Tales from the Crypt: Season 2 – Episode 17
My Brother’s Keeper (First aired: July 24, 1990)
Conjoined twins Frank and Eddie (played by Timothy Stack and Jonathon Stark respectively) are joined at the ass and the only operation that will be able to separate them gives them each a 50/50 chance of survival. While Frank is hesitant to sign, Eddie seems to go to any length to try and change his mind.
This episode to me has a lot of nostalgia to it. As another one of my favorites growing up I was immediately sucked back in as soon as I saw the opening with the two brothers driving around in a Ferrari. While it wasn’t quite as good as I remember it as a kid, it definitely still holds up today. So what was so great about this episode?
The best part of this episode is, hands down, the chemistry between the two leads. Frank and Eddie are the Odd Couple of Tales from the Crypt. Polar opposites in every way (Frank the timid and shy one, Eddie the loud and sleazy one.), these two are a complete blast to watch and play off each other perfectly. Of course it helps they are played by two very talented actors in Timothy Stack and Jonathon Stark, whose last names are so close you would think they were hired on that fact alone. It does beg the question why they wouldn’t hire two twins to play the role, but once the episode gets going, the thought doesn’t even occur to you anymore.
The writing is also great in this episode. There are lots of funny moments throughout (the sex scene was laugh out loud funny) and everything that comes out of Eddie’s mouth is worth a laugh. The love story is also well played out thanks in part to Jessica Harper’s performance as the shy and timid love interest of Frank’s. She plays her role perfectly, at first disgusted and then accepting of Frank’s “better half”. While her role is a bit overshadowed by that of the twins, she is still very interesting for what she is and is part of a twist I will admit, I completely forgot about and didn’t see coming. Though this might have more to do with how tired I was and didn’t pay much attention to the obvious clues throughout.
It isn’t without its flaws however. The problem with the episode is that it isn’t quite sure which direction it wants to go. It doesn’t go flat out comedy like For Crying Out Loud, but at the same time, it doesn’t go scary either. It kind of just sits there in the middle like no other episode before like it’s lost on which direction it wants to go. The ending is particularly confusing because, while there is nothing remotely scary going on, very chilling music is playing in the background. It just seems out of place and while I didn’t hate it, I was definitely wondering why they were playing it.
It certainly doesn’t kill the enjoyment I had with this one and at the end of the day, the writing and performances bring a shoddily directed piece to life and makes it a very entertaining watch.
Cryptkeeper wants to know if you are alone tonight. He does this while talking into the mirror so he can show that there is two of him. This kind of backfires on him when he gets scared of his own reflection. Which makes no sense since he has looked into mirrors countless times before, but oh well, can’t let logic get in the way of a good joke. He ends the episode by smashing the mirror, yet another mirror casualty at his hands. He’s going to end up with so much bad luck.
I think you will find it a twinning combination.
Blood and Gore
Some bloodied lips from the inevitable Siamese twin fight and a cleaver to the back that looks especially nasty. The stand out here though is when they show exactly how the twins are connected. A pulsating mound of flesh that I can’t even put into words to describe. It has to be seen to be believed.
When said mound of flesh is shown, so is our lead’s buttcheeks. We also get a dominatrix in a leather corset. Not my thing, but some people might like it.
Despite the out of place music at the end of the episode, this one is very tame.
Other interesting tidbits
Timothy Stack is likely best remembered by people as TV’s Tim Stack from My Name is Earl, though older people might remember him more from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. He’s been acting consistently since the early 80s appearing mostly in bit parts in various different TV shows. He appears as a character named Frank in a TV movie called My Brother’s Keeper. Not sure if there is a connection or if it’s merely a coincidence.
Jonathon Stark doesn’t have nearly as much acting work as his counterpart here, but does have a credit of creating the hit sitcom According To Jim. Horror fans probably remember him though for his role as Bill Cole in the original Fright Night, directed by he who shall not be named. We don’t need to ruin this review by his presence.
Jessica Harper, despite appearances, has no relation whatsoever to Geena Davis (seriously, she could pass for her twin sister, especially in this episode). Even though her acting career spans three decades, she has only made 40 appearances on film. Her most famous role is likely that of Daisy in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. While her acting career isn’t too stellar, she has found some success writing children’s CDs and books.
The director of this one, Peter Seaman, is also the writer of another episode in this season, For Cryin’ Out Loud, which is directed by the writer of this episode, Jeffery Price. These two have worked pretty much their entire career together helping write the screenplay of one of my favorite childhood movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and one of the most underrated movies of all time, Wild Wild West. I don’t care what people say, that movie is damn good fun, at least until the end. Where even I will admit it gets really, really, dumb.
If you look closely at the book Frank is reading at the end, it is called A Separate Peace. A very subtle joke that I didn’t catch at first.
While the directing in this one was suspect, the acting and writing came alive to help this one be a very entertaining episode. And with that we just have one more episode this season. What episode is it? It’s a secret…literally.
Next Writing: The Secret