It is time for our next installment of HBO Classics. You know, with all the channels HBO offers and since they have multiple airings of the same movies over and over in any given month you’d think they could find room to air some of their classic shows over again. That sentiment has been stated on this site before and it is a good idea. Well, let’s get moving, there are thirty-two episodes of TALES OF THE CRYPT to look at.
Season Two began with a three episode block on April, 21st 1990.
“Dead Right” was directed by Howard Deutch. PLOT – A gold-digging secretary follows the advice of a fortune teller and marries a man after being told that he will die shortly after inheriting a large sum of money. As is the great CRYPT fashion this episode does not have the ending you expect. The installment stars Demi Moore as the down on her luck dame and Jeffrey Tambor (THE LARRY SANDER’S SHOW) as her supposed sugar daddy.
“The Switch “was directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. PLOT – I remember this episode as a stand-out piece. In it a rich, elderly bachelor wants to impress a young woman by switching his body, one piece at a time, with a younger man. The old geezer starts out as actor William Hickey and ends up quite differently in order to get the girl played by Kelly Preston. Hickey(pictured) was nominated for an Emmy for his performance.
“Cutting Cards “was directed by Walter Hill. PLOT – Realizing the town isn’t big enough for the both of them, two rival high stakes gamblers face off against one another in deadly games of ‘Russian Roulette’ and ‘Chop Poker’. These guys don’t know when to quit even when they have nothing else to bid. Lance Henriksen and Kevin Tighe star.
“Til Death” was directed by Chris Walas. PLOT – A hustling owner of a swampy plantation uses a voodoo potion to gain the love of a rich woman but fails to follow the directions. Oh no, ignoring the directions is always a no-no as D. W. Moffatt’s character learns the hard way. It seems his sweetheart will love him forever; even after she’s dead. Isn’t she pretty?
“Three’s A Crowd” was directed by David Burton Morris. PLOT – In it a couple on their anniversary is invited to spend time with the Best Man at their wedding in his country cabin. While there jealousy raises its ugly head. Gavin O’Herliy is the suspicious husband. There is a nasty twist ending to this one.
“The Thing From the Grave” was directed by Fred Dekker. PLOT – This one is another tale of jealousy and loyalty. A model played by Teri Hatcher warms up to the photographer who promises that he will always be there for her. Her boyfriend played by Miguel Ferrer puts a stop to the cameraman’s life but not the promise made.
“The Sacrifice” was directed by Richard Greenberg. PLOT – Here is a story of blackmail. Kevin Kilner plays Jim, an insurance agent, who has an affair with a client’s wife played by Kim Delaney. He kills the husband but the death was witnessed and a twisted blackmail is played out. It was all crazy enough to cause the Crypt Keeper to try to end it all…yet again… in the closing bit!
“For Cryin’ Out Loud” was directed by Jeffrey Price. PLOT – A rock promoter plans a scam to take all the money and run but his conscience won’t leave him alone and it is driving him insane to the point that he tries to get it out of his head. You would as well if your conscience sounded like the screech of Sam Kinison!
“Four-Sided Triangle “was directed by Tom Holland. PLOT – A poor farm girl ends up believing that a scarecrow is her lover after she suffers a head injury. It looks like a clown to me but, in any case, the question that lies to the heart of this episode is if the scarecrow is real or not. Be prepared for a twist ending with this one.
“A Ventriloquist’s Dummy” was directed by Richard Donner. PLOT – Okay, you knew there had to be a ventriloquist dummy story here somewhere. Many people seemed to be spooked by them. In this story a young practitioner, played by Bobcat Goldthwait, seeks out his long retired idol and discovers a shocking secret…that his idol is played by Don Rickles! No, actually the picture here reveals the secret.
“Judy, You’re Not Yourself Today” was directed by Randa Hanes. PLOT: Well, if Judy is not herself who is she? Maybe, the strange saleslady who sold Judy a magic necklace has something to do with it? It does since the odd woman is a witch who takes possession of Judy. Frances Bay was the witch and Carol Kane played her victim.
“Fitting Punishment” was directed by Jack Sholder. PLOT – It is a story that addresses that greed is a vice best left behind. A greedy funeral director cuts corners to save a buck, but he does it one too many times as a botch funeral comes back to haunt him. Moses Gunn stars in this moral lesson.
“Korman’s Kalamity “was directed by Rowdy Herrington. PLOT – A creative comic book artist suddenly is able to bring his monstrous creations to life so his nagging wife just better watch out. I mean look what happened to the guy who was suspecting of having an affair with her (pictured right). Harry Anderson plays the artist.
“Lower Berth “ was directed by Kevin Yagher. PLOT – This is one of the quirkiest episodes of the entire series. It is about a sideshow freak and his love for a 4000 year old mummy. This one warrants a picture for sure – here is Enoch the Two-faced Man played by the brother of the director James Yagher. It took four hours to apply this makeup.
“Mute Witness To Murder” was directed by Jim Simpson. PLOT – A woman becomes mute from shock after she witnesses a man slaughter his wife from across the street. When her husband calls a doctor, who is also the murderer, he commits her to an insane asylum. Kristine Neilsen stars as the unlucky lass.
“Television Terror “was directed by Charles Picemi. PLOT – A tabloid news show host and his camera crew investigate a house haunted by the ghost of a woman who killed seven men. The host and the crew get more than they bargained for of course. The best part of this I if I recall was it had the caustic Morton Downey Jr. as the TV host.
“My Brother’s Keeper” was directed by Peter S. Seaman. PLOT – The relationship between brothers becomes strained when the good one doesn’t want to be separated from his evil brother. It is a difficult situation as they are Siamese twins. The brothers are played by Jonathan Stark and Timothy Stack.
“The Secret” was directed by S. Michael Riva. PLOT – A 12 year-old-orphan is adopted and given a life of sweets and luxury by a rich couple harboring a terrifying secret but little do they realize the boy may have a secret himself. It seems the old couple (she’s Grace Zabriskie of BIG LOVE) are vampires but the lad proves to be a werewolf and we know how well those two ghoulish types get along.
Season Three began with a three episode block on June 15th, 1991.
“Loved To Death” was directed by Tom Mankiewicz. PLOT – A writer bumps into a lady across the hall and is smitten, but spurned by her; that is until their mutual landlord gives the lad a love potion. Not only does she eventually love him to death but, she loves him in the afterlife as well. Andrew McCarthy and Mariel Hemingway play the unhappy couple.
“Carrion Death” was directed by Steven E. De Sousa. PLOT – I remember and love this one. An escaped con running for the Mexican border ends up killing a state trooper, but in the process is cuffed to him (the trooper swallowed the handcuff key before dying) and has to drag the heavy corpse across the desert to freedom. To make matters worse, he finds himself stalked by a hungry vulture. It doesn’t end well for Kyle MacLachlan’s character – the vulture wins.
“The Trap” was directed by Michael J. Fox (yes, that one.) PLOT – Another down on his luck loser story as a guy plots to fake his own death and collect the life insurance so he and his wife can live well. It is pulled off and he lies low for a while and even gets plastic surgery. His wife doesn’t recognize him then and a twist ending seals his fate. Bruce McGill & Teri Garr star.
“Abra Cadaver” was directed by Stephen Hopkins. PLOT – A doctor’s career is ruined when a practical joke on him causes harm to his practice. He seeks out his revenge by paralyzing his victim so others think he’s dead meaning he can feel his autopsy. Beau Bridges is the deranged doc (picture right).
“Top Billing” was directed by Todd Holland. PLOT – A struggling actor kills off his competition in order to secure a part in a strange, off-off-Broadway production of Hamlet. The catch – he is cast as Yorick which means for the clueless he is the skull of a fallen comrade to which Hamlet offers a famous monologue. Lot of big names in this one. Jon Lovitz is the lead; also appearing is John Astin, bruce Boxleitner, paul Benedict and Louise Fletcher.
“Dead Wait “was directed by Tobe Hooper. PLOT – A con man searches for a valuable black pearl owned by a millionaire on a tropical island. The bigwig swallows the prize and the swindler is out to get it at all costs. A voodoo priestess has other ideas. The end result is the con man getting conned out of his life. James Remar is the unlucky con man, John Rhys Davies is the rich man and Whoopi Goldberg weilds the voodoo magic.
“The Reluctant Vampire” was directed by Elliot Silverstein. PLOT – Surprising how few vampires are featured in this series but, this episode features one. This story is played for laughs as a vampire takes on the night time security at a blood bank. The operator of the bank learns the supply is getting sucked dry and convinces the fanged fiend to get his blood the old fashioned way. Malcolm McDowell is the vampire Donald Longtooth and George Wendt is the blood bank manager.
“Easel Kill ‘Ya” was directed by John Harrison. PLOT – An artist running out of inspiration finds it when he meets a macabre painter who draws him into the brutality of murder as art. William Atherton plays the mentor to Tim Roth’s protégé.
“Undertaking Palor” (sic) was directed by Michael Thau. PLOT – A team of boys brave up to enter a mortuary to look at the dead. What they learn is a plot by the mortician and a pharmacist to poison the town people in order to keep their business thriving. What ensues is the boy’s just as wicked plot to undermine the scheme. John Glover is the maniacal mortician (pictured left).
“Mournin’ Mess” was directed by Manny Coto. PLOT – A sleazy reporter investigates the murder of several homeless people and learns that all leads in the case end up at the “Grateful Homeless Outcasts and Unwanted Layaway Society”, aka G.H.O.U.L.S. He learns the hard way (there is no other way in this series) that the victims were actually meals for the GHOULS because that is what they are. Steven Weber is the reporting fool who stumbles into this mess. Hmmm, what’s for lunch (picture below) ?
“Split Second” was directed by Russell Mulcahy. PLOT – In this one a barmaid is able to land a sturdy lumberjack as her husband. He, of course, is filled with blind paranoia as he suspects his colleagues of ravishing her. Well, the axes and chainsaws start a flailing and someone ends up getting hurt or worse by story’s end. Brion James and Michelle Johnson play the newlyweds or newlydeads as it were.
“Deadline” was directed by Walter Hill. PLOT – A struggling alcoholic newsman is out to set his life straight and gets lucky by having a fling with a fine young lady. He is told that the kind of scoop that will reenergize his career is a murder case. So he creates one using the only victim he can get his hands on – his lady friend played by Marg Helgenberger
“Spoiled” was directed by Andy Wolk. PLOT – A soap opera loving housewife bored by her scientist husband always working on his top secret experiments, begins an affair with the cable guy but she doesn’t count on her husband making them part of his experiment. What whacked out experiment can that be you ask? They lost their heads over each other and wanted each other’s bodies all the time so he switched their heads on to the opposite body for them. Faye Grant and Anthony LaPaglia are the crazed lovers and Alan Rachins is the vengeful husband.
“Yellow” was directed by Robert Zemeckis. PLOT – This is quite a different episode than most. A general’s military son is drawn out as a coward and called “yellow” and a disgrace. He ends up in front of a firing squad. His father promises his boy that if the lad faces his final days with grace and honor he will put blanks into the rifles used to execute him and he can fake his death. Of course, viewers are to believe the ruse will work until it doesn’t. Kirk Douglas is the father and Eric Douglas is the son. Dan Aykroyd and Lance Henriksen are part of the execution detail.
“HaHAHAHAAA! I see you made through all that alive; that’s too bad! I’m rolling over in my grave that we can reminisce about it all. I can’t shed a tear though because I’m just a dry bag of bones. Seasons Four & Five coming up next week, so make sure you drag your carcasses back here or I send an ax murderer after you!