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Tales from the Crypt Recap #24 “The Secret”

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Tales from the Crypt: Season 2 – Episode 18
The Secret (First aired: July 31, 1990)

Plot

An orphan is adopted by a rich couple who offer him all the sweets he can eat and toys he can play with. All the while they are harboring a dark secret that they are keeping from the boy. But the boy may very well have a secret of his own. And the matron who fostered the boy has a secret. As well as the butler who is watching Theodore. Why is everyone so secretive here? Really makes my job tough to not spoil anything.

Thoughts

Child actors are really hit or miss with me. I both really love them and enjoy anything that they put out (Fred Savage and Haley Joel Osment come to mind) or they are so grating to me that I lose any enjoyment in what I am watching because I am so irritated at a performance (just about any other child actor). This one really skated the line between the two as the child acting in this (Mike Simmrin), while really bad, didn’t really kill the experience I had with this episode. I was able to enjoy it for what it was; a predictable, twist-driven, yet somehow enjoyable twenty minutes. I don’t know what it was about it, but I didn’t outright hate this episode as much as I thought I was going to. Yes there were things that irritated me, but as a whole I was satisfied with what I saw. It’s not perfect, but episodes rarely are.

I have to warn you before I continue, while I try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, this is a very tough one to talk about without mentioning some of the twists. So if you are worried about the spoilers, stop reading now. But if you aren’t bothered by being spoiled by a tv show that is over 22 years old (maybe I should rethink the whole spoiler free thing), read on.

First I want to get the good out of the way here, most of which comes from our old friend Larry Drake. This is his second (and final) Crypt appearance and here he plays a complete contrast to his previous part as a killer Santa in And All Though The House. He plays the butler (Tobias) who ends up watching after young Theodore. He shows remarkable chemistry in his scenes often carrying the inexperienced Simmrin to a passable (i.e. less annoying). Larry Drake gives it his all here (like he does in all his performances) and really steals the show from the rest of the cast. I also have to mention the third act a bit as it definitely delivers in a great pay-off. Long before Twilight completely pussified vampires and werewolves, they were actually fucking awesome and this episode certainly shows them off in a great light (sort of, more on that in a bit). Sure the werewolf effects aren’t that great, but who cares when it is ripping out people’s throats! I sure as hell don’t and I’m all the more thankful in seeing them kick some ass again.

Speaking of great light, one of the things that seriously drove me crazy about this episode was the night scenes. When characters are inside, things are fine. Dimly light, low lighting, what you would expect. Once they travel outdoors at night though things go horribly wrong. For some strange reason, someone thought that when they were outside, just being dark wasn’t enough and all the night scenes are shot with a very annoying blue filter on them. Seriously, I feel like I’m watching an Eifel 65 video (If that’s too obscure, think Blue Man Group instead). This effect really took me out of the scenes and made the third act far less intimidating than it could have been (yes the third act was awesome, but without the filter, it would’ve been awesomesauce). This is also one of the more predictable episodes in the season, mostly due to the fact that the title and first act practically begs you to pay very close attention to all the subtleties of the episode. Considering subtlety wasn’t on the writers mind when they penned this one, this is a very bad thing. Once every hint came out I was able to pin point everything that would happen to the letter. Not a good thing when your episode big selling point is its shocking twist.

Still, I didn’t hate it. Yes, those filters were annoying. Yes, I could see everything coming a mile away. And yes, the kid was your typical annoying twerp you see in all shows like this. But there was a certain charm to this one I can’t deny. It wasn’t good, but it kept me entertained, which is more that can be said about other episodes. Recommended if only very slightly.

6/10

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Cryptkeeper Segment

Cryptkeeper is reading Oliver Twist complaining about the lack of “twist” in the story. When compared to this episode, Oliver Twist seems like the Usual Suspects when it comes to shocking endings. He ends by wearing the same coonskin hat Theodore wore throughout the episode and sitting next to a statue of a bald man that I feel like I should know for some reason, but it isn’t coming to me. Feel free to leave a comment if you know who it is so I may feel embarrassed for not knowing.

Punny Goodness

As one cow said to another as they headed off to slaughter…till next we MEAT!

Blood and Gore

He get a few ripped out necks thanks to our vampire and werewolf friends. It might look better if not for that damn filter.

Obligatory Nudity

Nothing to see here…move along.

Scare Factor

We have a cheap boo scare that like the episode itself I could see coming a mile away. Other than that this one isn’t too bad. The vampires might be a bit much for people new to horror.

Other interesting tidbits

Larry Drake I touched on a bit in my review for And All Though The House. Once again, I never watched L.A. Law (Which he won two Emmys for) so I was never overly exposed to him, but everything I have seen him in he has given 100% in. In addition to L.A. Law he is likely most famous for playing the psychotic Dr. Giggles in the movie…well, Dr. Giggles. He has also stars in the underrated (and long overdue for a review Cecil. *Hint hint*) Darkman. He is a terrific actor and I can’t think of one performance I haven’t liked him in.

Mike Simmrin is the child actor here. This was his first role and it shows with a very rocky performance. I can’t fault him too much though as I highly doubt I wouldn’t be able to perform on my first appearance. Why do you think I write and don’t do videos? I have the charisma of a doorknob. Anyway, he has only appeared in seven things including this with his most famous role being the live action Casper movie.

Grace Zabriskie plays the adopted mother Mrs. Colbert. She is a very gifted actress and really helps out with this one as the obviously evil mother. She is likely most remembered for her role as Sarah Palmer in the short lived cult-hit Twin Peaks, but she has appeared in a few blockbusters though-out her career such as The Grudge and Armageddon.

Michael Riva was the director of this one and with the exception of the stupid filters; he didn’t do too badly of a job. This was the last time he ever directed anything. While it is a name you may not be familiar with, he has helped work on quite a few major action films over the past decade as the Production Designer, including Iron Man 1 and 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-man, and the upcoming Django Unchained. Sadly, Django will be the last thing he worked on as he passed away earlier this year.

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Last Words

In the end I was entertained. It was my first thought when I finished up. Sure, it’s not the best of episodes, but it’s far from the worst and much better than Drake’s first episode (though he is nowhere near to blame for that). And hey, if you don’t pay too much attention you just might find yourself shocked by all the twists that happen.

This was also the season finale of season two. As far as season finales go, it’s kind of weak. Lower Berth (while a technically weaker episode) likely should’ve been the season finale due to the twist at the end, if not I definitely would’ve ended with Television Terror. A big name, great scares, intense blood, everything you can ask for in Crypt. My favorite this season was without a doubt Three’s A Crowd, everything from the acting, the directing, a very shocking twist, and a truly tragic sense of despair, this episode just floored me. Seriously if you haven’t seen that episode it is a must see. The worst has to be Four-Sided Triangle. It is only fitting as the worst episode of season one was the other Tom Holland directed dreck Lover Come Hack To Me. Holland aside, the worst is likely The Sacrifice; an attempted Hitchcock style drama with nothing in terms of heart and soul. Any other recommendations from this season? Television Terror, My Brother’s Keeper, The Ventriloquist’s Dummy, The Switch, all were great episodes in their own right and are must watch and For Cryin’ Out Loud and ‘Til Death being episode I enjoyed very much, but I can understand others not liking them. Biggest disappointment? Mute Witness To Murder definitely. I heard so many good things about it and it just completely underwhelmed me. The Thing From The Grave was also disappointing simply because of how wasted Miguel Ferrer was in it. So what were your thoughts on season two? What were your favorites? Any you disagree with me with? Feel free to leave your picks below.

Anyway, season three begins next week and be sure to look for my first movie review Demon Knight some time during this season. Take care all, see you next week.

Next Writing: Loved To Death

9 Responses to “Tales from the Crypt Recap #24 “The Secret””

  • Cristiona:

    I just watched Demon Knight last night, actually. Billy Zane was great.

    Also, wow. Eifel 65. There’s something I haven’t thought about in ages.

    • Keith:

      I have a confession in that I have not yet seen Demon Knight, yes despite being a fan of the Tales From The Crypt Series, I just don’t watch movies that often. I’ve heard nothing but great things though so I can’t wait to review it.

      I was hoping someone would get the Eifel 65 reference, but really words and jokes can’t do it justice. Just look at the screenshot! Is there any reason for that at all? Really?

      • Cristiona:

        Yeah, that’s excessively blue. It’s like someone did the modern blue-n-orange post processing on an already blue day-for-night shot. Or they were using a Smurf’s camera.

  • Do you write these reviews in advance? The reference to the ‘upcoming’ Django threw me.

    • Keith:

      Yes, I think this one was written in early December…I wrote a bunch before I asked Cecil to put them up to give myself time to get to the next ones…I have another coming up where I mention I wrote it a little after Christmas. I am aware Django came out and is doing exceptionally well, but I have yet to get to the theaters to see it. Working nights makes it very difficult to get to the movies.

  • Steve:

    I’m not sure you can call twin Peaks a short-lived series. It was two full seasons, a motion picture, two books, a direct-to-video film, a highly successful soundtrack, etc.
    Grace Zabriskie rocks, much like Larry Drake, in anything she does.
    However, I am surprised you didn’t mention her role in Galaxy of Terror.

  • Keith:

    The TV series was roughly 30 episodes which, by comparison to other shows, is fairly short-lived. I know it sprung out movies, books, and so on, but the TV show, which I was referring too, still didn’t last as long as people remembered it. Considering its popularity (as well as the success of the first season), it is really shocking it didn’t last as long as it did.

    I’m not quite into the obscure/cult movies as Cecil and I’m sure a majority of his fan base is, so if the movie isn’t as well known, I am likely not to notice or mention is. Though, looking at the films box art and reading the plot, it seems like something that is right of Cecil’s alley. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him review some day if he got some requests for it.

    • Steve:

      I have always believed that Twin peaks lost its viewership due to the audience becoming convinced they would never learn who actually killed Laura Palmer. The first season was a coup, but as the second dragged itself along, with one weird Lynchian event after another, think the audience just threw their hands in the air and walked. It has always surprised me that LOST didn’t suffer from this, as well, and that people didn’t become discontent until the season finale.

      I suppose I consider a series short-lived if it didn’t make an entire season, like, say, Firefly.

  • I do enjoy watching this yearly around the holiday season. It really is a fun movie to watch. Nothing really scary or even creepy about it but it has the qualities of a slasher mixed with alot of cheesy comedy. While this does nothing to really satisfy the fans of the original, it gave them something to chew for a bit. There are a total of 5 sequels in the franchise, but only the first 3 have continuity to the original story line. All the sequels really lacked the success the original found on video cassette. I suppose the franchise has somewhat of a cult following. I went years without seeing the rest of the sequels until they were released a few years ago as a triple set. The 3rd is OK, the 4th and 5th really are terrible. If you are looking for a good horror movie to watch this holiday season I recommend Black Christmas . If you want a good slasher I recommend the original Silent Night Deadly Night. If you want a good laugh with a little blood watch this, or at least skip to the point in the movie when the famous line is said by Ricky “Garbage Day”! Stay twisted everyone!

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