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
“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, in 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.
“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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