The adult Tales from the Crypt show doesn’t really need an introduction. It’s one of the most famous horror anthology shows in entertainment. Everyone knows how the show was based on the EC comics from the 50s and 60s and the stories were directly lifted from those comics. Personally, I have had some exposure to the show. I’ve watched a few of the more popular episodes and even saw the movie Bordello of Blood a few years ago on the Sci-Fi network when it was still the Sci-Fi network. Still, I have never seen this episode in particular, staring the great Tim Curry as a whole family of characters. How does one of the campiest actors around do in one of the campiest horror shows around? Let’s take a look. This is Death of Some Salesmen.
Ed Begley Jr plays Judd Campbell, a sleazy conman and salesman. He makes his money by basically selling phony grave plots to families who just lost their loved ones. Tim Curry plays the entire Brackett family, Judd’s newest mark. Unfortunately, this is one family who refuses to be swindled by any more salesmen.
FAIR WARNING: HBO’s Tales from the Crypt is an extremely ADULT SHOW. If you’re sensitive to blood, gore, and violence, DO NOT WATCH IT. However, if none of that bothers you, please, by all means, give the show a shot.
Anyway, what Tales does best is karma stories and this is actually a pretty good one. Judd is a great conman character done just right. Sure, you know he’s an asshole and you just want to see him get what’s coming to him. However, the situation he finds himself in makes him almost semi-sympathetic in a way. The hick family is written really well and you totally believe that they’re all different characters. (More on that in a second.) As a tale of suspense and a conman trying one last con, this was pretty well put together. Although, I will agree that the plot by the Brackett’s does have a few leaps of logic.
Tim Curry’s characters are almost perfect. Curry gives each of them a distinct enough personality and he uses his voice acting talent to make them sound completely different from his usual voice and accent. Though, honestly, the make-up work wasn’t all that great. They looked… subhuman, I guess? I don’t know, the skin for some reason didn’t look natural. Still, maybe subhuman was what the team was going for. Ed Begley Jr. also plays the conman asshole perfectly, though this isn’t much of a leap of acting for him as he seems to play the asshole a lot in his roles. We even get a guest spot from Yvonne De Carlo, otherwise known as Lily Munster from the Munsters. She does a good job for her 2 minutes of screen time.
Cryptie in the adult show is amazing beyond words. First, the decision to make him a puppet was very bold as most horror hosts are decidedly human. Still, that puppet is freaking awesome. I’ve seen from a few sources that the puppet was actually really hard work to maintain as they had multiple servos and gears in the head that would constantly overheat and start smoking. Nevertheless, all that work was worth it for one of the most expressive and downright frightening puppets on the market. John Kassir’s work as the voice is impeccable, sounding ancient and dusty yet full of macabre cheer. And I don’t care how much people complain about the puns, I’m a sucker for a good pun… I’m a sucker for the bad ones, too. The Cryptkeeper is full of malicious and macabre puns that, sure, can get repetitive sometimes but could still tickle the funny bone.
I highly recommend this episode to adults who are curious. It’s got good pacing, a good story, and fun characters. The gore isn’t TOO over the top, though it does get slightly gross in a couple of parts. Tim Curry is awesome in his triple play of parts and Ed plays the smarmy asshole perfectly. This is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in seeing a good karma story. Just remember: Never trust a conman. You never know what you’re really buying.