Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tales from the Crypt Season 2 Review (Part 1)

Lets review from where we last left off boys and ghouls: Season one had all of six episodes and while still pretty good, was a bit clunky, a few dud episodes and one real classic. How does season 2 stack up? Well, lets take a look shall we?

Once again the intro is cut off from the episodes(grrr!)and plays when you first put the disc in. After the intro you get The Cryptkeeper hosting the main menu screen, or rather a redone keeper, who looks a bit on the cheap side. His jokes are also more putrid than usual, but it's still kinda cool. They had something like this on the season 1 disc, but it was a menu option and they didn't even show his face! Go to the episode select screen to hear even more terrible puns. No extras yet though. The last set had a whole extra discs worth, which was really just a half hour documentary about EC comics and picture stills. I opted out of the bonus disc to get the longer version of the documentary, released on its own, which I will probably review later. It might take me awhile, apparently with all the extras it's almost seven hours!

Okay, on to the rotted meat in this maggoty review sandwich. Season 2 has a whopping 18 episodes, the longest of the 7 seasons and 12 more than season one! Disc one has the first 6 episodes.

Episode 1: Dead Right
The first thing that makes this season so much better than the first, is the star power. Right off the bat we have an episode with Demi Moore and Jeffrey Tambor! Demi plays a secretary who goes to a psychic at the instance of a friend, who tells her that she will marry a large man who will die and leave her a large sum of money, but first she will get fired from her job. The losing her job thing comes true and she ends up working at a strip club where she meets Tambor in a nasty fat suit. She can't stand to even be near him (she actually throws up the first time they kiss!) but the psychic insists that he is the one who will die and leave her a large sum of money. She's right of course but not in the way Demi thinks...
Pretty good episode to open with. Tambor is awesome as always, but even with the fat suit I kept expecting him to say "Hey Now, it's Hank Kingsley! Help me Larry I married the girl from Striptease!" Some nice gore and a good twist, but it gets better from here. Oh and a bit of a gripe, this is supposed to be set in the 1950s, but Demi works in a sleazy strip joint! Were those even legal back then?

Episode 2: The Switch
So the Cryptkeeper is doing his usual shtick, this time while lifting weights made of bones and...holy shit is that Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a Tales from the Crypt t-shirt? Yes it is! On top of that Arnie actually directed this episode! Is this some kind of weird alternate universe I've just stumbled into? Well, no, I checked and Kate Hudson isn't my wife and I'm not living on a tropical island with monkey butlers for servants. Damn. Moving on...
This episode stars William Hickey as a rich old man trying to woo a much younger lady, who of course won't even go to first base with him because, well, he's a grody old man. Hickey is sad but has an idea: he will somehow turn himself into a much younger man to get the girl. So he goes to plastic surgeon who tells him he can't do freakin' miracles but sends him to a mad scientist played with campy glee by Roy Brocksmith. Brocksmith says he can turn him young again but it ends up costing Hickey his whole fortune. Now he can get the girl right? Right?!! What do you think? This episode is pretty good, although there's no gore and the ending kind of sucks. Hickey is one of my favorite character actors, and there's also Ian Abercrombie as his butler, who played Elaine's fussy boss Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld. ("I just want a decent pair of socks!") Of course since its directed by Arnie for some reason, there's lots of shots of buff shirtless guys lifting weights, if thats your thing.

Episode 3: Cutting Cards
Has anyone seen the movie Near Dark? Well you should, it rules. Stop reading this and go watch it now! Lance Henriksen, Jesse Hooker in the afore mentioned kick ass vampire movie and the dad in Pumpkinhead, stars as a gambler out to get a rival to take a hike out of his town. They decide to play a game of chance with dice to decide who goes but that doesn't work so they play Russian Roulette! What do they decide to do when that fails? Ever heard of chop poker? Neither have I but it looks quite painful.
Man, what a gory episode! Lots of squick, Henriksen and his crazy eyes, and a funny ending make this a winner.

Episode 4: 'Til Death
So theres this rich smuck who lives by a swamp in the deep south. Why does he live by a swamp in the deep south? Because thats where he bought some land to build his future money making hotel thats why. Too bad its going to cost him millions to build because, say it with me Python fans, He lives in a bloody swamp! But theres a snooty rich girl he could con some money out of if he can get her to marry him. Maybe the voodoo priestess he spurned years ago could help him? Maybe asking for help from a voodoo priestess who's heart you broke is a bad idea, a very bad idea it turns out.
I don't know why but I really liked this one. Maybe it was the un-PC voodoo rituals, the horny rotting female zombie, or maybe just the pun "I'm burning with desire for you" (spouted by said rotting female zombie, now on fire) but this episode is another part of the awesomeness that makes up season 2.

Episode 5: Three's a Crowd
Most of the episodes so far have been good campy fun, made of awesomeness and win as they say on the Internets, but not particularity creepy. This is the first episode thats truly eerie and unsettling. Gavan O'Herlihy is excellent as a sad sack who suspects his hot wife is cheating on him with his best friend, who happens to be incredibly rich. His friend is actually very generous and invites them out to his cabins in the country for their honeymoon, but O'Herlihy is nothing but suspicious from the start, on top of being an alcoholic as it turns out. I won't spoil anymore.
This episode is a bit of a slow burn but very unsettling and almost dream like in places. Plus O'Herlihy is excellent, he really should be in more movies. The best part of the episode is the ending, wonderfully warped! I almost didn't want this one to end and the Cryptkeeper's outro kind of ruined the atmosphere with his silly puns.
This is the best one yet, hopefully the episodes on the next disc will be as good...wait theres one more to watch.

Episode 6: The Thing from the Grave
This is kind of a generic episode, you can tell from the title. The Cryptkeeper even says as much in the opening! However, it does have Teri Hatcher in her underwear tied to a bed, so at least theres that.
Hatcher plays a hot model who's dating her abusive jerk manager. A photographer falls for her and gives her the key to his apartment. When shes had enough of jerko she runs to him and they do the dirty deed. Too bad her manager is watching, too bad for photo boy who ends up six feet under with several bullet holes punched in him. You pretty much know whats going to happen right away and despite a cool looking zombie, this one falls kind of flat, especially after the awesomeness of the last episode. Teri Hatcher is hot though and in her underwear most of the time. Meh.

This is the season that's made a true fan out of me again, I can't wait to see more. How are these reviews going? Want me to stop and go back to just writing crappy poems? Anyone? Your input is much appreciated. Till the second part of Season 2 comes in, tah.

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