Director: Steven E. de Souza
Writer: Steven E. de Souza
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, George Deloy, and John Kassir
Composer: Bruce Broughton
Air Date: 6/15/1991
After robbing a bank, serial killer Earl Raymond Digs (Kyle MacLachlan) is arrested by and handcuffed to a determined policeman (George Deloy). Despite fatally wounding his pursuer, Digs must trek across the Arizona desert with a dead body in tow; and a hungry vulture lurking in the distance.
By accentuating atmospheric tension with exceptional performances, “Carrion Death” earns its reputation as a classic Tales from the Crypt offering. Also worth praising is the gruesome—albeit greatly satisfying—final scene, the ironic undertones of which will appeal to enthusiasts of the horror/comedy genre.
Beginning with an action-packed car chase, “Carrion Death” delves immediately into the cat-and-mouse game between Digs and the anonymous state trooper—an effective means of immersing the viewer in Steven E. de Souza’s narrative, especially considering that no amount of prior information on Digs, a vicious murderer, could possibly allow audiences to sympathize with him. It should, however, be noted that events progress at a more gradual and therefore suspenseful pace in later sequences, which center exclusively on Digs and his increasing inability to ignore the perceived taunts of an ever-present vulture.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Though somewhat open to interpretation, the vulture in this episode appears to serve as an embodiment of death itself—an explanation supported by the fact that as soon as Digs’ predicament becomes impossible to escape from, the aforementioned vulture proceeds to stalk, harass, and finally prey upon his victim as if invited by some supernatural force. (On a side note, fans of The Twilight Zone may draw a similar conclusion after viewing “The Hitch-Hiker,” the main antagonist of which likewise behaves in a predatory fashion; that is, at least until revealing himself to be an agent/personification of life’s only inevitable outcome.)
A haunting episode, “Carrion Death” contains a chilling metaphor of man’s desire to avoid mortality at all costs. Tales from the Crypt fans will thus enjoy this entry, which complements grisly subject matter with comic relief of a morbid variety (i.e. Digs’ vile threats and insults directed at a seemingly innocuous bird).
Overall Quality: 10/10
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