0 comment Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | admin
FITTING PUNISHMENT- TALES FROM THE CRYPT
Directed by Jack Sholder
Written by Jonathan David Kahn, Michael Alan Kahn, and Don Mancini
Starring Moses Gunn, Jon Clair, and Teddy Wilson
Take out your notebooks, everyone. Today we are having a little lesson in payback. It�s fairly common knowledge that nothing good ever happens to stingy people. Just take a look at that Scrooge fellow. It never pays to be a penny-pincher, does it? Ahh, but if only someone had told that to good ol� Ezra Thorntonberry. It would have probably saved him a great fortune� by the end of his ordeal he had already spent an arm and a leg. And maybe a pair of feet. Oh, there I go again, prattling on and getting ahead of myself. Maybe it�s best if I let the events speak for themselves.
A funeral service is taking place within the parlor of dear old Mr. Thorntonberry (Moses Gunn) when a young whippersnapper named Bobby (Jon Clair) stumbles in straight off the pickup truck from a normal teenage life turned upside down. Bobby sees what a nice guy Ezra is when he offers up honey-glazed condolences to the family of the deceased before bringing the hurt down on his slavish organ player and chief indentured servant Clyde (Teddy Wilson).
Turns out Bobby is Ezra�s nephew, but the old coot finds more pleasure in hearing the gory manner in which his sister died than getting the news that he is now Bobby�s legal guardian. So what�s a father-on-the-fly to do but share a bonding moment with Bobby? Namely by yanking a gold tooth straight out of a dead woman�s stiff lips in order to hawk it for some quick bucks!
I ain't payin' no tree-fitty to no Crypt Keeper!
As if this and the wonderful closet that Ezra has given Bobby as a bedroom weren�t cool enough, the mortician takes the lad under his wing as an apprentice corpse cosmetologist. But Ezra�s idea of a beauty makeover is of the stuff 'em and bury 'em variety. After draining one corpse (regarded as a "cesspool" by Ezra) our lovable undertaker refills the body with good ol� American water straight from a filthy tap. Screw that formaldehyde crap! We�re running a business here and frivolous expenses like that have to be cut. Ezra�s charm even includes purchasing coffins made in Taiwan (despite them being a tad shorter due to the peoples� average height) that he delightfully sells for full price to his mourning customers. Don�t you just want to give him a big ol� hug?
Amidst complaining about cadavers stinking up his parlor and slapping Bobby upside the head for being a damn fool in general, Ezra orders his put-upon nephew to take the measurements and coffin specifications of the Geoffreys boy downstairs. After the service a few days later, Ezra is consoling the solemn Mr. Geoffreys who takes one last look at his son before the burial. But what�s this? The coffin is made of pine when Geoffreys had specifically asked for oak! This tomfoolery cannot be tolerated and the elder Geoffreys insists on getting "the best for my son."*
*This guy was apparently upset for a total of thirty-six seconds before he noticed the mistaken coffin. All concern and sadness over the loss of his child was dropped like a sack of cadavers in favor of nitpicking over which executed tree the little snot was placed in. As much as an ass Ezra is to everyone, I think Geoffreys' fathering skills need to seriously be scrutinized. I got news for you, daddy-o: the worms don�t care what type of bread you put on their sandwich.
"Now does it hurt when I do this?"
As you could probably guess, Ezra is not overjoyed to hear this news; it means that (gulp!) he�ll have to open his wallet again! A punishment is in order, and Ezra is enthusiastic to hand out the floggings. Poor Bobby tries to explain to his uncle that he did in fact specify oak but his declarations of reason are a little hard to hear under the DEATH-BLOWS FROM HELL that rain down on his spinal cord from Ezra�s crowbar! Bobby can�t handle a good beating and the doctor that arrives later (Ezra informing him that the injury was due to the rambunctious tyke suffering a spill after running through the house) gravely informs the mortician that his nephew will never be able to walk again.
The medical bills begin piling up, Crutch-Boy (I mean Bobby) begins whining because Ezra sold his Air Jordans, and they still have that damn pine coffin that�s not being put to use. Hmmm, on second thought, scratch one problem off the list there. Actually, make that two problems. Just as Bobby is sweating bullets trying to get upstairs, he�s met by the grinning Ezra, looking just like a cuddly teddy bear that happens to have a knife behind its back.
"...as a doornail!"
But instead of a blade Bobby gets a face full of basketball that sends him tumbling all the way to his twisted-neck death. Ezra�s a tad perturbed to find out that the lanky boy�s feet extend just past the pine coffin�s ledge, but that�s no trouble an electric saw can�t fix! Even at the burial the doctor can�t help noting the short coffin PLUS the double freak accident that claimed first Bobby�s spine and then his life� but hey, whaddayagonnadoright?!
Our favorite lowly organ player Clyde tells Ezra he�s hitting the road, hinting that he suspects the true cause of the boy�s death, but old man Thorntonberry ain�t taking any of that. He can get along just fine without him (I hear he plays a mean "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"). That night our unctuous undertaker is trying to get some shut eye when he hears a tap-tap-tapping at his chamber door.
Quit handing out your worldly advice, Morgan Freeman.
Naturally he goes to answer and, also naturally, there�s no one there except the howling wind of the night. Faucets begin to leak and lights are turned on but it takes more than that to put the fear in Ezra�s stony heart. So the forces of the supernatural send Bobby�s basketball thumping down the stairs ala The Changeling in order to inspire some goosebumps. Ezra hardly has time to process this before a severed, bloody, sneakered foot gives him a solid kick in the ass and sends him packing down the basement stairs.
Lo and behold, Ezra�s now paralyzed (being a mortician is certainly a back-breaking undertaking, ain�t it?). But that�s the least of this codger�s worries; the basement doors swing open to reveal Bobby�s reanimated corpse, his stumpy legs grotesquely dangling in the air as he holds himself up on his crutches. His wide, dark eyes stare lividly out from his death-white face and just before Bobby can inflict some due payment on his greedy old uncle via the handy dandy crowbar, he rasps out a chilling line of scripture: "Like it says in the Bible, Uncle Ezra: Blood is thicker than water!" End Scene.
This eerie episode from Tales from the Crypt�s second season is quite underrated in my opinion, and I don�t really know why. Perhaps because it fits into the E.C. mold so warmly and snugly (poetic vengeance from the land six feet under) it tends to go unnoticed amongst its moldy and more romantic partners in crime like the fiery love triangle of "The Thing from the Grave" or the festering zombie crush from "Til� Death."
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking LOVE SEAT!
It�s a little more unique amongst its rotting brethren, retaining a nice urban flavor and attitude that compliments the dog-eat-dog world view of Ezra�s character quite nicely. It could very well be a segment straight out of Tales from the Hood; couldn�t you just imagine our good, wild-eyed friend Mr. Simms pouring his giddy, warped heart out at the prospect of presenting a tale about a fellow man of the funeral cloth? Yes, yes, I can see it all now� *Cliché harp strumming* But instead we get the Crypt Keeper playing hoops with dusty skulls, so I think we can safely say that all is right with the world in the end.
Although the cast is filled with fully capable thespians, it�s Moses Gunn as the despicable Ezra that steals the show (even though I�m partial to villains, I think it was the filmmakers� purpose to put this fiend front and center for all of us to hiss at). He never makes you doubt that he is the real deal; his deliveries are short and crass and nearly everything that comes out of his mouth is filled with hatred. He pulls the cantankerous skinflint bit off extremely well. But you can tell that underneath all of the character�s unpleasantries that Gunn is delighting in his juicy role. And there�s plenty of meat here for everyone to enjoy. And maybe, just maybe, we might be able to take away a little bit of Ezra�s philosophies to only better our own lives.
After all, dem funerals sure ain�t cheap.
Satan bless us, everyone!