Director: John Sutherland
Writer: George A. Romero
Cast: Mabel King, Larry Manetti, Vernon Washington, Therese Pare, and Paul Sparer
Composers: Ken Lauber and Hilary Bercovici
Air Date: 11/23/1986
Unscrupulous ad executive Henry Hogan (Larry Manetti) forms a partnership with cookie shop owner Ruby Cuzzins (Mabel King), allowing her to profit from her unusual baking skills. Trouble arises when Helen Hogan (Therese Pare), overly suspicious of her husband, stumbles upon Henry’s supply of “special” cookies.
Combining voodoo tropes with gingerbread cookies, “Baker’s Dozen” should be commended for its original approach to the black comedy genre. Additionally outstanding are the performances of Larry Manetti, Mabel King, and Vernon Washington—all of whom offer unique and villainous interpretations of each character.
Reminiscent of a sadistic Aunt Jemima, African American actress Mabel King deserves praise for her portrayal of Ruby Cuzzins. Especially effective are Ruby’s demented facial expressions while tormenting her husband, who writhes in agony whenever his wife plays with a ball of cookie dough—an amusing but disturbing twist on the concept of black magic.
“Baker’s Dozen” should be noted for its mean-spirited execution, with every character exhibiting cruelty and callousness toward one another. (Many horror fans may, however, admire this episode for utilizing a cookie shop setting—a seemingly innocuous and child-friendly location—to introduce several of the most vile, heartless characters ever featured in a Tales from the Darkside story.)
Also problematic is the second twist in the final act, which, though clever, is reinforced by an awkward and superfluous line of exposition.
“Baker’s Dozen” benefits from hateful antagonists, memorable performances, and chilling plot devices. Therefore, this episode should appeal to enthusiasts of the horror/comedy crossover genre.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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