08th Jun2013

Tales from the Crypt 2×06 – “The Thing from the Grave” Review

by Nathan Smith

Original airdate – May 8, 1990

If there’s a single plot element that Tales from the Crypt has mined with varying success, it’s the jilted, jealous lover plotline. Someone wants someone, and somebody may already have that somebody, and add violence to that mix and you’ve got yourself a mixture that fits right on the series. But, if you were to go one step further and add zombies to that mix? Well you’d have a bona fide horror cocktail, albeit one that feels exactly as I’ve described it, mixed up.

It’s sad to knock it because there are some overall great parts working in flux but bumping up against each other almost as if they don’t know how to fit.  It doesn’t know what it wants to be. Because the horror element of the piece feels jammed in at the last minute and it really is, it happens right towards the end of the episode. Even the episodes that deal with zombies (like ‘Til Death) have some sort of zombie elements throughout. Here it’s shoehorned in, and doesn’t really offer any reason for the photographer to come back from the dead, other than eternal love, maybe.  They throw in some sort of hacky necklace and a promise to protect her, but there isn’t any mysticism attached to it but this isn’t explained outright and that’s a shame.

But the horror element is the only thing that feels amiss. It’s appropriately creepy and fulfills all the zombie action right at the end of the episode. And I would never ever complain about some zombie action, especially Miguel Ferrer fighting a zombie. Fred Dekker has always been a likeable writer-director and I’ve loved his work in film but his episodes just don’t stick my ribs. There’s a definite style to the episode he creates, including the “in media res” device where we start near the end and back up to see where we came from here. And what a cold opening there, the hero dies before we jump into the action. It certainly shows the willingness to toy with the pace and framing of the episodes.

Dekker directs (and writes) strongly, getting the right performances from all of the actors and giving them pathos beyond your standard “Crypt” character. Everyone knows their roles here. The actors have that distinct 90’s feel (as does the photography), like the heavyweight Miguel Ferrer playing the creep to a tee (a role he’ll always be good at) and Kyle Secor playing the role of the sympathetic photographer that falls for the wrong girl or Teri Hatcher playing the said object of everyone’s affection exactly the way she needs to, although to her credit, she doesn’t make her to be a ditz, rather she makes her a woman who knows what she wants. And their relationship has a sweet tint to it, which pretty much dooms it from jump street, but they make it work.

I wouldn’t find myself re-watching ‘The Thing from the Grave’ over and over again like I have many other episode on my season two “Tales” DVD. The thing is, it’s a more than serviceable episode, just not my favorite.

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