Director: John Drury
Writer: Dick Benner
Cast: Charles Ludlam, Maria Manuche, Jim Wlcek, Timothy Jenkins, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Tom Pile
Air Date: 5/3/1987
Covered in terrible skin lesions, Bubba (Charles Ludlam)—son of a powerful conjuror—discovers that his wife Anna Belle (Maria Manuche) is having an affair with handyman Claude Altoose (Jim Wlcek). With the help of Judge Jean Baptiste (Timothy Jenkins), Bubba searches for a solution in the magic spells of his late mother.
“The Swap” is a cruel, unpleasant episode of Tales from the Darkside. Horror fans may nevertheless enjoy this offering, which benefits from the skin-crawling (no pun intended) make-up designs of Ed French.
Actor Charles Ludlam deserves credit for his nauseating portrayal of Bubba—a man whose blackened feet, mottled skin, and misshapen hands may appeal to enthusiasts of gross-out horror. Specifically gruesome are Bubba’s romantic gestures toward Anna Belle, which will evoke disgust from those of a sensitive nature.
“The Swap” may invite criticism for its lack of relatable characters. Anna Belle and her boyfriend Claude, for example, fail to elicit sympathy after plotting to murder and steal from Bubba. Viewers may likewise struggle to connect with Bubba, who comes across as too revolting for the audience to care about his predicament.
In addition to its poorly written characters, “The Swap” suffers from a predictable and mean-spirited twist ending. (Anyone with a sense of justice may, however, enjoy the horrible fate that befalls Claude and Anna Belle in the final scene.)
Combining voodoo tropes with fantasy elements, “The Swap” operates on an intriguing narrative premise. Unfortunately, this episode is marred by odious characters, weak performances, and underwhelming plot twists.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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