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
Con 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 figure 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.
A 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.
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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