Opening The Crypt Keeper’s Vault
By: Chris Darkes - January 29, 2015
Category : Nostalgia
Growing up, I never had HBO. In fact I never had cable at all. That was okay though, because I usually spent most of my time at my neighbor’s house watching every movie we could possibly get our hands on. Lucky for me my neighbor’s uncle had an obsession with movies. Everytime he finished one, he would send it over to my neighbor. I think he knew they had four kids and had to be entertained somehow. The stack of movies could have put Blockbuster out of business. (Turns out they didn’t need help with that.) They were all neatly displayed in his basement. I had never seen so many.
One night, we had finished up watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.The movie ended, and the television flipped on to HBO. There was this eerie voice. The screen went from fuzzy to clear. This unforgettable image of a frightening skeleton talking directly to the audience. He had an aura about him. With a different hat, he could have been one of those New Orleans fortune tellers in a past life. Despite the subject matter, he kept it light: making corny jokes, bad puns, and introducing stories. But it was all really engaging.
Neither my friend nor I said anything, we were just plugged in. All the stories were in the same vein of The Twilight Zone, but with the gore and graphic nature of the material, it was aimed exclusively an adult audience. Hence, why the program usually started around 10 or 11 p.m. (We probably shouldn’t have been watching it, but hell, it was a great episode.) As it would turn out, we caught one of the tamer episodes…
The title left something to be desired, but it didn’t matter, the message was great. It was called, “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone.” So we start off at this carnival, where a barker (Robert Wuhl) presents Ulrich The Undying (played by Joe Pantoliano), a performer who will be buried alive for several hours and dug up but with one twist…he will die, but will come back alive. Ulrich jumps in the coffin, and begins talking to the viewer. He claims he’ll die, but won’t stay that way with a smile on his face. There’s already something untrustworthy about this guy. Then we flashback to a really dirty alleyway. Where Ulrich is sleeping in a box. A Mad Scientist offers him a large sum of money to do an experiment. With the cash in his face, he accepts immediately.
The scientist explains he found the gland that gives the cat its nine lives and seeks to transplant it into Ulrich. He wakes up from the operation to find out the procedure worked at the expense of the kitten’s life. To test the theory, the scientist shoots him, and recovers almost immediately.
Next he convinces Ulrich he needs more funding to test more subjects, and asks him to become a sideshow freak. Ulrich accepts. The first stunt is a Drowning tank where he will be placed in for an hour in front of an audience. He comes back alive. A showgirl named Carly takes a liking to him. His next death is to be hanged in front of a crowd. The act pulls in a ton of money for the carnival, the scientist, and for Ulrich himself.
He isn’t satisfied with just splitting the profits, so for his next death he gets into a car crash purposely killing the scientist, and Ulrich comes back to life.
The crowds begin to grow at the carnival exponentially, and his next act involves electrocution. Followed by a target for wealthy people to shoot at him for a large fee. An arrow through the heart ends him this time. Again a speedy recovery. As he begins counting his enormous piles of money, Carly stabs him in the back literally, grabbing all his money and vanishes out the door.
Desperate to make his money back, he blackmails the barker claiming he’s solely responsible for the ticket sales. He gets 100% of the profits for his final act…being buried alive. We are now all caught up to where he talks to the viewers talking about how this act will make him a fortune. Though, he feels bad for the cat who’s life he took.
I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a must see for anyone who is a fan of irony, or anyone who wants to be introduced to Tales From the Crypt. I love fictional stories involving greed, blackmail, deception, abusing of power, and twist endings. They usually have a great message, and are entertaining to watch.