Director: Rodman Flender
Writer: Larry Wilson
Cast: Ernie Hudson, Joan Chen, John Laughlin, Phil Fondacaro, Kathryn Howell, Margaret Howell, John Kassir, Granville Ames, Doug Jones, and Reginald Hunter
Composer: Sylvester Levay
Air Date: 10/6/1993
Aided by his young wife Connie (Joan Chen), Zambini (Ernie Hudson)—a clown/cook with psychic abilities—prepares and successfully employs a “mind” blowing circus act. Problems occur when Johnny (John Laughlin)—a handsome fire eater—and Connie grow enamored of each other, provoking the wrath of Zambini.
By introducing carnival tropes (i.e. midgets, conjoined twins, and a most intelligent gorilla with homicidal tendencies) in a sci-fi/horror setting, “Food for Thought” may appeal to fans of “Lower Berth” and “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone”—two classic, sideshow-themed installments of Tales from the Crypt. This offering should, however, be criticized for its cheesy gore effects and lack of suspense leading into the climactic scene.
Having portrayed Zambini as a menacing villain, Ernie Hudson deserves praise for his performance. Particularly ominous is the booming, resonant quality of Zambini’s voice, which, when used to address or make demands of Connie, will likely perturb viewers of a sensitive nature.
Despite engaging in adulterous activity, Johnny and Connie display a variety of kind and gentle characteristics that, at least on a surface level, serve to evoke sympathy from the audience—much in contrast to the other carnival performers (especially Emmet the dwarf), the sleazy antics of whom can only be described as offensive.
During the climax of “Food for Thought,” an enraged gorilla escapes from her exhibit, severs a man’s head with a meat cleaver, and devours a handful of brain matter after returning to her cage—a highly unrealistic, if not thoroughly ridiculous, execution (no pun intended) of an otherwise clever and original plot twist.
Similar to many Tales from the Crypt episodes, “Food for Thought” demonstrates how jealous, controlling, or manipulative behavior can poison relationships and destroy innocent lives.
“Food for Thought” is a mediocre episode of Tales from the Crypt. Series enthusiasts may nevertheless enjoy this entry, which, though occasionally absurd, is made watchable by the presence of Hudson—a talented character actor known for Ghostbusters and The Crow.
Overall Quality: 5/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.