah!
#34. "None but the Lonely Heart" (S4/E1)
What's Right with It: As a cast, easily the show's classiest group. I mean... Tom Hanks cameos just to get his head crushed by a television set. That's comparable to John Travolta's cameo in Boris and Natasha (did you know he was in that movie?). Also, the rapping old lady from The Wedding Singer (Ellen Albertini Dow) is here... just to be a zombie for maybe 10 seconds screentime. Sugar Ray Leonard is here... just to get a shovel in his neck. Bibi Osterwald (As Good As It Gets, nominated for 7 Academy Awards) is poisoned, then gets to coat herself in the same horrendous-looking zombie makeup as Dow and Frances Sternhagen...yep, the Frances Sternhagen from Misery. Can you imagine the conversations that must have been going on on-set? So, anyway, this is all because Tom Hanks directed (no doubt because his main squeeze, Rita Wilson, was a cannibal mutant ghoul the year before) and... what can I say? It's quite a sight to see all this. Consider it a novelty, if you must (but, then, compare this to something like Movie 43- I dare ya) but it's a novelty that goes a long way. You might be expecting Hanks to pull back a bit but...no. There's blood, creative death scenes, a very large bodycount, freaky music, grab and shake you camera moves, and the twist is extremely grotesque. He really delivers.
What's Wrong with It: It sure could look better.
#33. "As Ye Sow" (S5/E2)
What's Right with It: Every season's got to have its' token "psycho-drama" episode yet this one really seems to hate that formula. It's entirely unpredictable throughout. The cast is utterly perfect, all performances beyond the line where average usually sits. Most of the time the episode is too absurd to be taken seriously. The camera movements are especially giggle-inducing. Hector Elizondo is definitely playing some brand of caricature (the scene where he's questioned about his wife's dressing habits is a standout moment). The plot is a bore on paper but, you really wind up getting into it. It's s'damn quirky.
What's Wrong with It: I can just see Rhett now (especially considering the episode that ranks right ahead of it)...but, this is not a memorable episode. It sure sticks out when you're watching it but you'll have forgotten it within a day of having seen it. I guarantee you.
#32. "The Thing from the Grave" (S2/E6)
What's Right with It: Not a lot, I won't lie to you. But the parts that are right are easily among my favorites of the show (especially the scene where Teri Hatcher goes to Kyle Secor's apartment after he's killed and is slowly given clues that something's dead wrong there). This was the first episode I ever saw (does anyone forget their first?) and since, I've always hoped I'd see more of what I liked about it in everything I watch. I might not even be making this argument without the episode's amazing music score. Had this played in any lesser episode, I might be saying the same thing. It shines over iffy dialogue, lackluster character writing, fumbled performances. But I would also call it well shot and suspenseful for its combination of the two. Miguel Ferrer helps. Call it my one guilty pleasure ranking if that makes you feel any better.
What's Wrong with It: Oh my God, Kyle Secor is awful! I really wish his part had been recast. He's stiffer than Bogart at the time of "You, Murderer"s filming. On an unrelated note (I promise), his death scene betrays what Day of the Dead taught us- when you get shot, it kind of hurts like hell when you put pressure on the body part you were shot in. He just stumbles around, falls right on his shoulder and acts weak. What would Rhodes do?
#31. "Deadline" (S3/E12)
What's Right with It: It's a character study and the characters are immaculately handled. While the 4th season tried to be classy, this just is. Top to bottom. Which might not sound like much to rave about but, watch it again. It's more tense than you might be thinking. The scene of Vicki's death is probably the most eye-opening quiet moment in the series. Of note because, again, the rest of the episode is laying off, trying to slowly draw you in. It works. It's also probably the best thing Marg Helgenberger's ever been in- yet she made sure to piss all over her entire former career once C.S.I. made her a household name.
What's Wrong with It: The twist sort of leaves out important details. Like, a few... hundred. What, exactly, is he doing in an institution? Why is he here instead of in jail? What does that have to do with his drinking problem? When did the police catch him? What specifically gave him away? How long had he been there after he killed Vicki? Did he kill anyone else? Was there a trial? Am I really missing the point; was there any sign whatsoever that this, of all the possible endings, was coming? Is he really insane if he's talking to us (rather than, oh, say- Peter Dobson or Sam Kinison)? Some twists are done for the sake of a shock but this one is guaranteed to make you feel either cheated and mad about that or like you've just been tuned into another episode.
#30. "Werewolf Concerto" (S4/E13)
What's Right with It: I'm a cheeseball for Murder-Mystery Weekend plots (I even think it made for one of the few guilt-freely enjoyable episodes of Saved by the Bell). But this one really is a lot of fun with a new red herring every few minutes and a wonderful cast of familiar faces, all of whom are likable here. I won't bother running down the who's-who, I'm gonna guess you've already seen it. If not, I highly recommend it. It's not overbearingly scary but it is plenty spooky when it needs to be. The camera really gets you in there; it's very thrilling in a cheap, pulpy kinda way. Equally fun music score- I want to call it noirish but that genre's out of my depths. It just has all the right touches during its' excellent dialogue scenes.
What's Wrong with It: The extremely tactless, tasteless, and pointless murder of the newly-introduced maid. I'm all for upping the bodycount whenever but I don't even remember what killed her. I do however remember that it went on for far too long, there was no maid in any previous scene, and it felt really wrong. Beyond being pointless, it felt sexist. A simple clawing or biting death and some dang blood would do fine. They didn't need to thrash her around the entire room, banging her into various objects. If the episode needed padding, the opening chase scene could easily have been longer. If this was to show us how brutal the werewolf was, I think they throw it away the minute Beverly D'Angelo makes her speech about how "lupies" have a tendancy to act like giant apes. It's all the worse having this come directly after the episode decides to show this to us. Otherwise, we don't see the werewolf because we're still trying to guess who it could be.
#29. "Korman's Kalamity" (S2/E13)
When you drop something like The Brood as a reference, it's like giving the brain a steak. So much to work with. Back in 2009, Rhett's reviews are what made me finally plonk down the $11-17 per set and I finally watched the first six seasons. Among them, this episode was the one I was most excited to see again. Unfortunately, it isn't as wild and crazy as I was hoping for. For some horrible reason, after I saw this as a kid- my mind decided to remember it as monsters popping up everywhere, chomping on and clawing through people left and right. That it was about the monsters, period. So, naturally I was Rabid with excitement (har). In fact- it was on YouTube. Yet I decided I was going to see it properly. On DVD. I was pretty disappointed at first. But, there's still a lot to like about it. Colleen Camp is always indescribable. Yet, she always delivers. What she delivers... is indescribable. Cynthia Gibb is like a superwoman with dialogue. She swoops in, gets it all done in record timing, and keeps you invested. Then, there's Harry Anderson with his part-lost puppy, part-Seymour Krelborn put-upon everyman, part-frenzied sidekick (to everyone here, including his fellow comics and, even the monsters), part-hunky nerd (yeah, I said it), part-romantic daydreamer, part-kid brother... just a wonderful performance- one of the show's all-time best. I always knew he was good but, this good? He's definitely the best thing about this episode. Which is another lazy-day sort, presenting a nice balance for the other episodes attempting to be traumatizing, scary, or creepy.
#28. "House of Horror" (S5/E7)
An amusing mix of Hell Night with nothing but the best bits from Season 2's "Television Terror" and Season 3's "Mournin' Mess." A very good combination. It starts with a long series of juvenile jokes (kissing shoes with dog poop on them and various college pranks that feel like they were hatched by The Goonies), which kinda suggests we're in for another Goosebumpsy half-hour but it's much more gratifying thanks to a big cast of sympathetic characters and some pretty old-fashioned Halloween novelty antics ("creepy" sound effects, body parts that are probably fake, costumes with masks, fake blood, and dares to go into the haunted-house). It becomes progressively darker and less kid-friendly as it goes along but never devolves into mean-spirited nastiness. Though it does torture our leads for most of the running time only to throw two thirds of them to the ghoul sorority. Considering how wrong it could have gone, it's much better than it needed to be. It surprised me from start to finish. Objectively, it's a "take it or leave it" 30-minutes since it really is light on honest scares. But with Brian Krause (Charmed, Sleepwalkers) steaming up the place and Wil Wheaton crawling around in nothing but briefs... I'll take it.
#27. "'Til Death" (S2/E4)
It's slow to start and really plays slinky hottie D.W. Moffett as a shallow villain. Based on that, you'd think you know where this episode's going to go... but you have absolutely no idea! It reforms again, then again; no matter what your expectations are, they will be re-written. The tone is dark, tight, and tense... at first. Then it gets mysterious, which brings out some style (I'd tell you it's all the work of blue light but the shot of Margaret slowly opening Moffett's bedroom door while the wind blows her all around is breath-taking). Then, they add a zombie to the mix. I was not expecting this. Death brings out this episode's playful side- and how. Actress Pamela Gien, also at first undersold as an uptight frigid brat, is an absolute riot as the sing-songy doll-like domestic princess gone wild with increasingly uproarious one-liners. From rolling severed heads to the monstrous, crazed piano crashing away like the player was replaced by a gremlin, things get real fun! Sporting a huge cleaver (which she intends to use on someone)- Gien whines about a bullet hole in her expensive dress, comes back from blow after blow like The Terminator, and - in the funniest Crypt moment ever - makes a pun after being set on fire that made me laugh so hard when I first heard it, I'm sure the neighbors heard me! A rolicking good time that stands up on repeat viewings. Moffett initially came off like a hollow, petty louse but it turns out he was perfectly cast. He's very funny. Also... he cares about his servants? Where did that come from? I mean, we all know there's some racism implied when he ditches the far sexier Janet Hubert before he even meets another woman and later only stops short of strangling her because of the law. Though, I found this intriguing. Because she tells us the society they live in is the actual source of the discrimination and that he's really just a coward. So, he has a few more gears turning inside than it seems. If anyone is short-changed here, it's Hubert. But she does camp up the ending more than a little.
#26. "The Assassin" (S6/E8)
A profound creeper. At first, it would seem that it's trying to wring some cheap shocks out of the "she's a man!" twist. But... Shelley Hack is really creepy! It's almost as though her experience disposing of the clean-up agents pushed her from a calculated killer to an all-out psychopath. I mean... exactly how did those body parts end up in the dinner-party food again? I sure wouldn't eat over at her place. That roast she serves to the camera in the spine-chilling final shot is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. Through pure suggestion. When I first saw this episode as a teenager, I thought she literally fed her dinner guests the corpses of the agents. Yet it wouldn't have needed to go that far. Just holding up that dead meat is enough to say: don't fuck with this woman. As that, it's like the scary side of Serial Mom. So, yeah- the cast is excellent. I'm so happy to see Dust Devil's Chelsea Field in something else horror related. Corey Feldman... jabbers a little more than he should but he's definitely interesting when trying to intimidate Hack with his "I'm still gonna kill you when I'm finished" threat. The pacing is lively and the action scenes are surprisingly faster and more furious than probably any of the previous episodes. Thanks to the tricky and sharp camerawork. It could use more musical experimentation but, all in all- a satisfying, sexually radical episode (and easily the best of season 6).
#25. "Easel Kill Ya" (S3/E8)
This episode might be deeply brilliant or it might be just okay. I haven't quite figured it out yet. Watching it, it's very mechanical. Smart but mechanical. For example- has anyone else noticed that Sharon really isn't right for Jack? She can't follow him at all. Their parting, regardless of who winds up dead before the Crypt Keeper signs us out, was foretold from the moment we see her robotically reciting the go-getter Obsessives Anonymous anthem. The counselor in that group doesn't encourage Jack to exorcise his inner demons and all Sharon can offer him is a home version of the same course. This almost feels like a two-shoulder conscience confrontation piece where both the devil and the angel sitting on either side are offering him bad advice. But they're also both right. Jack definitely needs a change of surrounding and focus but, unless he wants to spend his time getting her to face reality- is what he really needs in his life someone else to fix up? The twist is of course cleverly devised. Yet it doesn't work without a tragic loss. Although, there is also an undertonal suggestion that Sharon wouldn't have been hurt if she hadn't gotten involved with Jack. It's a sign- he's wrong for her too. So, that's his angel. The relationship he has with his devil, Mayflower, is as you can imagine much more interesting. So interesting that he even ends up in Jack's bed at one point. Not sure what's going on there either. Except, of course, that it's day in his reality with Sharon and night in his fantasy with Mayflower (calm down- that word doesn't always suggest wish-fulfillment). This guy is one of Crypt's best villains, played by an intellectually intimidating William Atherton. A manipulative, smarmy, and passive-abusive figure in Jack's life, you have to love his cocky "show me what you've got" attitude going beyond just the paintings Jack turns in to him. There's just something about that "I think you will" after Jack says he doesn't need anymore of his money. He seems to be pressuring Jack to prove he's morbid, turning it into a cool and detached challenge. He's preying on Jack's desperation then puncturing him to get more of it. I guess I don't have to think it's flawless to know there's something here. There's also a lot of gore. More of the show's best.
#24. "Death of Some Salesmen" (S5/E1)
What's Right with It: Rhett got 'em all again. Except that I want to say this is one of the darkest episodes of the series, bar none. It's insanely cynical, but wondrously disturbing. Calling it twisted doesn't do it justice. The music, the backwood family values, the loving way it photographs the Wynona character and tosses her some sympathy as though it were concerned she might be hurt by Ed Begley Jr's scoundrel heartbreaker, and the full meaning of the twist combine to form the pure definition of "grave." Something about watching this episode makes me feel closer to my own mortality. I'm going to guess that that has to do with how it's shot. The angles are beyond unsettling. The pacing is morbid (if there is such a thing). Every scene really takes its time unfolding the profoundly stomach-hardening story and though it's a very short story, it's a full-plated episode. On the surface, it just seems gross. It's something much more. I mean, the episode drives right past social commentary given the set-up involves paying back salesmen for selling cheap products that breakdown to people whether they can afford them or not. Does this family even have any "money"? It's possible they don't. They can take whatever they want from any salesman who happens by. So, what right do they have to be turning the tables on this guy? None. But, do they need one? Turns out, truer to real life, he was just in the wrong place at the right time.
What's Wrong with It: The dead bodies look like wax. Yet, the camera just can't help going in right for the closeup.
#23. "Dead Wait" (S3/E6)
Crypt really knows how to cast 'em, don't they? I'm actually talking about sexy actors. One could say they wanted the most luscious women and the manliest of men... not knowing what a turn-on they are. James Remar. Goddamn! Is it hot in here or is it just him? This time though they really put the rough man's looks to the test as a way for the character to prove his brains over others' brawn. The second he meets his ticket to Black Pearl Island (humor me, would you), he's criticized for not being a man of the land (for having smooth, clean, untortured hands). The starter scene of the episode has a choice- call him lazy because he's not out with his partner taking the same risks or insinuate that he isn't trusted to do the same tasks because he's a prettyboy. Meanwhile, he's sitting on the bed jeans bulging and tight tanktop arguing, "I got ideas too! Don't treat me like a fuckin' moron!" Later, he has to build his friendship with John Rhys Davies - a wise elder type here - on the strength of inner-quality. Another test, really. One we all know he fails since his only loyalty is to himself. But he's a very interesting guy as a character. Smarter than he looks but dumber than he claims to be. I mean, he can't really say Whoopi's Peligree saved his life. Yet there he goes, spilling his guts to her; "this is what I want, this is why I want it, this is why I'm worth it." But, hey, those jeans are tight throughout and his briefs are red to compliment his most prized feature. And this is only half the episode. The other half is all pure gross-out voodoo goodness. Nasty, bloody, gruesome, and with a plot that features loads of dark double-crossing. It's easily inspired for its' type with killer gore (that spurting-neck closeup is something only Troma usually have the guts to do) and a surprising ending: Whoopi Goldberg on the Crypt Keeper's David Letterman-esque talk show. I have to agree with Rhett that her priestess character is pretty flawed as a performance but watching a Hollywood megastar in their prime wielding machetes is beyond awesome. She's no Jason Voorhees but I thought she did great. Excellent twist too: he died as he lived- in vain. Then she throws his pearl away. Classic.
#22. "Split Personality" (S4/E11)
Okay- sometimes with this show, the work comes in matching the misdeeds of the character with the severity of the payback they get in the twist. Because there are some extremely downright nasty twists here. It's one thing to say: split personality = split person. If you want to show it, you might also want to make your main antagonist the king of all weasels. That's why the casting of Joe Pesci was a real bet-hedger. If there's a risk here, it's that he was too likable in My Cousin Vinny. But he has that history of playing irresistable slimeballs. And, as to be expected, he nails this gambling con artist, Vic. But, to further supplement the twist, he's made into a despicable, mean-spirited pig right from the start. (That "did you pay me to fuck?" hooker scene is straight out of a gangster movie. Um... thanks for the shot of gritty realism in our gold-digger fantasy?) There's actually a lot to his character. My favorite thing is his red car and matching red suit- I want that fucking suit! (This is actually one of the show's most colorful episodes by far, primaries everywhere and some green and pink later on.) But he tests his scumbag smarts by trying to pass himself off to the piercing brunette twins as a fine arts connoisseur when he actually thinks they have lousy taste. Suddenly, he's spouting lots of pretty convincing dialogue about their dead father's (Richard Donner in a framed-picture cameo) architectural achievements. With a lot of style and flair, this is a great free-wheeling little episode. Where the women become a device for more than just their looks. Though these twins are pretty creepy!
#21. "Spoiled" (S3/E13)
Another excellent cast. In this case, I'm going to throw in the word "underrated." Faye Grant, especially, is marvelous. As are Annabelle Gurwitch and Anita Morris. (Ever get the feeling women don't always get the recognition they deserve?) Alan Rachins has his work cut out for him competing with Grant's soap opera beefcakes but definitely has a certain dashing quality here. This episode may feel a little close to "Split Second" but I think it keeps character securely in-check and is far less abusive of the audience (unless the twist makes you squirm- but I'm not going to complain). The obvious scab to pick here is how undeserved the husband's revenge is. If ever a character deserved a free-pass to cheat on their spouse, it's this woman. And, yet, I say the ending works. The camera starts getting all tilty and Rachins starts getting very crazy. And fun. When it was her story, his scenes in the lab always focused on her and cut him short. Suddenly, it flips and it's his story. Which tests how good he can be at playing extreme. I think he does it very well (his insane laugh is amazing). In fact, I'd even say his crazy side is downright hot. The ending submerges us in some great drunken montage of tubes and bloody instruments (and that blood really pops in the shot, I've never seen it look more red). The soap opera mixed with mad scientist movie is a really interesting idea and I'm glad to see the makers here put it to such effective use. I have even more to rave about but Rhett already got most of that.
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