In 1989 HBO debuted Tales From the Crypt, a horror-anthology show with an unprecedented amount of tits, gore, budget, and bad puns. Based on a variety of titles from EC Comics, the episodes ranged from silly to creepy to horrible. And we’re going to review every single one of them.

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Lover Come Hack To Me (1.05)

“I want what my mother had! A perfect honeymoon!”

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A bride kills her groom for the hell of it. That’s it.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

This episode is directed by Tom Holland, but it’s clear this is Tom Holland director of The Langoliers, not Tom Holland director of Fright Night. Micheal McDowell, writer of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare before Christmas shit this uninspired teleplay out.



HOW IS IT?

Awful. Newlyweds Charles (a hunky gold-digger played by Stephen Shellen of The Stepfather) and Peggy (a nebbish mousey type played by a pre-fame Amanda Plummer) get lost in a thunderstorm on their way to their honeymoon destination, partly because it’s dark & rainy and partly because Peggy is a woman and can’t read maps. When he goes out to lift a fallen tree in the middle in the road, Charles sees that there’s a big creepy abandoned mansion right in front of him. The geography of the scene doesn’t really work (are they on a road, or the mansion’s drive-way?), but neither does Tom Holland anymore, so maybe there is justice in the world.

They go inside to find the phones don’t work! And the lights don’t work! And the suspense doesn’t work either because everything is shot flatly and without a hint of atmosphere. I imagine that somewhere in pre-production there was a communication break-down with the set decorator and “spooky old mansion” became “crack den”. Tip for aspiring filmmakers: garbage isn’t scary. The fair citizens of Wisborg weren’t afraid of Count Orlock’s castle because it was always a mess. This may seem like nit-picking, but when you have a 28 minute show to make, and a story where barely anything happens, and two unlikable characters with no chemistry whatsoever, you can’t afford to skimp on atmosphere. A foreboding sense of doom is all you have to keep the viewers from changing the channel.

So the Honeymooners go into the living room and see a lit fireplace with a Battle Ax hanging over it. Charles says that it reminds him of Peggy’s aunt because he’s the kind of character who has to remind you he’s an asshole with every line of dialog that comes out of his asshole mouth. Asshole Mouth would have probably made a good episode of Tales From the Crypt, actually. Anyway, they’re drying their clothes by the fire, showing off Stephen Shellen’s admittedly excellent ass, when Peggy confronts Charles, asking if he’s only really marrying her for her money. He uses the classic Saddam Hussein diversionary tactic of “Of course, I love you, let’s fuck!” and they go looking for a bedroom.



They scurry to the bedroom and while Charles lights a number of candles that would make Tommy Wiseau blush, Peggy heads to the bathroom to transform from a nebbish little mouse into a sexy little mouse. You can’t hide that nose. By the way, this transformation includes one of my favorite movie cliches, the tracking shot of the panties sliding up the legs. I always love that little race between the camera and panties, you always hope the camera gets to her nether-regions first, but it never does. So Peggy steps out all sexed up (you can tell because her hair is messy and her underwear is black) and rocks his world in one of the most gratuitous and interminable sex scenes ever seen on television. Just imagine a combination of every cliche sex scene ever, and you have it, give or take a shot of Antonio Bandereas’ spurs rolling across Selma Hayek’s ass. This fuckfest ends with a duel screaming orgasm that’s light on orgasm and very heavy on the screaming. Like “we’re pinned under a boulder on a mountain, can anyone hear us, oh God please help” style screaming. They even shatter the face of the grandfather clock downstairs. What I’m trying to say is, they consummated the FUCK out of their marriage.

In the pleasant after-glow of their mega-orgasm, Peggy makes a cryptic comment about how she knows they just made a baby, and they both fall asleep. Later, Charles wakes from this post-coitus nap and goes to the window to see Peggy, now looking like the wife of a astronaut in the 60’s, totally macking on some other dude. The two start fooling around on the couch, not even acknowledging that Charles is there! You don’t need a spinning top to know this is a dream, but for some reason he doesn’t. After some couchporkin’, the dream-couple go to sleep, and Peggy slinks over to the fireplace, grabs the battle axe and chops him into bits, screaming that she wants everything to stay perfect. When Peggy calls her dead lover Allen, Charles remembers that Allen was Peggy’s father’s name. He realizes he’s dreaming and wakes up, only to have Peggy kill him with a battle axe, screaming that she wants everything to stay perfect.

The next morning Peggy waves to her aunt (who’s picking her up from the mansion for some reason) and tells her how great everything went. Their conversation reveals that it’s their family tradition for the women to destroy their husbands with battle axes on their wedding night. To keep everything perfect. So that means this whole thing was planned from the start, which raises a lot of questions about the plot. Who knocked down the trees in the road? Do they really own a mansion solely to lose their virginity and murder their husbands? Why does the aunt have to pick her up the next morning? Who lit the fireplace? Why did I just waste half an hour on this piece of crap?

HOW EVIL ARE THE WOMEN?

Neil LaBute would be proud. Castration anxiety, thy name is Crypt. Even with all of Peggy’s cluelessness and female naiveté being an act, it was in act designed to trap and kill her newly-wed husband. The message is clear: marriage is a rotten institution designed by women to trap you into having kids and giving up your life. And even though you can tell they went to great lengths to make it seem like Charles deserved it, but you can’t make a revenge story where nothing is being avenged.

ALSO WORTH NOTING:

*Who’s to blame for this episode? While a lot of the blame falls upon Tom Holland for failing to find anything compelling within the story, a lot of the blame goes to the show’s format. Every Tales From the Crypt episode was based off of issues of EC’s five comics (Tales From the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, Crime SuspenStories and Shock SuspenStories), and it’s not always great material. As the series goes on, you’ll see more and more episodes that amount to little more than uninspired riffs on the same stories about gold-diggers and cheating wives.

*I tried for a “best thing since sliced husband” joke, but I couldn’t make it work. I think sliced bread humor is dead, and it kind of makes me sad.



WORST CRYPTKEEPER JOKE:

Other than the title, there’s actually no puns in this episode. The closest he gets is the alliterative phrase “Horror Hungry Humans”.

Rating:

D-

JOHN SAYS:

I would love to refute this evisceration, but yeah, this is pretty much terrible. Aside from the hilarious misogyny and awful plotting, this is a remarkably ugly episode, dark and poorly shot, and clearly constrained by the TV budget. It’s pretty clear they spent all the money this season on the good episodes and tried to sneak this one through on the cheap, adding some bad sex scenes to patch up the gaps. That said, if you’re going to do an erotic thriller, it’s probably best not to replace the femme fatale with the Amanda Plummer character from Fisher King. In the season’s last episode, they’ll make the tight budget work for them, but here, all you get is comically inept junk.


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