Director: Richard Donner
Writer: Frank Darabont
Cast: David Morse, Neil Gray Giuntoli, Roderick Cook, Thomas F. Duffy, John Kassir, Monty Bass, Grant Gelt, Paul T. Murray, Tommy Townsend, and Mel Coleman
Composer: Michael Kamen
Air Date: 8/1/1992
Upon fleeing to a small town, outlaw Billy Quintaine (Neil Gray Giuntoli) encounters and subsequently kills Texas Ranger Tom McMurdo (David Morse). Shortly thereafter, Billy is forced to literally confront the ghosts of his past.
Similar to The Twilight Zone’s “Mr. Denton on Doomsday,” this Two-Fisted Tales segment employs a Western theme in conjunction with supernatural undertones. Horror fans will thus enjoy “Showdown,” which maintains a compelling air of suspense despite lacking the raw scare factor for which Tales from the Crypt is famous.
When informed of his harrowing fate, Billy Quintaine reacts with fear, denial, and paranoia—all of which are accentuated by an eerie setting (i.e. a smoke-filled saloon occupied by cowboys of the spectral variety) combined with subtle, unnerving sound effects befitting the ghostly nature of Billy’s many victims. Also chilling is the complete breakdown experienced by Billy, who at one point explodes with a hideous bellow and begs for mercy upon acknowledging his dire predicament—a haunting contrast with the once calm demeanor of an exceptionally skilled gunfighter.
Billy’s ghost becoming the main attraction at a modern-day tourist trap serves to cheapen the impact of an otherwise terrifying plot twist.
Though somewhat light on character development, “Showdown” will appeal to both Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts and fans of the Western genre. Especially impressive is the cinematic quality that complements nearly every scene, a likely result of the collaborative efforts between Hollywood veterans Frank Darabont and Richard Donner.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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