Out of all the episodes in seven seasons of Tales From the Crypt, this particular entry, ‘The Switch,’ feels less like an episode of the titular show and rather more like a twisted moral play. It’s a play about the vain and how changing yourself for someone isn’t necessarily the right nor best thing to do. If anything, the ending resembles something akin to “Gift of the Magi.” Most episodes are just desserts episodes as is this entry, but in this episode, it twists the formula in that it’s the good guy that gets it in the end (although he doesn’t die) and the rotten people that have it better off in the end (and they usually die).
The thing about this episode that differentiates itself from others, is that it isn’t particularly scary or violent, in fact it’s relatively bloodless other than a few scenes set in the mad scientists laboratory and no one dies throughout the entirety of the episode. There are moments throughout that still give it that Tales From the Crypt feel. The spooky castle that the scientist resides in, the dark and stormy nights and gruesome surgery, although more restraint is shown here than later episodes would, particularly ‘Doctor of Death.’ ’The Switch’ is particularly concerned with being a light-handed speech on vanity and especially in 1990, this was becoming more and more of a common thing. Although, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it holds up nowadays with it’s comments on how people feel the need to change themselves for love or money or both.
The plot for ‘The Switch’ is simple. An older man falls for a younger woman, but he doesn’t tell her he’s loaded. He wants to get her love the old-fashioned way. It’s actually quite nice because he could’ve been written as a real miser-y old man. But they didn’t. See, she wants a younger looking man. So, instead of plastic surgery, he’s recommended to a doctor versed in the way of transplants, and proceeds to switch all body parts from a younger stud type and placing it on himself. The real kicker is that the cost goes up everytime and he becomes handsome and poor, and Hans the transplantee becomes rich and old. But that’s all Linda wanted, the money. That’s mean-spirited but still feels right in the overall world of the show. The only thing that really does stink about the ending is that it does punish Carlton (when all he wanted was love) for his vain behavior and yet, Linda, the one who starts all of this gets her way and all the money she desires. That’s the real gutbuster of the ending and it is the biggest eff you ending in quite sometime (and Tales From the Crypt has some big shockers of endings). It’s a real bait and switch doozy.
The cast does each part they’re cast for, and they do it well. William Hickey (playing another role in a late-night anthology, albiet a different one) plays the rich man with loneliness quite well, and sells his ideas just fine. The problem with the characters, aside from Carlton and his butler Fulton and maybe Hans, is that they play their cliched characters. Kelly Preston as the gold-digger. Check. Late genre actor Roy Brocksmith as the mad scientist. Check. The episode has decent direction, but all the more distracting while you watch is the fact that the episode is directed by the former Terminator/Governator Arnold Schwarznegger. His direction is fine and services the tale well but it’s worth noting that he doesn’t appear in his tale (unlike later director Tom Hanks) but rather introduces the tale, which may be a first for any directors let alone guest stars!