Monday, March 12, 2012
H.B.O's Tales From The Crypt Season 1 Part 2
Episode 3 : Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone
Directed by : Richard Donner
Starring : Joe Pantoliano
Synopsis : Dr Manfried (Gustav Vintas) offers homeless man Ulric (Joe Pantoliano) much needed cash if he can experiment on him. Ulric agrees and before too long he has a gland from a cats brain grafted on to his own, supposedly giving him the cat's nine lives. The experiment is a success and sensing a money making opportunity the two men team up with a carnival owner Barker (Robert Wuhl), to exploit "Ulric The Undying" by killing him in a variety of ways. As the lives begin to run out, greed rears it's ugly head, just how many more times can Ulrich perform his trick?
Drown him, electrocute him, shoot him, it doesn't matter what you do to Ulric The Undying, he just keeps coming back. People seem to just love seeing a killing and they keep coming back to see Ulric, it's completely obvious where the story is headed with the third episode but you know what? It doesn't matter, thanks to a strong, witty and knowing script by Terry Black, one that embraces it's silliness and runs with it. Coupled with strong performances from an amusingly caustic Pantoliano, a fantastic Wuhl, who if the acting gig were ever to dry up, would be a natural as a carnival barker and Kathleen York as a seemingly sweet and ditzy carnival worker who latches on to Ulric. An impressive story of greed, murder and maths, with excellent direction from Donner who seems to really enjoy himself with this show. My only issue is, with only a finite number of deaths surely they could have come up with a bigger money making idea than such a small carnival?
Note : Donner must have been having so much fun, he cameos as one of the crowd chanting for Ulric to die.
Episode 4 : Only Sin Deep
Directed by : Howard Deutch
Starring : Lea Thompson
Synopsis : Beautiful (At least on the outside) call girl Cynthia Vane (Lea Thompson) is looking to snag a rich man (Brett Cullen), in order to do this she needs cash, so she robs her pimp of his jewellery and kills him in the process. She takes her ill gotten gains to a pawn shop, where the pawnbroker (Britt Leach) won't buy the hot property, instead he offers her $10,000 for her "beauty". Thinking he's nuts Cynthia accepts the deal and is warned she has a four month window to change her mind.
Following the dark humour of the first three episodes, Only Sin Deep plays it much more serious and this works against it. Without the humour, the deficiencies in the format of the show are highlighted, it's much more difficult to create a serious episode within the confines of twenty something minutes. That isn't to say Only Sin Deep doesn't have it's moments however, the acting is good with Britt Leach suitably creepy as the pawnbroker with a hidden agenda and Thompson, so often the good girl, relishes the chance to play a cold, calculating heartless bitch. Another episode written by Fred Dekker and it feels less horror themed and more like a Twilight Zone episode, it moves quickly and has one moment in particular that resonates but it's effect is diminished by the characters being as shallow as they are, still that's kind of the point of the episode, so it seems harsh to criticise it for that. Not much in the way of violence in this episode apart from a surprisingly bloody shooting.