You know the drill. As we countdown to Halloween we offer some schlock and horror from HBO’s past. We are looking back at TALES FROM THE CRYPT. I wish we could be more detailed here but I’m not writing a book; these posts are accurate and just long enough. HBOWatch hopes you have fun going down memory lane with this show or maybe, discovering it for the first time. But, let’s get to it. We offer now a brief synopsis of each episode of seasons 4 and 5. So, enjoy all the groovy ghoulish fun!
Season Four began with a three episode block on June 27, 1992.
“None But The Lonely Heart” was directed by Tom Hanks. PLOT – To quote the Crypt Keeper on this on, he says this season’s premiere is about “a man who’s discovered that the fastest way to a woman’s heart is with a pickaxe.” It makes sense when you learn it involves yet another con artist out to bilk a wealthy dame out of her assets. Plus, it has quite a cast to pull it off: Treat Williams plays the con and Frances Sternhagen as his victim; Henry Gibson & Tom Hanks appear and Sugar Ray Leonard does his turn as a gravedigger.
“This’ll Kill Ya” was directed by Robert Longo. PLOT – A scientist is injected with an experimental virus that kills its host. Believing that he was double-crossed by his lab partners, he decides to get revenge and does so before he learns it was all a practical joke gone wrong. Dylan McDermott plays the pranked sap turned murderer. Sonia Braga and Cleavon Little are the tricksters and Mr. Little is the unlucky deceased seen here.
”On A Deadman’s Chest” was directed by William Friedkin. PLOT -This is another episode that I remember. In this tale a rock star gets a dragon tattoo on his chest that turns out to have the face of a woman that he despises on it. Not only does she get under his skin but on it too. The only thing to do is cut it off! Paul Hipp is the tainted rocker and Tia Carrere is the temptress on his flesh. Now, who would want to remove her off their body?.
“Séance” was directed by Gary Fleder. PLOT – Con artists getting their comeuppance is a common theme on this show. This time out a scheming couple wants to do in a big tycoon. Before they get the chance the bigwig dies accidentally. So, the cons fake a séance for the blind widow so that the deceased husband can tell her to give them the money. A big twist in the end as the séance works to well. The evil couple is played by Ben Cross and Cathy Moriarity and the tycoon by John Vernon; he’s seen here not looking so good.
“Beauty Rest” was directed by Stephen Hopkins. PLOT – Some ladies are so vain. This one is a case in point as a beauty queen keeps bumping off rivals to be the most glamorous. She kills one good looker to many as she is the last one standing to win a macabre contest called Miss Autopsy 1992! Mimi Rogers is the desperate damsel. A victim of her vanity is Kathy Ireland and Buck Henry also appears.
“What’s Cookin” was directed by Gilbert Adler. PLOT – A couple’s failing restaurant gets a huge boost when a drifter gives them a steak recipe to die for. People are raving it but, if they knew what or who they were eating they’d think twice. That’s right, the hot item on the menu is human flesh – and Meat Loaf (the performer) is the first course! Christopher Reeves and Bess Armstrong play the owners of the diner “FRED AND ERMA’S”; the neon sign out front is partially burnt out to read frEd aNd ErMA’S. Sorry, that struck me as funny.
“The New Arrival” was directed by Peter Medak. PLOT – A child psychologist attempts to boost his sagging radio show ratings by doing a series of episodes from the home of a strange woman who wants help for her deeply disturbed child. Oh, a mother’s love played out here by the creepy Zelda Rubenstein seeking advice by David Warner’s doctor. The catch here is that the new arrival is dead on arrival and just an unholy terror.
“Showdown” was directed by Richard Donnor. PLOT – A gunslinger of the Old West, named Billy, has a lot of notches in his belt for all the irritants he has taken down in the streets. Then there was the gunfight with a Texas Ranger. Holing up in a saloon after the confrontation Billy realizes something is wrong when modern tourists arrive. Just who won that duel? Neil Giuntoli is Billy and David Morse is the Texas Ranger.
“King of the Road” was directed by Tom Holland. PLOT – William H. Drake is a cocky drag racer who while out hot dogging it kidnaps a young lady. It is unfortunate that his victim is the daughter of a police officer and a former racer. This piece is more a criminal thriller piece than a horror and gore story as the two men duel it out in fast cars. It stars Raymond Barry as the officer and Brad Pitt as the young speed demon
“Maniac At Large” was directed by John Frankenheimer. PLOT – This tale offers a tinge of paranoia as a librarian becomes overly obsessed with a serial killer and believes that she is his next victim. But if she strikes first…but is she sure she suspects the right person? Blythe Danner is the librarian and both Clarence Thomas III and Adam Ant add to the story as viewers wonder just who is the maniac at large? Clearly its the guy on the right.
“Split Personality” was directed by Joel Silver. PLOT – Yet another inheritance scheme turned deadly plays out in this one. This one involves a set of lovely twins and the slimy con man out for their worth. His plot is to wine & dine each of them in turn. It is a tricky charade that he keeps up until the twins learn of his two-timing. The duo, played by actual twins Kristen Amber Citron and Jacqueline Alexandra Citron, settle their differences in the end by sharing their man thanks to a chainsaw right up the middle. Poor Joe Pesci ends up being the split personality.
“Strung Along” was directed by Kevin Yager. PLOT – Puppets and clowns seen under the right lighting has creeped out many a poor soul and it happens again as the accompanying picture proves. In this piece they seem to have minds of their own. Veteran actor Donald O’Connor plays a traditional puppeteer to Zach Galligan’s young upstart and animatronics puppeteer as they vie for who is best at the craft. An oddly played episode but a well acclaimed one.
“Werewolf Concerto” was directed by Steve Perry. PLOT – Very simply, a group of guests at a hotel suspect that one of them may be a werewolf. Are they right or just paranoid or is something else lurking? At a posh resort people are dying off from vicious attacks and a werewolf is soon hunted down. The twist at the end is that a vampire is also up to no good and we all know how well werewolves & vampires get along. Appearing in this episode are Timothy Dalton, Reginald VelJohnson, Dennis Farina, Charles Fleischer and Wolfgang Puck as himself. Plus, Andre Bustanoby and Beverly D’Angelo are the were and the vamp respectively. Here is a look at Wolfie morphing.
“Curiosity Killed” was directed by Elliot Silverstein. PLOT – Curiosity quite often gets us in trouble. Such is the case here as this propensity gets the better of a man who is offered a youth potion that he keeps from his wife. She gets the upper hand in the end, sort of, when she figures out the plan and takes the potion for herself. She guzzles so much plant-deprived potion that she gets youthful but not in the way suspected. Margot Kidder plays the wife and at show’s end she ends up a plant herself. What? Yeah, it is not a strong way to end the season.
Season Five began with a three episode block on October 2, 1993 placing the show in the Fall and closer to Halloween where it belongs.
“Death of Some Salesman” was directed by Gilbert Adler. PLOT – A shady cemetery plot salesman tries to scam the wrong family when he approaches a hillbilly family. It is so hard a scam to pull off that he even fanes love for the ugly daughter in order to seize the family’s money supposedly buried in the basement. The only thing buried there are the bones of past salesmen! Ed Begley Jr. is the scam artist and Tim Curry plays father, mother and daughter Brackett. Anyone recognize TIm Curry in the picture?
”As Ye Sow” was directed by Kyle MacLachlan. PLOT – Next is a story of jealousy raising its ugly head. Thinking his wife is cheating on him, a husband hires a detective and is lead to believe she is having an affair with the local priest. A number of named actors make this episode happen. Hector Elizondo is the hubby; Patsy Kensit is the wife; John Shea is the priest; Sam Waterston is the detective and Miguel Ferrer plays the hitman he hires. Oh yeah, the dick is in on driving the husband crazy.
“Forever Ambergris” was directed by Gary Fleder. PLOT – After playing second fiddle to an up-and-coming photographer named Isaac, a seasoned but washed-up combat photographer named Dalton cooks up a deadly scheme to take him out and get his wife whom he lusts for. Dalton takes Isaac to a war-torn place and sends Isaac in alone to be taken down by germ warfare still lingering. When back home Dalton consoles and beds the wife only to horribly learn that Isaac has sent a germ ridden package home. It’s a gory tale with Steve Buscemi (BOARDWALK EMPIRE) as Isaac and Roger Daltrey as Dalton.
“Food For Thought” was directed by Rodman Flender. PLOT – A heartless freak-show clown, being taught how to read minds by his beautiful mind-reading wife, goes off the deep end when he finds out she is in love with the show’s fire-eater. There’s nothing like terror in the sideshow tents! His wife leaves him after he kills her lover but, thanks to her, he can track her down by finding her thoughts. The twist in the end is that she has channeled her thoughts into the mind of a gorilla that kills the crazed clown. An odd piece played well by Ernie Hudson and Joan Chen as the mind linked spouses.
“People Who Live In Brass Hearses” was directed by Russell Mulcahy. PLOT – A small time criminal with the help of his slow-witted brother is out for revenge on the town’s ice cream man who sent him to prison years earlier. When they attempt to rob the ice cream warehouse they end up getting a double scoop of whup-ass. What is waiting for the DeLuca brothers played by Bill Paxton (BIG LOVE) and Brad Dourif? It turns the mild mannered ice cream man (Michael Lerner) is a demented killer who totes dead bodies in his merry little ice cream truck!
“Two For the Show” was directed by Kevin Hooks. PLOT – We find a couple in marital discord over the dinner table in this one. The argument escalates into a fight and a pair of scissors appears and she is killed by her husband Andy. A cop, Officer Fine, is assigned to investigate after screams are reported. An elaborate scheme to get rid of the body stuffed in a trunk ensues with Fine always close on the trail. Switched trunks while on a train confuses the matter and it turns out both trunks have dead women in them as the cop also killed his wife. It seems these wives were having an affair with each other and both husbands had the same plan. Officer Fine is played by Vincent Spano and Andy is played by David Paymer with Tracie Lords as his doomed wife. Here she is giving head!
“House of Horror” was directed by Bill Gale. PLOT – On Halloween weekend that year this tale was told. In it three fraternity pledges are challenged to get to the top floor of a “haunted” house as part of their initiation. Of course the house is rigged with some cheap horror thrills but, the gag goes too far when someone ends up missing. The instigator of the pledge prank, played by Kevin Dillon (ENTOURAGE), steps in to investigate only to learn the real horror of the house; it seems a sorority of gals, the Delta Omega Alphas or DOA’s, like to hack up and eat the frat boys one by one!
“Well Cooked Hams” was directed by Elliot Silverstein. PLOT – In a desperate attempt to spice up his act, a magician named Miles, kills his mentor and steals his mentor’s famed prop, “The Box of Death.” Of, course, Miles, personified by Billy Zane, learns the hard way why the prop box is given its name. Michael Sheen adds some moxie to this piece with his performance of the mentor who keeps on coming back from the dead to pass on the trick yet again.
“Creep Course” was directed by Jeffrey Boam. PLOT – A bookworm is tricked by a jock and their evil Egyptologist professor into becoming a virgin sacrifice for a long preserved mummy. How dumb do you got to be to get talked into something like that? What happens is the jock needs help with his grades so our young lady takes him to the professor who turns out to be a bit wacky. She gets locked into the tomb and our jock gets killed by an ancient potion. Just when you think the girl should be dead as well, she earns the love of the mummy because she reminds it of a lost love and together they take revenge on the professor. Jeffrey Jones is the loony professor who gets killed by the ancient hook device used to pull the brains out through the nose. The jock is Anthony Michael Hall and the spitting image of an old Egyptian queen is Nina Siemaszko. Don’t’ they make a lovely couple?
“Came The Dawn” was directed by Uli Edel. PLOT – When will people learn that hitchhiking is not a good idea? We find a female hitchhiker catching a ride with a seemingly timid man in this one. They seem to hit if off quite nicely, except for the nagging wife always in the other room. Well, he reveals a dark secret to her while they spend the night together at his cabin. This one offers a gruesome twist a la Psycho. Perry King is the man to Brooke Shields’ hitchhiker. Here is the episode’s title graphic.
“Oil’s Well That Ends Well” was directed by Paul Abascal PLOT – One more time with that con game gone wrong theme. Here a con artist and his girlfriend plan their next caper by tricking some Southern boys into thinking there is oil underneath a cemetery. The whole plot is to have the rubes turn over big bucks to get the oil tapped. The schemer, played by Lou Diamond Phillips is killed by his girl, Priscilla Presley but, not really has it was faked so that they can slip away easier with the money. The southern boys foil the plan by burying the body so she goes to the cemetery to rescue him. Freeing him she drags on one last cigarette before they escape and blows them to kingdom come because there really was oil underground.
“Half-Way Horrible” was directed by Gregory Widen. PLOT – Roger Lassen is a manufacturer who kills his friend by burying him alive in the South American jungle to finish the development of a chemical preservative. He’s haunted by the memories of the incident. The earnings will make him rich but he can’t get it past the FDA regulations. Soon his past returns and he starts seeing his dead friend everywhere he looks. A voodoo priest offers to help exorcise his dark side. The spell works ( it’s taking effect in the picture) but at the most horrible cost; only the evil side of him is taken care of. Clancy Brown stars as Roger but a number of notables also appear. They are Brian Wimmer, Costas Mandylor, Cheech Marin, Jon Tenney and Charles Martin Smith.
“Till Death Do We Part” was directed by Peter Iliff. PLOT – A young stud involved with a female mob boss begins an affair with a young waitress and when he gets caught and is ordered to kill her, all may or may not be what it seems to be. Damn, don’t you hate when that happens. John Stamos is the lad caught in the middle and Eileen Brennan is the mobster ordering the hit. The tables turn when the threatened waitress, played by Kate Vernon, wouldn’t bat an eye to kill rather than be killed and takes out her lover neat and nasty like.
“I’m just glad my ghouly groovies resusitated me and my show for this retrospective. Now if we could get some spooktacular comments about your favorite episodes that would be great! Come back for a look at Season 6 & 7 next week or Jacob and company may just go serial killer on you. WahhhaHaha!”