Director: Jeff Schiro
Writers: Harvey Jacobs and Donald Wollner
Cast: Arnold Stang, Polly Draper, Daren Kelly, Ed Kovens, and Paul Sparer
Composer: John Cote
Air Date: 11/1/1987
Trapped behind an impenetrable wall, archaeologists Harold (Daren Kelly) and Aileen (Polly Draper) devise a creative plan for escaping the grasp of Ahmed (Ed Kovens)—a wisecracking mummy with a short temper. Specifically, the bumbling duo challenges Ahmed to a game of strip poker—with a clever twist.
Combining character high jinks with a Universal Monster theme, “The Grave Robber” serves as a spiritual predecessor to Stephen Sommers’ remake of The Mummy. Nevertheless, horror/comedy fans may wish to avoid this episode for its juvenile humor, annoying dialogue, and mean-spirited ending.
Featuring a creepy Egyptian tomb, a mummy with rotten bandages, and an opening sequence reminiscent of a classic horror movie intro, “The Grave Robber” contains all the elements of a chilling and ominous Tales from the Darkside entry. (Unfortunately, writers Donald Wollner and Harvey Jacobs fail to develop their premise in a compelling or serious direction.)
While “teaching” Ahmed the rules of poker, Harold and Aileen make every effort to deceive the mummy and undermine his good fortune as a result—a shameless and poorly executed rip-off of the Fizzbin scene from “A Piece of the Action,” wherein Kirk and Spock invent a nonsensical card game in order to free themselves from Iotian gangsters.
Also problematic is the appearance of Ahmed, who, in addition to resembling a humanoid turtle, fails to emulate the imposing manner of Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., or Christopher Lee—three of the most iconic and terrifying actors to assume the role of an Egyptian mummy.
“The Grave Robber” is an abysmal episode of Tales from the Darkside. Especially awful are the comedic routines explored in this offering, which suffers from a complete absence of mummy-themed puns and pop culture references.
Overall Quality: 1/10
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