Ezra Thorntonberry is a mean, stingy, funeral home owner who looks for any way he can to save a dollar. But when his nephew comes to his home looking for a place to stay, he finds he can no longer save as well as he once did and takes his anger out on what he believes is the source of his woes; his nephew.
This one takes a different route than all the other Crypt episodes up to this point by being the first episode to feature a predominantly black cast. Because of this, it has more of a vibe from the movie Tales From The Hood as opposed to Crypt. Of course, that is certainly not a bad thing as Hood kicks all kinds of ass. I may even tackle that movie someday in my reviews as it is one of my favorite anthology movies out there. So suffice to say, I most certainly enjoyed this episode quite a bit.
A large part of that is just how well played the two leads are in this. Moses Gunn is perfect in the role of the abusive Uncle Ezra. He completely takes over every scene in the show with his vile, penny-pinching attitude. He is a blast to hate and you watch the whole episode just waiting for him to get what is eventually coming to him. Of course, if there wasn’t a sympathetic character to work off of, he wouldn’t be nearly as fun to watch. Enter Jon Clair playing the abused nephew Bobby. You feel for Bobby the moment to see him interact with his uncle for the first time and you know it won’t end well. He plays the victim very well which makes it all the more tragic when his uncle ridicules and strikes him. Both roles are masterfully played and it really sucks you into the story (take notes Tom Holland, this is how to do an abuse story).
I also have to mention the direction in this episode. There are some very cool shots that really brought most scenes to life with my favorites being when Ezra is walking around his house at night. It really sets the tone of the creepy, lonesome atmosphere with the impending doom that is about to follow. I won’t spoil anything here, but I love the shot of the stairs and the faucet, very well done. The atmosphere along with the rather creepy (at times) score makes this one a chilling experience.
However, there are a few problems with this. For starters, the score is inconsistent. It keeps going from very chilling to silly organ music at inappropriate times. I understand the organ music is the same that’s played at the funeral segments, but there are times it just seems out of place. This one also seems to have a fairly rushed ending (it spends a lot of time building it up) as much as I liked it. It feels like there should’ve been just one more scene to really make it perfect. But as it sits, it is still a great episode. Throw it on in the middle of watching Tales From The Hood (seriously, I can’t praise this movie enough) and enjoy.
The Cryptkeeper is playing a little hoops (Basketball for all you non-hip folks out there) using the skulls in his lair as the balls. He then tells us his favorite sport is playing a mortician. Okay, it’s not a sport but whatever, he’s also a talking skeleton, can’t take him too seriously. At the end he comments on how dumb the name Ezra is, can’t say I blame him.
Dead people like me make excellent point guards. When we can’t get off a shot, we simply pass…away that is!
Blood and Gore
This one made me squirm simply due to the realism of the blood. Lots of embalming going on here as well as a few cut off limbs (far less realistic than the embalming scenes though).
With a severe lack of woman in this episode, it should be no surprise of the lack of nudity. This episode wasn’t about that anyway.
The ending scene will definitely send chills up your spine, too bad it ends abruptly. There is also a cheap boo scare at one point though it’s very easy to see coming.
Other interesting tidbits
Moses Gunn is one of those actors that never seems to fail in a performance. He has been acting on film since the mid-60s (he was a stage actor before that) but didn’t get his real breakout role until 1971 when he starred as Bumpy Jonas in the classic blaxplotation film Shaft. He is an Emmy award winning actor for his role as Kintango in the epic mini-series Roots (he won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Single Performance). Sadly this was one of his last roles as he died just a few years later in 1993. A side note about his character in this episode is his constant use of using incorrect or reworded quotes from the bible. Bobby even calls him out on one in a pretty funny scene.
The other lead John Clair has not done much aside from this performance having only thirteen appearances thought-out movies and tv. It’s a shame because he was actually a decent actor in this and I would’ve liked to of seen him do more.
Teddy Wilson was the organ player in the episode. He has appeared in countless television shows in his career, but never really caught on to anything big. His biggest claim to fame is likely starring in the short lived sitcom That’s My Mama, a show I never heard of until now and the moment I saw the title I was just reminded of the MAD TV skit with Artie Lange called My White Mama (Don’t make me break my foot off in yo’ ass!). Teddy sadly died just a year after this episode aired in 1991.
Jack Sholder is in the director’s chair for this one. He is likely best known for directing Nightmare on Elm Street 2. A film widely remembered by its huge number of gay overtones in it. I remember seeing it when I was younger and enjoying it (the movie, not the gayness), but haven’t seen it in sometime so I can’t defend it properly right now, but I can say he was fantastic in directing this episode. A shame it’s his only one (and Holland gets three, go figure).
A very cool and serious story after a couple of silly ones, if only it didn’t end so prematurely it likely could’ve got a 10/10. Still as it is, it is a must see a nice step up from the previous one. Let’s keep the trend going Crypt, *sees the title of the next episode*, oh fuck me…
Next Writing: Korman’s Kalamity