Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tales from the Crypt – The Reluctant Vampire – review – TV Episode

Director: Elliot Silverstein

First Aired: 1991

Contains spoilers

Previously we have looked at a Tales From the Crypt vampire movie, Bordello of Blood but this was an episode from the long running series, in fact from season 3.

Despite its short length, this is actually much more together than the later film – thanks to a more than competent cast. It is also very much played for laughs, something you can tell in the first scenes when an alarm clock rings and a hand creeps out of a coffin towards false teeth in a bowl.

The owner of said hand, when he emerges from his fold away coffin, is Donald Longtooth (Malcolm McDowell). Donald is, in vampiric terms, a bit of a failure – as he admits to Leopold, his rat. He hates to kill but has found the perfect job – he is the night watchman in a blood bank.

When he arrives at work the creepy manager (George Wendt) is giving worker Sally (Sandra Dickinson) a hard time about low blood stocks and inconsistent records. With a flash of bravery he tackles the Manager, when it becomes clear that there is an act of sexual harassment going on – but soon backs down.

There is an on-running gag of the attraction that Donald and Sally feel for each other and the embarrassing appearance of fangs each time they hug, causing Donald to act distantly from her.

When he is alone he raids the blood, making himself a nice cocktail,

with a twist of lime. He goes to change the records but the manager has taken them home. Desperate he goes hunting, not for himself but to replenish stocks. He cannot bring himself to attack a little old lady walking her dog but, when a mugger tries for her and is defeated by a swift knee in the groin, he manages to drain the mugger – into a water cooler bottle.

From this he replenishes the stock in the blood bank and all seems well, except for the fact that Sally hugs him when she arrives back at work causing that embarrassing tooth problem again.

The police have found a body drained of blood and Det. Robinson (Paul Gleason) is stumped. Suddenly vampire hunter Van Helsing (Michael Berryman) appears and tells him that they have a vampire problem. He persuades the detective to show him the body. There is a mark in the neck, proving his theory. Robinson points out there is only one mark, surely fangs would leave two punctures. Perhaps the vampire has tooth decay, Van Helsing retorts. Robinson then questions how one creature can drink nine pints, perhaps he is large replies Van Helsing. The dismissive detective suggests they are looking for a “300 lb refugee from Castle Dracula with bad teeth.”

However, low blood stocks generally have led the manager to decide that the blood bank will let staff go at the end of the month. It is time for Donald to save the blood bank and take out some criminals at the same time. Suddenly the cops have a real problem and turn back to Van Helsing…

This is a pleasant way to while away around 25 - 30 minutes. The whole cast do well and the fact that the tongue is placed firmly tongue in cheek really works well.

We get little snippets of lore. Donald is hundreds of years old, he has to sleep on Carpathian earth. We see him shot by holy water at one point and that causes plumes of smoke to escape his body. Van Helsing certainly believes that a stake through the heart will do the trick in a slaying way. As for the bite of a vampire, when Donald finally bites Sally she exclaims “This is so sexy.”

The story is flanked by scenes of the Crypt Keeper (voice, John Kassir) practising being a vampire, that allows for some obvious quips.

All in all, this is to be recommended. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

One of my all-time favorite series, but I must admit that this is an episode I haven't seen. It appears I must start collecting the DVDs..

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey Mateo, nice to hear from you.