We’re back again with the third episode of Tales from the Crypt. If we keep this pace up we’re going to burn through the entire series way too soon! Geekade’s 31 Days of Halloween continues to roll on my Gravediggers and Undertakers with an all new chilling tale from the Crypt Keeper (oh my God that’s where they got the name!)
Tales from the Crypt
Season 1 Episode 3 “Dig that Cat… He’s Real Gone”
Directed by Richard Donner
Starring Joe Pantoliano, Robert Wuhl, Kathleen York
Originally aired: June 10th 1989
Sourced from: Haunt of Fear #21
The final of the triple premiere night episodes, “Dig that Cat… He’s Real Gone” was directed by Richard Donner. We’re talking Superman, Goonies, Lethal Weapon series director Richard Donner! You better believe when he decides to do a TV show after the success of his movies, it’s something special.
This episode starts with Arliss, I mean Robert Wuhl as a ringleader of a sideshow carnival. He’s pandering to a TY crew as he’s about to bury Ulrich the Undying. Inside the coffin is Ulrich, played by Joe Pantoliano (aka Joey Pants), who tells us of his story, beginning as a drunk, homeless bum. While in his cardboard bed, he’s approached by a scientist that offers him plenty of cash to undergo a single experiment.
Back at his lab, the scientist, Dr. Emil Manfred, explains that he’s discovered a gland in the brains of cats that allow them to have nine lives. Completely crap science aside, Ulrich agrees, and awakens from the surgery, unsure if it worked or not. Manfred decides there’s only one way to test it, and shoots Ulrich in the head (life #1). A short while later, Ulrich revives, and instead of approaching the scientific community with their discovery, Manfred and Ulrich go to the circus to make money.
They go to Arliss and make an agreement for a new show, Manfred earns 60% and Ulrich 40%. Ulrich is drowned in a vat similar to the dunk tanks (life #2), but before he can revive most of the audience leaves. Finally coming to, the audience returns to celebrate Ulrich, who instantly gets the ‘lovely assistant’ as his girl. At this point, I feel the need to point out that it feels like Robert Wuhl is doing his best Dan Aykroyd impression in some of these scenes for whatever reason, and it’s great.
They make a decent amount of money, and garner some attention, meaning the next show has to be even bigger. This time, they setup a big western feel for the show, and Ulrich is hung (life #3). His girlfriend, Coralee, the assistant, refuses to pull the lever to hang him, so Ulrich does it himself. Shortly after he resurrects to much fanfare from the crowd. Looking at Coralle actress, Kathleen York’s IMDB page, I see that she’s done so much that I’ve never seen, but I feel like she’s one of those actors that many people will recognize.
Ulrich discusses the arrangement that he and Manfred have together, and Joey Pants really plays up that his throat was damaged during the hanging, it is spectacular in its stupidity.
Driving in the rain with Manfred, Ulrich crashes the car so he can kill Manfred, and get the full 100% of the profits. This of course kills Ulrich as well (life #4), but that’s no skin off his back, right?
The next show, for some reason is an Asian stereotype-themed event, and Ulrich is chained to an electrocution machine. An elderly woman from the crowd volunteers to throw the switch, killing Ulrich (life #5). His resurrection time takes longer than normal, and Ulrich is taken to the morgue. He’s about to be embalmed when Coralee barges in, and stalls him long enough for Ulrich to come back.
The next show, crowd members ‘get’ to pay $1,000 for a literal shot at Ulrich. They get to shoot an arrow at Ulrich as he’s pulled back and forth on stage. A sailor steps up for a shot, but can’t pay the fee. A nerd steps up and pays, but misses wildly. Next an obnoxious man offers to pay for his young son to kill Ulrich, but the son doesn’t want to. Forced to take the shot, he shoots a board in front of Ulrich. An archery state fair champion is next, and he kills Ulrich (life #6) with a direct shot to the heart.
Each show, Ulrich makes more and more money, but he tires of dying. He proposes the he and Coralee go on vacation. She agrees, but instead stabs him in the back (literally) killing him (life #7), and taking the money and fleeing.
With only one extra life left, Ulrich needs to recoup his money fast. So he blackmails Arliss (I really hope you all know who I keep referring to with the Arliss reference) into earning the entire ticket sales of the night, leaving him with whatever concession sales he can make. This is his final show, so they play it up big. We get back to where the episode started, and Ulrich is buried, and will be dug up in 12 hours, all while being recorded by the TV crew.
While waiting to die, Ulrich laments about the events that led him to this, and thanks the cat for giving it’s life so he can gain its abilities. That’s when he realizes one of the nine lives was already wasted, and his count was off by one. He has no more extra lives, and he’s going to die in the coffin for real.
Probably should have thought this one through.
On to the rating…
This is the most star studded cast so far for the series, and my rating may be skewed because I like Arliss and Joey Pants. Kathleen York was beyond annoying in this episode, but that was exactly what the role called for. I don’t know if this is the actress’ normal style, but for this, it worked.
Despite the science being completely unbelievable, you can still tell this story is being told by someone who knows what they’re doing. Richard Donner, really is (was?) an amazing director, and he showed it in this 30 minute episode. It wasn’t scary by any means (the only thing keeping it from the full ‘6 Feet Deep’ rating), but it was a great example of what this series could be. We’re halfway through the first season already, and we’re also about halfway through the month. Before you know it, it’ll be Christmas time and we’ll be looking at season 2.
But before that, come back next week for “Only Sin Deep” an episode that crafts prostitution and voodoo together. What can go wrong1?
For more from Dr. AzarRising, please visit his website here.