Tales from the Crypt Episode 42: Seance

Technical Specs

Director: Gary Fleder

Writer: Harry Anderson

Cast: Cathy Moriarty, Ben Cross, Ellen Crawford, John Vernon, John Kassir, Lupe Ontiveros, G.F. Smith, and Tim Ahern

Composer: Jimmy Webb

Air Date: 7/4/1992



tales-from-the-crypt-seanceCon artists Benjamin A. Polosky (Ben Cross) and Alison Peters (Cathy Moriarty) craft an elaborate scheme with which to swindle Presco Chalmers (John Vernon), a wealthy tycoon; however, the plan eventually backfires and Benny and Alison are instead required to hold a fake séance in order to scam Mr. Chalmers’ wife Dorothy (Ellen Crawford).

“Seance” lacks sufficient narrative depth and suffers from occasional pacing issues as a result. That being said, horror enthusiasts are advised to view this episode for its atmospheric tension leading into a remarkably gruesome final scene.



Though a tad clichéd, the twist ending delivers an impact that will undoubtedly resonate with the target audience of Tales from the Crypt. Notably, a combination of chilling horror devices (e.g. a séance performed in candlelit surroundings, a spectral tales-from-the-crypt-seancefigure cloaked in ominously black attire, and a series of obligatory thunder bursts to accompany said figure) generate a supernatural air that, when employed in conjunction with more visceral techniques (e.g. severed heads and disembodied hearts), culminate in a highly effective outcome. Also worth commending is the distinguished voice of actor John Vernon, whose character delivers his message in a plaintive, moaning quality of speech upon returning from the netherworld.



The Crypt Keeper’s impression of Humphrey Bogart borders on cringe-worthy, even by Tales from the Crypt’s usual corny standards.



tales-from-the-crypt-seanceA neo-noir piece, “Seance” pays homage to the 1950s The Vault of Horror comic issue that inspired it—a clever genre choice from a series that, with a few notable exceptions, embodies all the stylistic elements of a B-grade horror film produced during the early 1990s.


Concluding Comments

Despite failing to elicit sympathy for a single protagonist, “Seance” will appeal to horror buffs and film noir fans alike. Specifically, an absence of character development is overshadowed by the aforementioned final scene, the brutality of which can be justified given the “heartless” nature of both victims.


Overall Quality: 7/10


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