Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tales from the Crypt – Comes the Dawn – season 6 – review (TV episode)

DVD setDirector: John Herzfeld

First aired: 1995

Contains spoilers

The astounding thing about this season 6 Tales from the Crypt episode, which I saw when it aired on Zone Horror, is the fact that it originally aired over a decade before the film of 30 Days of Night and, indeed, 9 years before the original 30 Days graphic novel. The episode itself was based on a story from The Haunt of Fear comic books and all that just goes to show there is little new in the world.

That’s not to say that this is the same as 30 Days of Night but the setting and over arching premise match.

Michael Ironside as Colonel BurrowsFollowing a moment with the crypt keeper (John Kassir) sitting around with a bikini clad blonde we cut to a bar in Alaska and the barkeeper, Mona (Susan Tyrell), looks a little perturbed when a man enters the bar. He is Colonel Burrows (Michael Ironside) and he asks for a bottle of schnapps and two glasses. Of course Michael Ironside has appeared on the blog before, having been a vampire in the Master’s of Horror episode The V Word and Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe. This time he faces the vampires rather than is one.

Bruce Payne as Sergeant ParkerThe reason he has asked for two glasses is because his employee Sergeant Parker (Bruce Payne) comes through the door with both their bags. Again Payne is no stranger to these pages. He was Billy’s manager in the wonderfully strange Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire and the circus owner, and vampire, in Howling 6: the Freaks. In this he plays a none too pleasant character who immediately starts upon the bar keeper due to her lack of teeth.

Susan Tyrell as MonaBurrows is conciliatory, but it is for a reason. He is looking for a guide who is not concerned with hunting permits and endangered species lists. To the barkeep that sounds like her ex, Jeri (Vivian Wu), a person who would fish with dynamite. It does sound like Jeri would be the one, except Mona turned Jeri in to the sheriff herself as she doesn’t like poachers. She picks up the phone to call the sheriff about the newcomers but it appears that Parker shoots her – I say appears as we don’t really see any violence in this, just indications that it is happening.

Vivian Wu as JeriThey find Jeri – and double check that she is who they are looking for, presumably due to her gender. Jeri is refusing to help until the Colonel notices her purple heart won in Iraq. He was there also and ordered the bombing that he believes saved her. When she discovers this she agrees to act as their guide. She takes them to an abandoned weather station where grizzly bears now roam.

Inside, having started an outside generator, she shows them a grizzly track. The Colonel leaves Jeri and Parker to set traps whilst he checks the perimeter. Jeri is all too aware that the Colonel will be selling the bear’s organs on the black market and how much they might bring. She attempts to seduce Parker but his loyalty is to the Colonel. As it happens, the Colonel has discovered a severed bear’s head – he knows something is afoot and demand the truth from Jeri.

bloody cocoonsShe gets away and takes out the generator. The hunters switch on flashlights and explore, and find a room with… well I don’t know what to be honest. They appeared to be bloody cocoons. Did they contain the vampires in dormant state? Were they food storage bags produced by the vampires? I honestly don’t know and the show didn’t see fit to explain at all – which is a bit frustrating. They discover the bags are rather sticky and back off.

little girl vampiresA little girl appears and says she is lost. Parker realises that her temperature is too cold and she turns, showing fangs. Jeri then reappears. Her job is now looking after the townsfolk, who I guess are all vampires (Mona does reappear later, guns don’t kill vampires). Jeri was injured by the bombing in Iraq and her blood is now poisonous to the vampires (a reference, perhaps, to Gulf War Syndrome). The Colonel bombed his own men and so, far from saving her as he believed, he injured her and killed many of her comrades.

a gaggle of vampsOne of the two men will get out to face Mona, stake her off camera and then realise that it is 10 AM and still dark – 2 months of darkness a smiling Jeri will say as she lets the goblin like vampires into the cabin, which is the irony of the episode title of course. Which of the two that may be I won’t spoil but the reason for spoiling the twist was to show exactly why the episode pre-empted the 30 Day franchise.

None of the performances are bad but the entire thing is a little lacking. Perhaps it was the lack of actual action or gore? Perhaps it was because the vampires actually did very little? Perhaps it was because the lore was hinted at and then avoided like a vampire avoids the sun? Indeed the only thing we really discovered was that sunlight can kill these vampires, but at the time when the show was set that didn’t matter. A shame, as this could have been really good and instead it falls below average. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page for the episode is here.


Véras said...

The episode 'Red Snow' of The Twilight Zone series, from 1985-86 season, had a similar idea as background scenario, but instead of Alaska it was set in Siberia.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Veras, there certainly was a similarity, my review of red snow is here

skeletontea said...

Something you didn't mention, is that the late Susan Tyrrell, who plays Mona, is playing, in terms of voice, demeanor, and clothing, her character Ramona Rickettes from Cry-Baby, a John Waters film that was probably Johnny Depp's first leading role, and made him a star (which is not what usually happens to actors in John Waters films).

She also played the Queen alongside Herve Villechaize (the midget from Fantasy Island) in Forbidden Zone. A film directed by Richard Elfman, brother of Danny Elfman.

In this film, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (originally led by Richard, who transferred leadership of the group to Danny around this time, as he got into film,) perform in the as well (with Danny portraying Satan). Danny later cut the name down to Oingo Boingo, then went on to compose the Simpsons theme, and the music for pretty much every Tim Burton movie.

Villechaize committed suicide shortly after being cast as Space Ghost's co-host in Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

skeletontea said...

Oh, somehow I forgot to mention in the previous comment, that Dannny Elfman also composed the theme to Tales from the Crypt. So, really, it all ties together. Shame I left that out.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers for all that Skeletontea - really interesting factoids :)

to be absolutely fair, as I have never seen Cry Baby (I am aware of it, my wife loves the film, but I just haven't seen it) I never made that connection.

Loving the Elfman facts :)