Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Tales of the Third Dimension – review

Director: Thom McIntyre (vampire segment)

Release date: 1984

Contains spoilers

A portmanteau film from the early 80s, with a most uninspired and almost puerile name, this really was a low rent Tales from the Crypt. Instead of the Cryptkeeper we have a puppet host of a decomposing corpse who calls himself Igor (but pronounces it eye-gor). The delivery of the unnamed vocal talent is staccato and the jokes flat. Though, perhaps not as flat as the jokes delivered by the puppet vultures – I kid you not.

Of course a good wraparound is desirable but not necessary, so long as the film segments are good. The vampire segment is first up and so we’ll get to “Young Blood”, as it is called, in just a moment. However I’ll just mention that the second segment, Guardians, is interesting and lacks a supernatural element and the last segment, Visions of Sugar Plums, worked the best and is a tale of a grandma gone psychotic, told with black humour and has a Santa Claus intervention.

Miss Marquette and Dudley
Here, however, it is Young Blood that concerns us and, unfortunately, it is the weakest segment that relies on viewer familiarity with worn tropes to carry itself. It begins with Miss Marquette (Fran Taylor) leaving an office building followed by Dudley (Kevin Campbell). Dudley is less than happy, Marquette (apparently his boss) has agreed to see a couple about adoption at their home and out of office hours – something that is against protocol. She can’t tell him why she agreed, it was just something about the client’s voice. They arrive at night, at a ramshackle mansion, wolves howl and bats fly overhead.

The Count and Countess
They are greeted by the Count (Robert Bloodworth) and Countess (Kate Hunter) – both with their best faux-Lugosi accents. They want a child – either gender so long as it is healthy and want the agents to cut through any red tape. Miss Marquette is most willing, somewhat taken by the Count it seems. Dudley is less sure. After we get a name gag “‘Mr?’ ‘Count…’ ‘Mr Count’” that would years later be used in Young Dracula, the Count offers to prove their suitability for parenthood. The Countess telepathically summons four kids who are already with them.

the problem child
Time passes and Miss Marquette is going to pick up the young man who will be placed with the Count and Countess. Dudley has found him but warns her that he has a reputation as a problem child. She takes him anyway. He seems like a smart young man and is taken to his new bedroom whilst Miss Marquette is given her reward – a draining by the Count. The Count then goes upstairs to hear the Countess reading her new ward the story of Vladimir (a story, the Count suggests, which would give a child nightmares). He was unable to glean why the child is deemed a problem from Miss Marquette's mind.

fangs on show
And here I spoil the punchline but, you know what, the segment is such fluff that it doesn’t matter. The boy starts growling and leaps under his bedclothes (we have seen that he seems unusually hairy). As the Count pulls the sheet away we get a flash of fur (no clear shot is given) as the werewolf boy attacks. By the time he returns to human shape the vampires are both dead. In the morning Dudley picks him up; the boy is his son.

drained dry
A comment from Igor telling us that a vampire doesn’t stand a chance against a werewolf and that’s it. The segment was played for comedy value, there was no real depth to it and it is over and done with in a flash. The accents underscored how clichéd the whole thing was and that’s sad because there was a kernel of an idea that, in the right hands, could have been worthwhile. All in all this segment is only worth 3 out of 10 (the wrap-around would get less and the other two segments more).

The imdb page is here.


Alex said...

Couldn't even finish this one, bored me to much. The zombie puppet looked neat though.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

As I said in the review, I did like the last story but I can see why you'd get bored

Scott Harper said...

Sounds almost exactly like the 1990 Tales From The Crypt episode The Secret with Larry Drake.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Scott, thanks for the comment - they're always appreciated. I'm not familiar with that episode (and I assume you are talking about the Visions of Sugar Plums section of this).

The description at IMDb makes me think they're not too similar (though difficult to tell with the very brief description I gave, I realise).

In this Grandma is looking after the kids while the parents go to Hawaii. The inference is her meds run out and she grows stranger and stranger. The intervention is by the real Santa Claus ;)

Scott Harper said...

No I was talking about Young Blood. The Sectet deals with a guy taking a young boy to live with a couple who turn out to be vampires. Boy turns out to be a werewolf, eats the vampires. Pretty sure is based on an old Tales From The Crypt or Haunt of Fear comic story. Going off memory. Haven't seen the episode since 1990.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Scott - I got a little confused as Drake played Santa in another episode.

Having read the Secret's storyline you are quite correct - and I haven't seen it!!! Must get hold of it for the blog :)