31 Days of Tales From the Crypt S:05 E:01

Good morning creepies! Cryptkeeper Bubbawheat with our final ghost blogger of the season before I wrap things up on our final day tomorrow as this is our 30th day of our 31 Days of Tales From the Crypt. It brings me no great pleasure to introduce Jay Cluitt as he has the sickly named site Life vs. Film when he has obviously overlooked the much superior Death vs. Film which would be much more interesting from my point of view. But anyway, at his site he is going through various lists of the best movies of all time, from a cinephile’s perspective where he decides if it’s worth watching, or if you should spend your time living your life in various other ways. Today he’s looking at an episode that some have said is one of the best from the series, and it includes Tim Curry playing triple roles under heavy makeup. It also includes one of the most bizarre sex scenes you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing on top of having the Death of Some Salesman.

Episode Title: The Death of Some Salesman
Original Airdate: 10-2-93


Death of Some Salesman

Cards on the table, I’d never seen an episode of Tales From the Crypt before. I have no history with the show, and had little to no knowledge of what would be in store on any given episode. When Bubbawheat asked for contributors for this month I headed to Wikipedia to scope out the show, and found the episode listings littered with some of my favourite actors and directors cutting their teeth before making names for themselves on the big screen, so I thought at the very least this would be an interesting delve into some of their earlier careers. I proffered a short-list, which Bubbawheat and I whittled down to finally settle on The Death of Some Salesman, because it saw Tim Curry playing multiple roles, so there was no chance I wasn’t going to watch this.

Death cryptkeeper

Reading some of this month’s other articles warned me to the presence of the Crypt Keeper at the start of the show, here as part of a fake shopping channel – the Home Chopping Network. Had I known his inclination for horrible puns I’d have been a fan of this show decades ago, so we were off to a good start. After his brief introduction – which already left a big grin plastered all over my face – the story kicked off with some sex. I’d originally intended to watch this at work over a lunch break, so opening with a bare-chested beauty thrusting all over the place made me somewhat grateful that I hadn’t had time during the day, and was watching this in the safe confines of my home, where NSFW material was more than welcome. The copulation in question was occurring between Ed Begley Jr.’s travelling salesman Judd Campbell and a waitress he’s encountered the night before, whom he had initially told he’d loved, but now, post-coitus, he was more than willing to walk out on, claiming last night’s activities were merely the product of good salesmanship.

If that wasn’t enough to shy us away from this guy, we find out that his salesman career is possibly the most dastardly scheme in history. Every morning Judd scours the newspaper’s obituaries, then heads out to visit the fresh widows, whom he convinces that their recently deceased spouses, just before passing away, put down a deposit on a premium burial site that would also result in a bulk payment upon an untimely demise, such as the one they’ve recently suffered. One such “client” is conned from all the money she had left in the world, after losing her husband just days ago, making this a thoroughly depressing and aggravating set-up for a character I could only assume we were going to delight in watching fall from grace, it was just a matter of time to wait for his comeuppance.

death tv

Whatever I’d imagined would happen, it was most certainly not what occurred, except for the very final fate of Judd, which is kind of spelled out in both his title and chosen profession. Knocking on the wrong door, he finds himself welcomed into the home of the Brackett family, Ma, Pa and their daughter, Winona, all of whom are played by Tim Curry, in a Kind Hearts and Coronets manner, but with fewer relatives and camera trickery. Curry is, predictably, a delight, revelling in playing these yokel hicks as easily-deluded fools. Their make-up isn’t all that great – I think it’ll take a while before Tales From the Crypt received a high definition release – but that’s more than fine when Curry is this entertaining.

It’s pretty clear not all is as it seems with the Bracketts, but things take an even more sudden turn than expected when Judd takes a snoop around their kitchen, discovering he may not be the first travelling salesman to be granted entry into their household, and that not all the others have left intact. What I’m hinting at is there’s a severed head in the microwave. And another man has been stuffed with a vacuum cleaner. These came as a massive and jarring shock to me, given the sense of comedic security I’d been lulled into with Curry’s performances, so well done to all involved. Before viewing, Bubbawheat had hinted at there being a particular moment in this episode that he was looking forward to reading my thoughts on, so I thought that might have been it, and the rest of the episode would follow Judd’s predictably failed attempts to evade the Brackett family’s clutches, but I was very much wrong.

Death wtf

At this point in the show we’d yet to meet the third and youngest member of the Brackett family, Winona, who is searching for a husband, and may have found one in the form of Judd. He finds himself with an ultimatum on his hands – Pa Brackett will shoot him if he doesn’t fall in love with his daughter, and this leads to a scenario wherein Judd must will himself into having an erection so he can have sex with Winona Brackett who, lets not forget, looks like Tim Curry in a dress. She also hasn’t washed in weeks, and delights in removing her sodden underwear and dangling it in Judd’s face in a manner that almost made me retch. I couldn’t believe what I was watching and, once again, I was very grateful that I wasn’t watching this at work, where my computer screen can be clearly seen from my manager’s desk.

What happens after this highly unexpected sex scene was, alas, largely predictable and expected, lending the final act of the episode a sense of banal inevitability after the previous highs, akin to the slow docking of a roller coaster at the end of the ride. It’s a necessary, stabilising occurrence, but it was a bit disappointing after all those nauseating loops and drops. Still, Curry and Begley Jr. sold it all, and the various camera manoeuvres to coincide Curry’s multiple performances were deftly performed.

Being my so far only adventure within the Tales From the Crypt world I’ve got nothing to compare this to episode-wise, but it has most definitely piqued my interest to check out some other shows, so if nothing else I’ve got Bubbawheat to thank for introducing me to this mind-addling show.

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