Hello kiddies, Cryptkeeper Bubbawheat joining you yet again for another round of our 31 Days of Tales From the Crypt, gather ’round the computer as our friend theVoid99 recounts the tale of the rocker’s woe. He can usually be found at his haunting grounds Surrender to the Void where he reviews movies of all shapes and sizes past and present, though usually past. Today he’s taking a look at possibly one of his favorite yet one of my least favorite episodes as what happens when the likes of a Yoko Ono takes on a more modern heavy metal band where Heavy D plays a voodoo priest who tattoos not fifteen men, but just one woman On a Deadman’s Chest.
Based on the EC horror comic The Haunt of Fear, On a Deadman’s Chest is an episode of the HBO horror series Tales from the Crypt which is the story of a rock star who gets a tattoo of a woman he hates where the tattoo would suddenly come to life and scare him. Directed by William Friedkin and teleplay by Larry Wilson, the episode plays into a man trying to get rid of the one thing that he believes is destroying his band. Starring Yul Vasquez, Sherrie Rose, Tia Carrere, Paul Hipp, Heavy D, Steve Jones, and Gregg Allman. On a Deadman’s Chest is a wild and terrifying episode of Tales from the Crypt.
The episode revolves around a singer for a popular hard rock band who has issues with his guitarist’s new wife as he fears she’ll break up the band. At the suggestion of a groupie, the vocalist Danny Darwin (Yul Vasquez) meets a mysterious tattoo artist who would make a tattoo of the woman he hates which he doesn’t know about as it starts to come to life where he tries to find ways to get rid of it. It’s an episode in which a man’s hatred for a woman and his friend’s newfound happiness drives him to do something drastic as it relates to this mysterious tattoo he receives. The script plays into Danny’s obsession with getting rid of Scarlett (Tia Carrere) whom he thinks will cause his band to break-up as he refuses to listen to the warning of the tattoo artist Farouche (Heavy D) who says that the tattoo he’s making is about what is under his skin and what is he thinking. Thus, it starts to get out of control as his emotions finally take its toll forcing him to do something thinking it will get rid of his problem.
William Friedkin’s direction is pretty simple for the way it plays into a rock singer dealing with the new wife in the band as he goes for some stylish shots in a few high angle crane shots while maintaining an intimacy for some of the concert scenes. Plus, there is an element of dark humor in the sequence where Danny gets his tattoo from Farouche as it is presented in a very gorgeous scenery shot by cinematographer Rick Bota. Things do intensify once Danny tries to get rid of the tattoo through plastic surgery but things don’t work as it becomes a moment of paranoia where Robert DeMaio’s editing help play into that air of suspense. Even as the mixture of Merl Saunders’ rock and electronic score and some gnarly special effects by Dean W. Miller help play to the climatic terror that Danny would go through. Even as there’s also a famous reference to one of Friedkin’s great films that is the name of the band Danny is leading. Overall, Friedkin creates a very fun and exhilarating episode about a man’s hatred coming back to haunt him.
The incredible cast includes appearances from Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones as a roadie and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band as the club owner while Heavy D is fantastic as the tattoo artist Farouche who sports an eye patch and has some mysterious things to say about his work as an artist. Sherrie Rose is superb as the groupie Vendetta who also dislikes Scarlett as she tries to get Danny to chill by suggesting him to go see Farouche because of the tattoo she has on her left breast. Paul Hipp is excellent as the guitarist Nick Bosch as a musician who wants a new life with Scarlett as he deals with Danny’s antagonist attitude as well as trying to do what is right for the band. Tia Carrere is amazing as Scarlett as Nick’s new wife who feels mistreated by Danny as she just wants Nick to be happy while wanting to settle things with Danny where things don’t go well at all. Finally, there’s Yul Vasquez in a brilliant performance as Danny as this rock singer who becomes paranoid over his bandmate’s new life as he thinks Scarlett will break up the band where things go wrong after he gets a mysterious tattoo.
On a Deadman’s Chest is a phenomenal episode of Tales from the Crypt from William Friedkin. With a great cast, a chilling story, and some stylish technical work, the episode isn’t just one of the most gory and scary but also one of its funniest. Especially for the intro and outro from the Cryptkeeper who manages to find humor in these stories of misfortune. In the end, On a Deadman’s Chest is a spectacular episode of Tales from the Crypt from William Friedkin.