Director: Mandie Fletcher
Writer: Lisa Sandoval
Cast: Ute Lemper, Chris Stanton, Tres Hanley, Daniel Craig, Gayle Hunnicutt, Denis Lawson, John Kassir, and Julian Kerridge
Composer: Tay Uhler
Air Date: 6/21/1996
Possessing a hypnotic device, the uncouth Barry (Daniel Craig) is hired by an advertising executive named Jacqueline (Ute Lemper). Thereafter, Barry—working with Jacqueline’s estranged ex-partner—cooks up a scheme to dispose of his new boss.
“Smoke Wrings” operates on an intriguing premise, employing concepts such as revenge, murder, and mind control in a corporate setting. Sci-fi/horror buffs may nevertheless wish to avoid this episode, which, in addition to its implausible finale, fails to maintain a consistent tone from start to finish.
In one scene, Barry imagines a horde of rats attacking him while under hypnosis—a creepy, skin-crawling homage to the movie Willard.
“Smoke Wrings” deserves criticism for injecting campy, over-the-top humor into a potentially fascinating science fiction story. Barry’s hypnotism of Frank and Jacqueline, for example, results in both characters cramming chocolate into their mouths, smearing lipstick onto their faces, and preparing to have violent sex with each other on the boardroom couch—all cringe-worthy moments that detract from the overall serious tone of this episode.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
After falling to his death, the main character is revealed to be a test victim of the aforementioned device, with Jacqueline, Frank, and Ellen each playing a role in Barry’s demise—a hackneyed, not to mention extremely unrealistic, conclusion to writer Lisa Sandoval’s narrative.
Featuring current James Bond actor Danny Craig in an early performance, “Smoke Wrings” is an underwhelming episode. Tales from the Crypt viewers may, however, appreciate the climactic sequence for its bloody, suspenseful execution.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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