Director: Richard Donner
Writer: Terry Black
Cast: John Kassir, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Wuhl, Kathleen York, Gustav Vintas, Stephen Kahan, Michael Ray Bower, Dorothy Neumann, Jack O’Leary, Paul Tuerpe, Rick Zumwalt, and Al Maines
Composer: Nicholas Pike
Air Date: 6/10/1989
Dr. Emil Manfred (Gustav Vintas) grafts a gland from a cat’s brain onto that of a vagrant named Ulric (Joe Pantoliano), who then gains an additional nine lives as a result. Hoping to capitalize on his new gift, “Ulric the Undying” earns money at a carnival by executing himself repeatedly before desensitized audiences, only to be resurrected at a later time. Despite the success of his act, Ulric finds himself in quite a predicament after a slight miscalculation on his part.
The perfect blend of comedy and horror, “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” will appeal to fans of both genres. Also, Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts should appreciate this episode for its penetrating commentary on human nature coupled with a brilliant twist ending.
Though predictable to astute viewers, the twist ending benefits from a more creative approach than usual. Whereas most Tales from the Crypt episodes unleash clichéd horror devices on villainous characters deserving of punishment, “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” strongly ties its resolution back to an earlier plot element, thus resulting in a satisfying and semi-coherent conclusion.
Thanks to the exaggerated performances of Joe Pantoliano and his fellow cast members, Terry Black’s morbid comedy elements are conveyed as a biting satire on consumerist culture. By encouraging Ulric to kill himself over and over again, Barker (Robert Wuhl) and Coralee (Kathleen York) prove that money and fame mean more to them than the life of another man. Likewise, Ulric squanders his precious lives simply to make a buck from satisfying the bloodthirst of his fans, proving himself to be just as shallow as those around him. While these characters are portrayed with all the subtlety one might expect from this series, Richard Donner’s cartoonish but gruesome direction allows for a resonating critique of the entertainment industry.
“Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” will satisfy fans of black comedy by balancing animated acting with unsettling situations. For those who enjoy the stylistic aspects of films such as Return of the Living Dead and Evil Dead 2, this episode should make for a fine introduction to the Tales from the Crypt television series.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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