Director: David Odell
Writer: Clive Barker
Cast: Phil Fondacaro, Tony Carbone, Thomas Newman, Danielle Brisebois, Barbara Shapiro, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 11/8/1987
On a mission from Beelzebub (Thomas Newman), a midget demon known as the Yattering (Phil Fondacaro) pays a yuletide visit to pickle salesman Jack Polo (Tony Carbone) and his daughter Amanda (Danielle Brisebois). Prevented from physically touching Jack prior to claiming his soul, however, the Yattering grows increasingly frustrated with his lack of progress.
Forgoing the surreal and demonic atmosphere of Hellraiser, “The Yattering and Jack” is a mediocre effort by Clive Barker. Notably, this episode may evoke criticism for its juvenile humor and excessive camp value—both of which detract from a potentially ominous and engaging premise.
Though marred by cringe-worthy slapstick, “The Yattering and Jack” benefits from the father-daughter chemistry of both main characters. Specifically, Amanda demonstrates a touching concern for her father, whose nonchalant attitude over poltergeist activity stems from a loving, paternal desire to protect his daughter from a dark family secret.
Serious horror fans may take issue with the Yattering, whose antics will likely appeal to only the youngest of viewers. While attempting to “damn” Jack, for example, the Yattering knocks over a bookshelf, cooks a live cat in the microwave (off-screen), and shoves a raw turkey onto the top of a Christmas tree—hardly the material that many would expect from Barker, one of the most well-known contributors to the horror genre.
Also problematic are the physical aspects of the Yattering, who, portrayed by dwarf actor Phil Fondacaro, fails to embody the sinister, malevolent presence that one might associate with a demon from hell.
“The Yattering and Jack” operates from a clever and imaginative concept. Unfortunately, this Tales from the Darkside entry suffers from a silly tone, an absence of horror imagery, and a clichéd depiction of Satan himself.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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