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Tales from the Crypt Recap #16 “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”


Tales from the Crypt: Season 2 – Episode 10
”The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” (First aired: June5, 1990)

Plot

A kid becomes inspired to become a ventriloquist after seeing the legendary Mr. Ingles (Don Rickles) perform his final show. 15 years later, the kid, now grown-up (Bobcat Goldthwait), bombs during an amateur night and seeks his mentor for help. In doing so, he discovers there was more to Mr. Ingles’s act than he thought.

Thoughts

Ventriloquist stories are hardly anything new. It seems that every genre has written its own story about a Ventriloquist/Puppeteer and his dummy. From Scarface, to Pinocchio, to The Great Gabbo, there have been hundreds to thousands of stories about Ventriloquists and their dummies from every genre imaginable. This would be Tales from the Crypt’s take on the old story. So, how does it compare to the rest of the pack?

You likely read the cast and immediately asked yourself that if they are going to go silly with this. After all, how can you cast two legends in comedy (Rickles and Goldthwait) and take it in a serious direction? Well, for the most part, that’s exactly what they did. Throughout most of this episode, it plays out that an older comedian had a tragic accident that kept him off stage for the rest of his life. Then, just when you think he is coming around for a young upstart, the young upstart ends up bombing, and we are back to a fairly sad tale about two people who have had their careers shattered… Then, the final act comes into play. To say this story does a complete 180 would be the understatement of the century. What was once playing out as a dark, sad tale, turns into slapstick hour that rivals a Three Stooges short. It seems to come out of nowhere and very suddenly, but it works.

The twist leading up to the ending is also worth mentioning, as it is definitely one of Tales from the Crypt’s better ones. There were signs pointing to an obvious twist that you could’ve seen coming a mile away, but then they throw a curve ball at you that, if I hadn’t seen this episode before, I definitely wouldn’t have seen coming. I’ll keep this short, however, since I don’t want to spoil anything, but it definitely matches the dark – silly tone of the episode perfectly.

There is one thing about this episode that is clear from the very beginning: the two stars are not professional actors. They are clearly having fun and giving it their all and are still fun to watch, but Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks they are not. In their defense, they never claimed to be great actors; they are comedians, and that is not the same thing. Once they do throw out the seriousness and begin doing what they do best (namely, insult each other and throw jokes around), they are a blast to watch.

While this episode is not the last dummy story that Crypt does, it is the one I remembered most from my childhood. Sure, it doesn’t have that silly vibe throughout that you’d expect from an episode starring Rickles and Goldthwait, but that’s what makes it a very good episode. When it finally does get silly, it is well worth casting these two. This one is definitely worth a watch.

8/10

Cryptkeeper Segment

The Cryptkeeper seems to be giving up his role as a pun spewing comedian in favor of becoming a Ventriloquist. But, the dummy doesn’t want to listen to his tale, so he promptly throws it into the fire, ending his career before it beings. Fear not! He apparently has second thoughts and brings back the dummy all charred and burned (which gave me Cage flashbacks from Wicker Man).

Punny Goodness

The name of the company in which The Cryptkeeper gets the puppet from is called Hacme Novelty. If that’s not bad enough, it is also located out of Battle Shriek, Michigan. Ugh.

Blood and Gore

We get a cleaver to the hand, a hole in a neck, and some very gross looking special effects. Very nice.

Obligatory Nudity

Nothing here, though a promoter does talk about big tits. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see them.

Scare Factor

The reason why puppet stories are so popular within the horror genre is to prey upon people’s natural fear of them. It’s a very common phobia, so there will be plenty of people scared by this one despite how silly it gets.

Other Interesting Tidbits

Don Rickles is a legend in the comedy business and regarded by many as the greatest insult comedian of all time. He is an influence for a lot of comedians (including Goldthwait himself), and if you haven’t seen any of his work outside of movies, drop what you are doing and seek him out (In particular, his stuff on the Dean Martin Roasts are classics). His character in this episode, Mr. Ingles, actually pays homage to one “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, who did the art in the original comic this story is based on.

I have loved Bobcat Goldthwait since I was first introduced to him in the Police Academy movies, specifically number 4, Citizens on Patrol. He later starred in the Married with Children rip-off, Unhappily Ever After (as a puppet rabbit, no less), where he met his now ex-fiancé, the lovely Nikki Cox. He is known in his roles for his trademark high- pitched voice and nervous ticks. While his acting work was certainly suspect, it is behind the director’s chair where he really shines, directing shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Man Show, as well as dark comedies like Shakes the Clown, World’s Greatest Dad, and the recent cult hit God Bless America. His character of Billy Goldman is also likely a reference to author/screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote the novel and later screenplay of another ventriloquist story, Magic.

Look for yet another cameo from director Richard Donner in the bar scene where he is talking to none other and Don Rickles’s daughter, Mindy.

Last Words

While it seems that Tom Holland can do no right with Tales from the Crypt, Richard Donner can do no wrong. This is another great one from the man and is a massive step up from the previous disaster. Both men have one more episode left down the road. Why do I have a feeling we will have a repeat of this situation?

Next Writing: “Judy, You Are Not Yourself Today”

10 Responses to “Tales from the Crypt Recap #16 “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy””

  • Keith:

    Ugh, Youtube has yanked the full episodes the one guy (Popcornmission) was posting…so I can only link this one into parts…I’ll keep searching to see if I can find the full episode somewhere, but for now here are the three parts…

    http://youtu.be/UCYDs6gR98A

    http://youtu.be/qWgiOK55QYE

    http://youtu.be/F-MCc1-31xE

  • Ed:

    Cool stuff, this is one of my favorite episodes.

    • Keith:

      It’s definitely a great episode and one of my favorites of the season. I probably should of rated it a 9/10, but I think I was having an “I’m going to be strict” kind of day.

  • Cristiona:

    Unhappily Ever After may have been a ripoff, but I still thought it was funny as hell.

    • Keith:

      Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable show. But it was shameless with how much it borrowed from Married…with Children. It did have it’s own niche though and was a much sillier approach to the concept, which in some respects made the show funnier. As a whole, it still pales in comparison to Married, but I’m also bias since Married is my favorite sitcom of all time lol

      • Cristiona:

        I think it was how Unhappily had about 5 extras that they just rotated around to fill various roles. Also, they had Father Guido Sarducci as a guest star. He’s no Sam Kinnison, but still… Father Guido!

    • Cecil:

      Once they got past the trying to be like Married with Children it took on a life of its own and became a genuinely good show. I wish it was on DVD I would love to see them again.

  • Jack Dazzle:

    This episode forever holds a place in my heart. I remember being scared shirtless. I watch it now and laugh my ass off. Kind of reminds me of the men who live in brass hearses with how silly the twist is.

    • Keith:

      Damn, I forgot about Brass Hearses…from what I remember it was a great episode with a fantastic twist (and very silly) at the end. Gonna be a while until I review that one though since its season 5.

      Still as far as great twists in Tales, in my eyes, nothing tops Top Billing. That twist floored me and one I can honestly say I never saw coming.

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