Director: T.J. Castronovo
Writers: Granville Burgess and Allen Coulter
Cast: Allen Garfield, Bradley Whitford, Robert Costanzo, Elyssa Paternoster, Kristine Greco, Jon Jacobs, Manziana Garfield, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 2/28/1988
Desperate to sell one of his scripts and gain acceptance in the movie business, struggling screenwriter Tom Dash (Bradley Whitford) seeks assistance from an acquaintance named Donald (Allen Garfield). Later revealing himself as the Devil, Donald agrees to help Tom with his film career—at a great cost.
Revealing that nothing in life comes without a price, “The Deal” deserves praise for its laudable message. Nevertheless, this episode is marred by weak conflict, campy humor, and poor production values.
When disguised as a Hollywood director, the Devil mentions a horror veteran from Pittsburg with the ability to “make blood like you can taste it”—a clever nod to make-up artist and Tales from the Darkside contributor Tom Savini, known for Creepshow, Maniac, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Presented as a cartoonishly evil figure, the Devil fails to convey his intentions in a credible, let alone menacing, fashion. Instead of spreading corruption throughout the film industry, for example, the Devil spends his time stealing the souls of wannabe actors and script writers—a silly and clichéd premise for a horror/fantasy narrative.
In addition to his petty motives, the Devil wears a ridiculous tail and glue-on horns after revealing his true nature to Tom. Viewers may therefore struggle to accept the Devil as a serious villain, whose personality and appearance border on the absurd.
Featuring a character who sells his soul for a film deal, this episode provides a statement, albeit tongue-in-cheek, on the challenges that many face when attempting to join the entertainment industry.
Combining devilish antics with references to the horror genre, “The Deal” contains all the elements of a series classic. However, this offering will likely evoke criticism for its recycled tropes and lack of tension/atmosphere.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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