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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top 10 Tales from the Crypt Episodes

10) Four-Sided Triangle
Patricia Arquette plays Mary Jo, a mentally challenged young woman that's being blackmailed by an old couple into working at their farm while they let her live there. The problem is that the old man is a creeper that wants Mary Jo in the sack. The old woman is suspicious of his intentions, while Mary Jo falls in love with a scarecrow in the cornfield that she believes is alive. Things aren't exactly as they seem in this cleverly ambiguous episode. Mary Jo's midnight rendezvous provide good atmosphere in this tale that keeps you guessing and Arquette is always a pleasure to watch.

9) Mournin' Mess
A sleazy reporter looks into an odd homeless society that centers around a graveyard. A solid performance by Steven Weber keeps you invested in the mystery of the homeless serial killer and the Grateful Homeless Society. The reveal of what's really going on is actually a wee bit scary, which is something Tales was always lacking in. Look for it in the very hit or miss third season.

8) Cutting Cards

Short but sweet episode starring Lance Henriksen and Kevin Tighe as two high-rolling rival gamblers. They want each other out of town for good, so they play a little Russian Roulette, which leads to an innocent game of chop poker! What is chop poker? For every hand lost, they lose a finger! The insane hatred between the two characters fuels the sociopathic and masochistic energy. Not to be missed!

7) Yellow
Robert Zemeckis directed this WWI episode starring Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd and Lance Henriksen once again! Kirk plays a military general whose son is a lieutenant accused of being 'yellow' or a coward. What's a proud general who's fixated on his reputation to do? How far will his punishing of his son go? The high suspense of the last five minutes will keep you on the edge of your seat. This episode is also of note for being longer than the other episodes of Tales from the Crypt. The 39 minute runtime pays off as Yellow has classier character development than your average episode.

6) People Who Live in Brass Hearses
A seething ex-con (Bill Paxton) plans a robbery to get back at a former employer. Brad Dourif plays his retarded brother that aims to help him, but just might fuck things up in the process. Great actors do wonders for stories about relationships and there's no exception here. Things don't go as planned at the ice cream warehouse they try to heist. Blood begins being spilled as the brothers scramble for stolen cash any way they can. The brothers soon get in over their heads and pay the price for a sibling scorned.

5) Split Personality
Essential viewing for any fan of Joe Pesci. He is in top form as a con-artist who tries to con two sexy twins and gets more than he bargained for. There's a twist that culminates in one of the more gruesome Tales deaths and the ride getting there is hilarious and deserving of multiple watches.

4) The Man Who Was Death
William Sadler carries this one all by himself. A prison executioner is fired when capital punishment is outlawed, so he takes the law into his own bloody hands. Is he a hero ridding the world of scum or one of them? Watch it for perhaps the greatest performance and comeuppance of any Tales from the Crypt episode.

3) Showdown
A treatise on the afterlife that happens to take place in the deadly old west. This ghostly tale is expertly penned by master filmmaker Frank Darabont of The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist fame. A man who knows how to escape death, like few do, learns to accept his fate. The four horsemen are always clomping their way closer and closer to each of us everyday, and maybe that's not such a scary thing after all. Showdown smartly turns the tables on the viewer. Just when we think this foreboding episode is about one thing, it's about another. It's not about gore or a bastard getting what he deserves, for once.

2) Split Second
This Tales is the greatest kind of guilty pleasure. Jealousy, revenge, gore, adultery and Michelle Johnson are red hot in an episode that indulges the way more episodes should have. An ex-hooker craves adventure, no matter who she has to use along the way. This one doesn't end well for her and her jealous, psychopathic new husband Dixon. It was hard not choosing this as the absolute best episode. You owe to yourself to see it if you really are a fan of exploitation.

1) Maniac at Large
So this might not be the one most would choose, but the ramping up paranoia, the score and most importantly the twist are all perfect if you ask moi. If you see the twist coming, I feel sorry for you, but it's still enjoyable after knowing it because it's just so damn scary. This is really the only episode in the entire series that I'd say actually scared me. Just when you least expect it, one seemingly harmless character becomes terrifying. That's what this episode does so well! In a genre where you are trained to suspect everybody, catching the viewer off-guard is truly a tough feat. Even most full-length movies can't do it. As Jim Morrison said, "There's a killer on the road. His brain is squirming like a toad." But whose brain is the most dangerous? It's a pleasure to have  my brain toyed with by "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Birdman of Alcatraz" director John Frankenheimer, in this fourth season standout.


  1. Yellow i.m.o. is the best well acted episode. Such a great ending to.

  2. Yellow is definitely great! You can sort of see the ending coming a little ways beforehand, but it's surprisingly effective.

  3. Mega thank you - these lists really help us "time-crunch" losers!

  4. No problem! Thanks for the comment and keep visiting for more top 10 lists of anthology shows!