Director: Ramón Menéndez
Writer: Scott Nimerfro
Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Kimberly Williams, Benicio Del Toro, Hal Williams, Max Grodénchik, Esai Morales, John Kassir, Ron Carlson, and Wayne Grace
Composer: Pray for Rain
Air Date: 11/23/1994
Inspector Martin Zeller (Terry O’Quinn), a newly appointed fire marshal, attempts to shut down the strip club where his daughter Hiley (Kimberly Williams) was once employed. When forced to pay for Hiley’s college tuition, however, Zeller accepts a bribe from establishment owner Puck (Esai Morales) and his associate Bill (Benicio Del Toro)—a decision that requires Zeller to consider an alternate method of “closing” the aforementioned strip club.
Despite featuring worthwhile performances from Terry O’Quinn, Kimberly Williams, and Benicio Del Toro (known to horror buffs for starring in the remake of The Wolf Man), “The Bribe” is an underwhelming episode of Tales from the Crypt. Specifically worth noting is the absence of creepy or unnerving subject matter (excepting Max Grodénchik’s portrayal of a mentally disturbed firebug), which may evoke criticism from fans of this series.
It should be mentioned that “The Bribe” fails to embody the tension, atmosphere, and campy humor that one would tend to expect of a Tales from the Crypt installment, instead combining soap-opera tropes with tragic undertones. That being said, the gravitas of O’Quinn (whom science fiction enthusiasts will likely recognize from Lost and The X-Files) adds a compelling edge to the conflict of Martin Zeller—a loving and dedicated father who must choose between his obligation to a low-paying, not to mention extremely dangerous, public service job and securing the future happiness of his only daughter.
In addition to being somewhat clichéd and predictable, the twist ending of “The Bribe” offers a mean-spirited, anticlimactic resolution to Zeller’s predicament—an aspect that may upset viewers of a sensitive nature.
Emphasizing the everyday trials of a working-class father whose actions—though quite heinous—seem nearly justified in light of his circumstances, “The Bribe” is a mildly engaging piece of dramatic fiction. Nevertheless, this episode should be avoided by those who enjoy Tales from the Crypt only for its horror-themed and/or comedic offerings.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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