Director: Kevin Yagher
Writer: Fred Dekker
Cast: Lewis Arquette, Stefan Gierasch, Mark Rolston, Jeff Yagher, John Kassir, Cindy Riegel, Alexandra Prager, and Kenneth White
Composer: Michel Colombier
Air Date: 7/3/1990
After a sideshow operator named Mr. Sickles (Stefan Gierasch) acquires the body of an Egyptian princess from shady businessman Zachary Cling (Mark Rolston), deformed sideshow attraction Enoch (Jeff Yagher) falls in love with the mummified remains of said princess. This bizarre romance leads to a ghastly but poignant twist, one that will no doubt appeal to Tales from the Crypt fans.
A solid effort, “Lower Berth” offers a clever backstory for the Crypt Keeper. Likewise, a carnival setting works to establish the horror elements in Fred Dekker’s narrative.
Enoch’s contorted face(s) embodies all the detail one would expect of a genuine birth defect, thus eliciting sympathy from viewers of a sensitive inclination. Also worth mentioning is the mummy’s decrepit appearance, which likewise allowed the Tales from the Crypt make-up crew to showcase a variety of ghoulish abilities with regard to creature effects.
The performances in this episode are also commendable and generally free of campy undertones that might have detracted from Dekker’s somber approach to the subject matter. Notably, Stefan Gierasch portrayed Mr. Sickles as a greedy, malevolent character not unlike the Elephant Man’s abusive manager in the 1980 film directed by David Lynch. Jeff Yagher’s portrayal of Enoch is also noteworthy, mainly due to the fact that a range of complex emotional states are conveyed through heavy make-up.
The moral lesson to be gleaned from “Lower Berth” should be obvious. Specifically, Mr. Sickles seals his own gruesome fate by routinely mistreating poor Enoch (however, it should also be noted that Enoch fails to remain sympathetic when he retaliates against his master in a most horrendous manner).
By implementing a serious approach to horror, “Lower Berth” succeeds as a remarkably chilling piece. In addition, Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts should appreciate this episode for its silly but effective plot surrounding the Crypt Keeper’s birth.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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