Good morning bats and gulls, Cryptkeeper Bubbawheat here once again for day 14 of our 31 Days of Tales From the Crypt, we’re almost halfway through and it’s time to check out one of the more unusual episodes. Mainly because it doesn’t really feature much horror or sex, but I wouldn’t know for sure as I have yet to make it to many season six episodes and don’t remember this one at all. But luckily our own Elwood Jones picked this one based on the lead actor, you can also find Elwood going back through the episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer when he’s not watching cult movies for his site From the Depths of DVD Hell or cult TV for his podcast TV Good, Sleep Bad. But for now it’s time to tape up your hands, put on your mouthguard, and step into the Pit.
Episode Title: The Pit
For one reason or another “Tales From The Crypt” never really took off here on the rain soaked shores of the UK, were it was relegated to filling late night TV schedules. Ironically its cartoon spin off “Tales From The Cryptkeeper” did take off thanks to the slew of kids originated horror shows at the time such as “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” all which essentially copied the “Tales From The Crypt” mould only with a kid friendly edge.
So what did I choose for my episode? Well when faced with such an impressive back catalogue, especially one which features more big name guest stars than “The Muppets” it was certainly a daunting task, but when I saw there was an episode staring “Marc Dacascos” I knew I had found my episode.
Here Dacascos stars as Felix Johnson a top level martial arts fighter currently engaged in a fierce rivalry with fellow fighter Aaron Scott since their last fight ended in a draw. Now the pair are offered the chance at a rematch by promotor Wayne Newton who envisions the pair capitalising on the heat of their rivalry by having a showdown inside a Steel Cage Death Match, but is everything what it seems?
Ok for those of you not familiar with Marc Dacascos, here is probably best known for his work a professional martial artist whose film credits include Drive, Crying Freeman aswell as France’s only Kung Fu movie “Brotherhood of the Wolf”. Needless to say it makes perfect sense for him to being playing a champion fighter here, that’s of course if your not like my “TV Good, Sleep Bad” co-host Daniel Lackey (The Nightmare Gallery) who knows Dacascos better for playing “The Chairman” on the TV cooking show “Iron Chef America”.
Anyhow “The Pit” is a random little episode for the series, seeing how it doesn’t contain any obvious horror elements while also randomly opening with the Crypt Keeper getting himself prepared to celebrate Christmas, his opening seeing him stringing up decoration while he also tries to hock his Christmas album to the viewer. Honestly I’m not sure why they felt that this story was the best one to go with for such a festive opening, especially when it opened up the potential for the Crypt Keeper to be doing something kung fu related but as always both the open and close are a lot of fun even if they don’t exactly fit with the story.
The story itself manages to combine elements of comedy and action well together with both fighters being managed by aggressive wives who both feel that their husband is the better fighter while willing to do whatever it takes to prove this as they continuously argue with each other. Felix and Aaron meanwhile share a mutual respect for each other and while they are keen to face each other again to find out who is the stronger fighter, it’s clear that neither of them are quite as prepared to go to the same extreme lengths to prove this as it seems their wives are.
The wives are constantly entertaining when they are on the screen as they play up the stereotypical trophy wife image more so when they both have about as much depth as a puddle. Debbe Dunning however is the real standout here as Aaron’s wife and it was fun to see here getting to play more than the pretty assistant role she was best known for playing as Heidi in “Home Improvement” and here she clearly relishes the chance to play a role requiring her to do more than standing in the background and looking pretty. Here she steals pretty much every scene she’s in while also having one of the best scenes of the episode in which she appears to be doing one armed pull ups while at the same time having an argument on the phone. I’ll leave it for you to discover what she is actually doing as the payoff was great.
I’m really not sure how this story ended up being made as an episode as there is no obvious horror element to the story outside of the ghoulish twist at the end of the episode which gives it a really fantastic ending. Elsewhere we do get some great fight scenes from Dacascos during his training sequence inside the cage which sees him battling several unnamed opponents and which seems like more of an excuse to showcase his martial arts skills which honestly I’m not going to complain about, especially when its someone as talented as Dacascos.
Despite the randomness this is still a fun episode and one which really rattles along from start to finish, while at the same time managing to cram a surprisingly large amount into its runtime so you feel it could have been extended into a feature had it not been used here. However if due to lack of actual horror this one might best be skipped by newcomers looking to discover what the fuss about the show is all about, while its reliance on the fight scenes might only further turn off some audiences. Dacascos fans meanwhile will have little trouble finding something to enjoy here.