Director: David Odell
Writer: David Odell
Cast: T.J. Castronova, Barry Dennen, Cameron Milzer, Brad Fisher, Derek Loughran, John Marzilli, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 10/25/1987
After kidnapping a puppeteer named Aldo D (Barry Dennen), mobster Eddie Minelli plans a vile show for his moll Tiffany (Cameron Milzer). Specifically, Eddie demands that Aldo replace his original puppet with the murdered corpse of Don Paulie (Derek Loughran)—a rival gangster with a message from beyond the grave.
Featuring the demonic dummy trope in a mob-themed setting, “No Strings” will appeal to fans of the horror/gangster crossover genre. This episode also deserves praise for its topnotch performances, supernatural plot twists, and ominous lighting effects.
Horror fans will enjoy “No Strings” for its gory and macabre elements, which parallel those of a typical Tales from the Crypt offering. Disturbing highlights include a dummy with nightmare face, a cadaverous puppet show, and the nauseating sound of meat hooks penetrating wet human flesh.
Also unnerving is the performance of Barry Dennen, whose portrayal of Aldo—a weird, neurotic little man who lives in fear of the so-called gods of puppetry—offers an original and bizarre interpretation of the tortured artist stereotype.
“No Strings” may evoke criticism for the make-up of Paulie’s body, which appears overly pallid for a supposedly fresh corpse.
“No Strings” is a creepy and surreal installment of Tales from the Darkside. Especially worth commending is the main premise for this episode, which provides a terrifying cross between The Godfather and “The Dummy”—a classic entry of The Twilight Zone.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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