Tales from the Crypt “Dead Wait” (part 2 of 2)
Later, Red enters Duval’s house, finding a glass case with the aforementioned black pearl resting inside. Duval startles Red, telling him an alarm will go off if he gets too close to the case. They talk about the pearl for a while, and then Duval goes off to bed.
Outside, Red and Katrine talk, and flirt, and after a rather obvious bit of chess-based bantering (“red king takes the black queen”), we find them in Red’s bed rutting like crazed weasels. I’m not exaggerating, either. They damn near break the bed!
This is one of the benefits of having a show on HBO. You can just throw in as much nudity and violence as you damn well please, and this show certainly did.
To be fair though, the nudity and violence does sometimes hurt the episode if the director is someone who tends to let the story go by the wayside at times. Like, say, the director of this episode. I’ve always felt that Tobe Hooper was like a really good, solid basketball player who has one standout rookie season, and then is only good in fits and starts for the rest of his career.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the spectacular rookie season, but with the exception of Poltergeist (which Spielberg surely had tons of input into), Hooper as a director has been, at best, not entirely terrible (Salem’s Lot, Lifeforce, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, this episode), and at worst, quite terrible (pretty much everything else).
Back to the episode. Red and Katrine have a chat in bed, but I’ll be damned if I can remember any of it due to Vanity’s… Um, how do I say this without coming off as a total pig? She looks damn good naked! Yes, I think that will do just fine.
Red enlists her aid in stealing the black pearl, and since the EC comics were always morality tales at heart, she proves to be just as shady as Red, which is true for most couples in these types of stories. And also as in most of these types of stories, this guarantees a sticky end for both.
Later that night, Red is sleeping, but something is moving around next to him under the covers, and it’s not Vanity. He wakes and finds a not quite dead chicken in his bed. Turns out they do move around quite a bit after being decapitated. It’s a rather nice creepy moment.
Red freaks out, and Peligre is there, and she warns Red that Katrine will take his soul. Red doesn’t believe this, and tells her to take her chicken and get out.
Later, he finds Katrine, and learns that the rebels have taken over the island’s capital. The army is still in control of the airport, and is ordering everyone to evacuate.
Duval has arranged a convoy, and wants Red to go with Katrine and keep an eye on her. Oddly, he seems a bit more active than he was at the beginning of the episode. I’m not sure if they couldn’t find Duval’s cane or just forgot about it, but given we have about ten minutes to go, it really doesn’t matter.
Red and Katrine share a pointed look as Red leaves, and later that night, Katrine comes to Red to tell him that the black pearl is gone. Red goes to investigate, and corners Duval in his office, and finds him shoving money into a satchel.
Red demands the pearl, but Duval states, “I cannot, right at the moment, put my hands on it!” Which should give you some idea of where this is going, and believe me, folks, it’s not pretty.
After some back and forth, Red shoots the man dead.
Katrine enters, and it turns out the pearl isn’t in the satchel. But Red digs around and finds some balloons, which can mean only one thing: Duval put the pearl inside a balloon and swallowed the thing. Which means he’s about to go spelunking inside a dead man!
Red rips open Duval’s shirt, and there’s a very gross chest appliance showing the track marks the worms have been making on the guy.
Red cuts Duval’s chest open. Naturally, cutting a guy’s chest open is as easy as pie here, since this isn’t a medical drama. And then we get a nice close-up of the worms crawling around in the dead man’s guts.
Katrine wants Red to stop, because the worms spread through physical contact, but Red is adamant. He fishes around in Duval’s guts until he gets a hold of an intestine, and then he slices it open and takes out the balloon with the pearl. Say what you will about Tobe Hooper, but the man can do a pretty mean gross out scene.
As he does this, Katrine picks up Duval’s gun and tries to double cross Red, intending to kill him and take the pearl and all the money. Outside the house, Peligre has her very own Vanity voodoo doll. She pierces it through the gut with a big needle, which kills Katrine in a moment that’s a bit too anticlimactic for me.
I gotta say, at some point, Tobe Hooper lost his ability to film a suspenseful scene. I know he only had a half-hour to work with here, but even taking that into account, things feel remarkably rushed.
Take a look at one of his earlier works, even a crappy one like Eaten Alive, and then look at one of his later pieces, and tell me the man didn’t lose his mojo somewhere along the line.
Peligre enters and tells Red she isn’t interested in the pearl, but she is interested in helping him escape from the island. She leads him out, and eventually they’re making their way through the jungle, and arguing about the pearl.
They come to a village, and Peligre goes back to obsessing over Red’s hair. It turns out this is her home village, and after some discussion about a person’s spirit living in the head, and how special Red’s spirit must be, we get the final twist, which is…
Whoopi pulls out a machete and cuts his freaking head off!
It’s a good shot too, as she’s really aiming for the bleachers with her swing. Jason Voorhees would approve. Sure, the decapitated “head” looks pretty fake, but it’s a TV series from 1991. We’re lucky it looks this good!
Peligre takes the pearl and casually tosses it aside. She then picks up Red’s dislocated cranium and heads down to the village. The end.
The Cryptkeeper wraps things up by pretending to be a talk show host. And hey, look, Whoopi Goldberg is his guest! I believe this was the first time one of the show’s guest stars actually interacted with the Cryptkeeper. And the best part of this bit is when he tells her he loved her in “The Killer Purple”.
And Whoopi still has the machete! Also, she doesn’t take too kindly to the Cryptkeeper’s puns, and she fondles the machete while eyeing him. The Cryptkeeper looks scared, and that’s the end of the episode.
In summation, this was a pretty decent episode with one or two nice gross out moments, and a good twist at the end. None of the actors embarrass themselves, and while Hooper’s direction is mundane, at least he’s not trying to shoehorn pop psychology into things.
Next up, a little something with… taste.