Tales from the Crypt Episode 77: Doctor of Horror

General Information

Director: Larry Wilson

Writer: Larry Wilson

Cast: Hank Azaria, Travis Tritt, Ben Stein, Austin Pendelton, and John Kassir

Composer: Jay Ferguson

Air Date: 1/4/1995

 

Overview

Tales from the Crypt Doctor of HorrorWorking the night shift at a local morgue, security guards Richard (Hank Azaria) and Charlie (Travis Tritt) confront the eccentric Dr. Orloff (Austin Pendelton)—a mad scientist who, believing that souls can be extracted from the recently deceased, attempts to steal a dead body and return with it to his laboratory. Things take an unexpected turn when Charlie and Richard, both fed up with the abusive behavior of their boss (Ben Stein), agree to assist Dr. Orloff with his crazy experiments.

Similar to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “Doctor of Horror” explores the potential consequences of playing god by tampering with unknown forces. Nevertheless, this Tales from the Crypt entry is marred by campy humor and exaggerated performances.

 

Pros

On a technical level, “Doctor of Horror” should be commended for its elaborate and realistic gore/make-up effects, which, especially when featured in the settingTales from the Crypt Doctor of Horror of a grungy underground laboratory, accentuate the morbid subject matter emphasized by teleplay writer Larry Wilson (contributor to Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and various Tales from the Crypt episodes). Nauseating highlights include decapitated heads; decomposing corpses covered in freezer burn; surgery performed on the backs of both dead and living patients; and a zombie smeared from head-to-toe in slimy, necrotic flesh.

 

Cons

Hank Azaria, Austin Pendelton, and country music singer Travis Tritt deserve criticism for acting in an over-the-top manner, detracting from the already far-fetched concept of a deranged, unethical scientist harvesting the “souls” of his victims. The dry performance of Ben Stein, on the other hand, adds an air of credibility to the notion of an uptight, though highly astute, morgue operator threatening the plans of two bumbling, incompetent body snatchers.

 

Analysis

Tales from the Crypt Doctor of HorrorBy offering a metaphysical twist on a mad scientist theme, this episode will appeal to fans of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre.

 

Concluding Comments

“Doctor of Horror” benefits from topnotch production values and a gruesome ending. Horror fans of a serious nature may, however, wish to avoid this episode for its excessive camp factor.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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