Geekade’s 31 Days of Halloween steamrolls into week four of Rising from the Crypt with the fourth episode (but only second night) of the seminal Tales from the Crypt TV series. Dr. AzarRising here, and we’re gearing up to watch a story about a desperate prostitute… I wonder, do people become hookers out of anything besides desperation? Does anyone choose that lifestyle just for kicks? Is there anyone out there that enjoys turning tricks so much that they get into that life and forsake their PhD for the hell of it? I’m sorry, where was I? That’s right Gravediggers, and Undertakers, a prostitute that believes she’s found a way out of that line of work, but at what cost?
- Tales from the Crypt
- Season 1 Episode 4 “Only Sin Deep”
- Directed by Howard Deutch
- Starring Lea Thompson, Britt Leach, Brett Cullen
- Originally aired: June 14th 1989
- Sourced from: Haunt of Fear #24
Before we get into the episode, a bit of pop gossip; the director Howard Deutch (The Replacements, The Whole Nine Yards, Pretty in Pink) married the star of this episode a little over a month after it originally aired. In my head, that means he hired Lea Thompson as a hooker, loved her so much in that role, that he married her. Sadly after a little bit of research, I found they had met on set two years prior.
With that disappointment out of the way, let the episode begin. Lea Thompson (Back to the Future franchise and Howard the Duck) plays a prostitute obsessed with her looks who has designs to get out of the life. Her plan is to fake being rich so she can snag a wealthy playboy. “How does she do this?” you may ask. First, I’d say “calm your tits.” Obviously I’m going to tell you, that’s the point of this review. Secondly, I’d say “not very intelligently.” Although she works freelance and has no pimp of her own, she kills the pimp of her hooker friend, steals his jewelry and money, then tries to sell it at a pawn shop.
The Pawnshop owner, Britt Leach, another of those actors that appeared in every TV show of the 80’s but nothing of significance, refused to buy anything because he knows they were all stolen. Instead he offers to buy her beauty. Weary of the offer, the hooker (Sylvia Vane) nonetheless accepts the deal because of the hefty payment attached.
He creates a cast mold of her face while doing some weird voodoo incantation that she couldn’t hear. He says she has four months to cancel the deal. It’s shown that he keeps his dead wife’s decrepit decaying body on display in the back of the shop, and that he’s going to use Sylvia’s beauty to make her look beautiful again (not bring her back to life or anything)
Sylvia uses her newfound wealth to treat herself to a spa day, buys a ‘nice’ dress (that’s actually rather ugly) and rents a limo to take her to the location of a fancy penthouse party that she’s able to enter simply because she looks good and has an expensive dress on.
Using her super-hooker powers to seduce the bachelor who is throwing the party, Sylvia begins a relationship with him. Living the life she wanted, she couldn’t be happier, until she begins noticing wrinkles on her face that weren’t visible days ago.
Her new beau goes away for several days for work, so she visits a doctor who says there’s nothing medically wrong with her, and asks if she was exposed to anything new or strange recently. This is when she remembers the pawnshop and the deal she made. She returns to the shop and demands she get her looks back. Unfortunately, she missed her deadline. He offers to return her beauty for $10k.
Sylvia returns to her apartment with the rich boyfriend and begins raiding all the various jewelry he’s given her, and pilfers for any money he has lying around. He returns from work while she’s destroying the penthouse apartment, and unable to recognize her because she’s grown so old, he threatens to call the cops.
She shoots him dead, and takes whatever valuables he has on his body. In doing so, she forgets the gun next to him.
The following day, Sylvia returns again to the pawn shop, and gives the owner all of the jewelry and money in order to get her looks back. But he asks if she truly wants to do that, since the young Sylvia is currently wanted for the murder of her boyfriend, and her picture has been posted everywhere. The dead wife is shown, looking beautiful again because of Sylvia’s face mold, as well as several others
A cop friend of the owner walks into the shop, asking if he heard about the playboy death, and talks about how the prints on the gun already had a record from her prostitution days. Overhearing this, Sylvia knows she can’t return to her previous life and steals the bust made of her face.
On the streets of the city, Sylvia is bumped by her hooker friends from the beginning of the episode, and she drops the mold, breaking when it hits the pavement.
On to the rating…
Not a bad episode. I feel like the thing that hurt it the most was Lea Thompson’s acting. She played the least sexy hooker ever put to film. She made the voice extra deep, trying to sound like a tough Brooklynite (because that was a thing in the 80’s), but she just ended up sounded manly.
Also, I wish they had done more with the voodoo, but that wasn’t really the focus of the story. It was all about what Sylvia would do for her looks, even killing the one guy she’s ever had a relationship with. In the end, her desire for beauty and wealth left her with nothing and no one to turn to.
Come back next week for my final Tales from the Crypt review as part of our 31 Days of Halloween, and see how honeymoons don’t always turn out as expected and maybe question your spouse’s family a little more.
For more from Dr. AzarRising, please visit his website here.