Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tales from the Crypt – The secret – review

Director: J. Michael Riva

First aired: 1990

Contains spoilers

When I looked at the uninspired Tales of the Third Dimension I accused it of being a low rent Tales from the Crypt. I have to thank Scott Harper who suggested that my description of the plot made the vampire section sound like this episode from Season 2 of the TV series of Tales from the Crypt.

Now, I had looked at several vampire episodes from the TV series but never realised this was one. It was floating out there, on YouTube actually, and it is not going to be a surprise therefore to discover that it is about a pair of vampires adopting a child who happens to be a werewolf (as that is the third dimension plot). Indeed it is so similar it is eerie!

Georgann Johnson as Miss Hagstead
It begins with Theodore (Mike Simmrin) sneaking around the orphanage at night as the authoritarian Miss Hagstead (Georgann Johnson) bemoans him to the nice Miss Heather (Stella Hall). Theodore is after food but to Miss Hagstead he is a problem. He is older than the other children (past the cute stage) and a bit of a problem child. He will occasionally disappear and then turn up covered in mud. They do not speak of his parents.

stuffing his face
However, as things come to pass, a couple – the Colberts (Grace Zabriskie and William Frankfather) – do decide to adopt him. They are clearly fabulously wealthy and bring him back to their museum of a house. He is primarily under the care of the butler, Tobias (Larry Drake), and is kept locked in his room. However his room is filled with toys and he is filled with sweets (every meal is made up of cakes and drinks are milkshakes). The Colberts work through the days, it seems.

Tobias and the boy develop a bond – and this leads to him trying to help the boy escape. For the Colberts are vampires and are making his blood as sweet as possible before they devour him. When he runs, his secret comes to light (to him as well, the implication being he had been ignorant of his nature to that point) as he turns into a werewolf, which kills the vampires.

fangs on show
The budget was clearly bigger than the Third Dimension had. We actually get to see the wolf, rather than a blur of fur and the episode felt classier. Gone are the faux-Lugosi accents and, instead, the Colberts are drawn as eccentric, indeed just plain old odd. Though the story isn’t much better the characterisation is and it just feels more rounded – due to better direction, acting, sets and effects. In short it didn’t feel as poor as the earlier film segment.

This isn’t, however, the best Tales from the Crypt episode. But it does deserve 5.5 out of 10. One wonders, however, if the team behind the earlier film ever realised that their creation had been borrowed and improved upon.

The imdb page is here.


Alex said...

This episode was based on a comic from the 50's, so maybe that's where the creators of the Third Dimension got the idea.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Good call Alex, I didn't know that