22nd Feb2014

Tales from the Crypt 2×07 – “The Sacrifice” Review

by Nathan Smith

Tales-From-The-Crypt

Original airdate – May 15th, 1990

There’s a reason I don’t usually remember the Tales From the Crypt episodes with no supernatural leanings – it’s because they’re bland. Look, every episode, you’ll find a single certainty: there’s going to be someone getting killed or someone deserving of some major cosmic comeuppance, and then they get their just desserts. It’s how Gaines structured the books. But taking away the supernatural element, makes damn sure that the whole reason for watching the show is gone; because there isn’t a monster that’s going to come back in the last act and take vengeance for the untimely death of the victim or victims in question. So, what you’re left with in the end, is just human cruelty without the comic book retribution that makes the death and gore so much easier to swallow. But the problem with a bland piece of toast is, it’s dry and so very hard to choke down.

And that succinctly sums up ‘The Sacrifice’ in a nutshell. It comes and it goes in twenty-seven minutes without ruffling feathers or causing a fuss. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the little twists and turns that makes up the last two acts, it would be a particularly unmemorable episode. As a matter of fact, I’d even watched the episode before, and completely forgotten how the plot moves along, except for the final frame. The direction is pretty flat and just devoid of flourish, which is a cardinal sin amongst in a one location set show, all of the action is in Fielding’s loft and it leaves the action boring, but moving all the same. I feel I should mention that its a shame I wasn’t over the moon about the direction, because Richard Greenberg is responsible for one of my favorite films as a kid, “Little Monsters.”

The episode is full of those tick-marks you’d find in a Lifetime Original Movie. You can check the marks off: Kevin Kilner doing exactly what he needs to as the hunky lothario, Kim Delaney as the sexpot wife who falls into bed so quickly with Kilner that it’s a wonder she could stand up on her two feet and Don Hood as the cliched Southern oilman who gives off such an unlikable air that he’s quickly offed within the first twelve minutes. The murder plot itself is actually pretty clever in itself but because there had to be a twist, they add a kink in the proceedings, sure with Michael Ironside, (classing up the episode as he always does with his iconic voice and poisonous charisma) involving the two lovebirds in a voyeurism/blackmail plot that feels like something DePalma would’ve done – hell, the camera catching a murder is straight up, Blow-Out or Rear Window. This flows right into a seemingly malicious plot where we see Delaney as the object of Ironside’s lecherous dealings. And frankly, it’s a little too mean-spirited, even for this show.

Because here’s the thing: All the conniving and backstabbing and murder is so very easy to digest if it’s a supernatural concept. Because people get their revenge, monsters stalk out of their graves and get satisfying bloody revenge. But here, it’s just awful people one upping each other to no personal satisfaction. Kilner commits suicide and then in another twist, we find out that old pals Delaney and Ironside are in on it the whole time and they get away with it. That’s it. Oh, and the parrot mimics the dying words of Sebastian Fielding as he falls to his death, and we hear this as the episode fades to black. And that’s all she wrote. No comeuppance, no nothing. It just ends with every moving too cleanly. It left me wanting more.

‘The Sacrifice’ finds itself in a season that’s starting to find itself storywise, a season that’s all about learning its beats and figuring out how to scare the hell out of its audience. And it will soon enough. But right now, Crypt needed terror. It didn’t need milquetoast. And that’s sadly what it got.

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