Tales from the Crypt Episode 89: Smoke Wrings

General Information

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

 

Overview

Possessing a hypnotic device, the uncouth Barry (Daniel Craig) is hired by an advertising executive named Jacqueline (Ute Lemper). Thereafter, Barry—working Tales from the Crypt Smoke Wringswith 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.

 

Pros

Tales from the Crypt Smoke WringsWhile impersonating Marlon Brando, the Crypt Keeper—dressed as Vito Corleone—makes a number of amusing references to The Godfather.

In one scene, Barry imagines a horde of rats attacking him while under hypnosis—a creepy, skin-crawling homage to the movie Willard.

 

Cons

“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, smearingTales from the Crypt Smoke Wrings 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.

 

Analysis

Tales from the Crypt Smoke WringsThis offering contains a worthwhile, albeit rather muddled, message on the dangers of allowing revenge to poison the soul.

 

Concluding Comments

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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