Warner Bros. // 1992 // 376 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 25th, 2006
Gore x four.
Big-time directors. Recognizable faces. Blood and sinew. T & A. Werewolves. Vampires. Zombies. Gunslingers. Cannibals. Age-defying voodoo. It's all here -- and more -- in the fourth season of HBO's terror anthology.
Season four of Tales from the Crypt brings an eclectic batch of 14 stories, featuring samplings from pretty much every genre imaginable. Noir, comedy, western, straight horror, monster movie, this season is a smorgasbord. Here are some of the big names you'll find in these episodes: Tom Hanks, Joe Pesci, Beverly D'Angelo, Margot kidder, Christopher Reeve, Judd Nelson, Dylan McDermott, Tia Carrere, David Morse, and Brad Pitt. Oh, and who can forget Zach Galligan? (You know, the guy from Gremlins...I think.)
Three discs, 14 episodes.
* "None but the Lonely Heart"
Directed by Tom Hanks
Treat Williams stars as a con man who makes his scratch by bilking rich, old ladies out of their fortunes. His most recent target should set him up for life, but someone -- or something -- is onto him and his past sins are about to bite him in the ass.
More comical than horrifying, this tale packs in the gore, culminating in trademark ending. B+
* "This'll Kill Ya"
Directed by Robert Longo
An overbearing boss of a drug research firm (Dylan McDermott) pushes his team to develop a groundbreaking serum. But when his coworkers decide to creatively rebel, his violent tendencies are unleashed.
A straight-edged noir thriller, with a slick twist ending. B+
* "On a Deadman's Chest"
Directed by William Friedkin
A jealous rock star can't get his best friend's wife (Tia Carrere) out of his mind. And when a voodoo tattoo reveals what truly lurks in his soul, it pushes him over the edge.
The hardest of the episodes, this tale features lots of nudity and a messy -- though hollow (in more ways than one) -- ending. C+
Directed by Gary Fleder
Two crooks manipulate a wealthy man into a blackmail scheme, but the plan hits a snag. Now the con artists have to improvise and that means putting on a phony séance to retrieve their money. Unintended consequences ensue.
A fairly light-hearted romp (spiced up with some over-the-top bloodbaths). B
* "Beauty Rest"
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
When an unlucky actress (Mimi Rogers) finds out she's lost a modeling gig to her comely roommate (Kathy Ireland) she starts dishing out violence to finagle her way into the pageant. But all is not what it appears to be.
This one builds to a major reveal, and the ending is gleefully grim enough, but somewhat anticlimactic. Man, was Kathy Ireland hot back in the day. B
* "What's Cookin'"
Directed by Gilbert Adler
A hapless cook (Christopher Reeve) runs a flagging squid-only diner. A mysterious employee (Judd Nelson) presents a killer recipe for barbecue that gets the place hopping again -- but why is it so delicious?
Dark comedy through and through. That scene with Meat Loaf is a real mess, too. And always nice to see Christopher Reeve. A-
* "The New Arrival"
Directed by Peter Medak
A radio child psychologist, struggling in the ratings, and about to get the boot from management decides to take his show on the road and visit a strange old lady and her weirdo kid. But just how special are this kid's needs?
A nice little story with a nasty ending and a creepy performance by Zelda Rubenstein. B+
Directed by Richard Donner
When a notorious outlaw from the Wild West (Neil Gray Guintoli) finds himself in a dusty old town, his fate takes a turn from the bizarre: the residents are men he's killed.
This is my favorite episode of the season. While not straight horror, it is a good tale nonetheless and deftly directed by Donner. A
* "King of the Road"
Directed by Tom Holland
When a street punk (Brad Pitt) is determined to race against the legendary, but retired, Iceman, he'll do anything to land the deal -- even if it means holding the other man's daughter hostage.
And my least favorite episode. Pitt is a decent slimeball, but there's no twist and not much meat to the story. D+
* "Maniac at Large"
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Blythe Danner plays a skittish librarian freaking out over reports of a serial killer. And everyone's a suspect.
A decent little tale injected with more suspense than it deserved by Frankenheimer. Another name for the story could have been "Red Herring." B-
* "Split Personality"
Directed by Joel Silver
Joe Pesci stars as a con out for the perfect score. And he finds it in the form of two billionaire twins with a questionable past. Can he land the deal and end up a rich man married to two beautiful women? Or is his luck about to run out?
Vintage Tales from the Crypt: funny, gory and twisted. Beware the opening title art, though; it contains spoilers. A-
* "Strung Along"
Directed by Kevin Yagher
A retired, recluse puppeteer catches a big break when he's asked to perform for a major TV show. He brings on an ambitious apprentice (Zach Galligan), but someone has doubts about the gig: his puppet.
Another solid offering with probably the best twist of the bunch. A-
* "Werewolf Concerto"
Directed by Steve Perry
A whodunit starring a werewolf that's terrorizing a resort. The frantic manager (Dennis Farina) hires a hunter to track it down: but who's the werewolf? And who's the hunter? Timothy Dalton and Beverly D'Angelo star.
This Agatha Christie-like mystery is spiced up by the supernatural and Dalton is awesome. Pretty good. B+
* "Curiosity Killed"
Directed by Elliot Silverstein
Two elderly couples have discovered the secret to a youth potion, but one overbearing wife (Margot Kidder) can screw it up for everyone.
The final tale is a little odd -- and annoying. But the end is ridiculously over-the-top. B
These shows are transferred adequately, though there's nothing special about the quality. Grain is present throughout and the color saturation looks its age, but it's not nearly enough to distract. Ignore the worthless "Stars of Season Four" montage, the feature to check out is the commentary track on "What's Cookin'," featuring John Kassir hamming it up as the Cryptkeeper discussing the episode with writer Alan Katz and series historian Digby Diehl.
Tales from the Crypt remains one of my personal favorites. Humorous, messy, and always entertaining, these shows -- and this season -- are great fun.
Not guilty. (cackle cackle)
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 376 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary by the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir), Alan Katz, and Digby Diehl
* "Stars of Season 4" Montage