Director: Michael Riva
Writer: Doug Ronning
Cast: Larry Drake, Grace Zabriskie, Mike Simmrin, Georgann Johnson, Stella Hall, William Frankfather, John Kassir, Nicolas Ostrogovich, Jordan Metzner, and Gary Schwartz
Composer: David Kitay
Air Date: 7/31/1990
In this touching but goofy tale, an orphan named Theodore (Mike Simmrin) is adopted by a Mr. and Mrs. Colbert (William Frankfather and Grace Zabriskie), whose kooky qualities are counterbalanced by the more compassionate attributes of their butler Tobias (Larry Drake). Unbeknownst to their young guest, the Colberts harbor a most dark and sinister secret concerning the fate of his real parents; however, Theodore later reveals a frightening secret of his own.
Though marred by lousy acting, Doug Ronning’s narrative contains many poignant aspects that will appeal to viewers of a sensitive inclination. “The Secret” should likewise be commended for emphasizing a variety of classic horror elements, the majority of which will no doubt captivate the interest of genre enthusiasts.
Quite unlike the exaggerated performances of his costars, actor Larry Drake—known to Tales from the Crypt fans for his role as the deranged Santa killer in “And All Through the House”—gave a delicate portrayal of Tobias, thereby eliciting sympathy from audiences with compassionate tendencies.
In addition to its campy tone, “The Secret” is hampered by a predictable twist ending. While Tales from the Crypt episodes will frequently drop minor hints before revealing any last-minute surprises, this particular offering makes no attempt to maintain subtlety when providing viewers with potential spoilers.
At its core, “The Secret” is a heartwarming message about friendship and self-sacrifice; thus, those who prefer meaningful character interactions over mindless splatter are advised to view this episode. Specifically, an unassuming manservant is forced to choose between saving an innocent little boy from the malevolent devices of a monstrous couple and, on the other hand, remaining loyal to said couple after years of mutually beneficial service. Such a lesson would have likely been delivered with greater impact had a more talented child actor been chosen to portray the young protagonist; nevertheless, Drake’s elegant approach to the butler character works to redeem the weaker efforts of a less remarkable cast.
“The Secret” offers many cute and endearing moments, but often struggles to overcome the juvenile undertones that permeate nearly every scene. Fans of old monster movies should, however, watch this episode for its conclusion involving a werewolf and his vampire adversaries.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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