One week gone, and we’re back, so don’t you fret my Gravediggers and Undertakers. ‘Rising from the Crypt’ is just getting started. Geekade’s 31 Days of Halloween feels even bigger this year, and I’m glad to be able to bring a second series to the fold. Rolling into week two with episode two, the hits, and scares keep coming.
Tales from the Crypt
Season 1 Episode 2 “And All Through the House”
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Mary Ellen Trainor, Larry Drake, and Marshall Bell
Originally aired: June 10th 1989
Sourced from: Vault of Horror #35
HBO did something odd with this series when it first began. Perhaps because they didn’t have faith in it, they aired the first 3 episodes on the same night. Being that the first season is only 6 episodes, it seems weird to show half the season right off the bat. But with this second episode being a Christmas themed episode, showing it in June comes off misguided, but who am I to say? I’m re-watching this nearly 30 years after it originally aired.
The cold open involved the Crypt Keeper dressed as Santa Claus in a creepy ill-fitting mask that somehow made him even scarier to look at.
The actual story begins with a man reading from “Twas the Night Before Christmas” near a fireplace, with his wife standing behind him. He mocks the moral of the book, then turns his attention to the fireplace and demands his wife ‘let him have’ the fire poker. She does so violently, stabbing the hook in his head, killing him. (That escalated quickly!)
She must have had more strength than expected because the poker was really stuck in the guy. After much struggling she’s able to pry it loose just before her young daughter comes down the stairs asking if Santa is there yet. Her mom ushers her back to sleep before she could see the dead body. When the daughter asks why her step-father didn’t say goodnight, her mother said he was sleeping, like she should be. The mother then calls someone to inform him that she killed the husband while she holds life insurance papers to really hammer home her intentions.
Apparently, the wife (who I don’t believe was ever given a name) trusts that her anxious and excited daughter won’t get out of bed again, because she decides to wrap her dead husband’s head in a plastic bag, and drag him outside. As she’s leaving the house, a convenient news story comes onto the radio informing the audience that a psychotic killer dressed in a Santa outfit escaped custody and that he only targets middle aged women. (I wonder if this will come into play. Hmm…)
She gets her husband’s body, also never named, near a well and lays him in the snow. Deciding that now is a good time for her to check if the well is deep enough for the body, she investigates, but just then the husband wakes up from his nap and grabs her by the leg. The gaping hole in his head proves only a minor inconvenience, as she reaches for a wood ax only inches out of reach. Before she can grab it, the husband dies again.
Just then she’s attacked by the Santa from the news story. He pins her against the well, and she defends herself with an icicle, cutting into the Santa’s already hideous face. She makes her way into the house and is about to call the police, when she remembers her husband’s dead body on the lawn and hangs up the phone.
Contemplating what to do, and keeping an eye out for Santa through the windows, he crashes through using a tire swing (which means it was way too close to the house in the first place) and grabs her. She’s able to reach the ax and hit him in the face with it, but she used the blunt end of it, not, you know, the killing side.
Quick side note: the kid sleeps through all of this!
The sheriff calls the house, to inform her that the Santa killer is on the loose, and she looks at his unconscious body while playing dumb on the phone. The sheriff says he’s going to come by to make sure everything is good, but she’s worried because of the two bodies. She hatches the plan to chop her husband’s head with the ax where she stabbed him, then blame his death on the Santa. After a few comical (supposedly) misses, she chops his head but gets locked out of the house. The wind causes the door to close, and this wakes the kid up. Not the window breaking, not her mother screaming bloody murder, not Santa cackling like a maniac, but the door closing.
The wife is able to find her keys,and get back in the house where she then calls the police to tell them that the Santa killer showed up and killed her husband. But as she’s on the phone with them, she looks back at her husband, and the ax has been ripped from his head. She begins to really freak out. The cops ask if she has anything to protect herself with, and she remembers her husband’s gun. Joseph! We got a name!
As she retrieves it from the closet, she gets trapped in there because the doorknob falls apart in a way that only happens in movies/tv. From the window (still in the closet) she can see the Santa climbing a ladder to the daughter’s room. The mother breaks her way out, leaving the gun, and finds her daughter downstairs holding hands with ‘Santa’.
The episode ends with her screaming nonstop, but thankfully the Crypt Keeper lets us know that he only kills older women, and that the child probably lived a nice long mentally scarred life.
On to the rating…
The wife, the husband, and Santa are all played by actors you’ve seen a dozen times before, but never knew their names, much like the first episode. Although I loved Larry Drake (Santa) as Durant in “Darkman”. None of them gave particularly stellar performances, but I guess they weren’t terrible. I would also like to point out the director of this Christmas themed episode, is also the director of “The Polar Express” and “A Christmas Carol.” Something about the irony there tickles me the right way, and it’s not often I’m tickled the right way.
Unfortunately, this episode brought in more toys then it could play with. The wife killed her husband for the insurance money, and seeing that he was a step-father to the little girl, maybe she did this more than once before? Who was the boyfriend that she had called and left a message with? And most importantly, where the hell did her logic go the moment after she killed her husband (the first time)? She made so many stupid mistakes, it is unforgivable.
Come back for the third consecutive week next Sunday for “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” and see if director mother fucking Richard Donner launched his career with his episode or if it’s a blip on his resume better left forgotten.
For more from Dr. AzarRising, please visit his website here.