Tales from the Crypt Episode 76: Surprise Party

General Information

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Writers: Tom Lyons and Colman deKay

Cast: Adam Storke, Clare Hoak, Jake Busey, Rance Howard, John Kassir, Bette Ford, Michele Landry, and Constance Wiggins

Composer: Walter Werzowa

Air Date: 12/28/1994



Tales from the Crypt Surprise PartyAfter murdering his father (Rance Howard), Ray Wells (Adam Storke) inherits an old, ruined farmhouse. Unfortunately for Ray, the property of his late father has a dreadful curse attached to it.

“Surprise Party” benefits from a creepy, zombie-related twist in the climactic scene. Frequent pacing and tonal inconsistencies do, however, prevent this episode from achieving the status of a true horror classic.



By offering a surprise revelation in conjunction with traditional horror tropes (e.g. thunderstorms, suspenseful music, and zombies covered from head-to-toe in charred flesh), the ending of this episode will no doubt appeal to the majority of Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts.



Nearly the entire first act of “Surprise Party” is dedicated to a corny, black-and-white flashback of Ray’s final moments with his father—an aspect that, Tales from the Crypt Surprise Partyin addition to being rather clichéd, severely hampers the pacing of an otherwise gripping, horror-themed episode.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

Also worth noting is that prior to their confrontation in the final sequence, Ray and Frank (Jake Busey) spend only a few moments together, leaving little opportunity for a heated rivalry to develop between both young men. Therefore, viewers may question why Ray resorts to killing Frank (or so it would seem) while engaging in a mere fist fight with him.



Tales from the Crypt Surprise PartyEmploying a supernatural event to punish a remorseless killer, “Surprise Party” should be commended for delivering justice in a satisfying, if somewhat hackneyed, manner.


Concluding Comments

“Surprise Party” is a compelling, albeit uneven, episode of Tales from the Crypt. Especially frightening is the curse of Ray’s farmhouse, the manifestation of which may remind the audience of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.


Overall Quality: 6/10


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