Director: Jack Sholder
Writers: Jonathan David Kahn, Michael Alan Kahn, and Don Mancini
Cast: Moses Gunn, Jon Clair, Teddy Wilson, John Kassir, Nick La Tour, Al Fann, and Joanne Jackson
Composer: Stanley Clarke
Air Date: 6/19/1990
Having recently been orphaned, Bobby Thornberry (Jon Clair) moves in with his self-righteous, physically abusive Uncle Ezra (Moses Gunn) to help manage his ghastly funeral home. Unwilling to provide for his nephew, Ezra eventually does away with Bobby only to face haunting consequences as a result.
Despite operating on a mean-spirited premise, “Fitting Punishment” benefits from a high creep factor coupled with a satisfying climax. Likewise, Moses Gunn’s performance will surely entertain Tales from the Crypt fans with its tongue-in-cheek elements.
Though Ezra has often rightfully been cited as one of the most despicable Tales from the Crypt villains of all time, Gunn played his part with an almost jovial edge to compensate for his hateful qualities. Also noteworthy is the fact that any comedic moments fail to detract from this episode’s chilling atmosphere, with Ezra’s grumpy personality culminating in a great deal of subtle but effective humor (this marks an improvement over prior episodes, many of which rely almost exclusively on slapstick gags for cheap laughs).
In addition, Stanley Clarke’s suspenseful composition serves to enhance the atmospheric aspects stemming from a supernatural premise. Notably, Clarke’s brilliant use of chimes will no doubt leave many viewers with an ominous sensation leading into the finale, where a harrowing twist will simultaneously amuse and frighten fans of the horror comedy genre.
Child abuse, hypocrisy, and religious fundamentalism are all themes which are explored in this episode. Similar to many of Stephen King’s characters, Uncle Ezra represents any pompous, zealous Christians who use their faith as an excuse to bully and intimidate others. Before long, however, Ezra reveals his phony character when he attacks Bobby for correcting a quote wrongly attributed to the Bible, again demonstrating that the uncle in question merely uses his religion as a tool to dominate those who challenge his authority.
“Fitting Punishment” will appeal to Tales from the Crypt fans with its campy but restrained approach to humor. Likewise, the disturbing material outlined above should captivate horror enthusiasts of a more serious inclination.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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