Werewolf Concerto - Timothy Dalton in Tales from the Crypt
Lightning crackles, rusty gates
open, a mist shrouded house, cobwebbed chandeliers, whimsical music by
Danny Elfman. It can only be Tales from the Crypt. Tales from the Crypt
was a cult horror anthology television series based on the infamous and
influential (everyone from Stephen King to George Romero grew up loving
them) fifties EC horror and suspense comics published by William Gaines.
The wonderfully lurid and
colourful comics (which were rather gruesome and risque - although
tongue-in-cheek and with their own twisted sense of morality and karma)
offered all manner of deaths, monsters, zombies, murders, ghosts, and
general macabre mayhem stirred by greed, lust and envy until parents
began to notice what their children were reading and the comics were
banned - even becoming the subject of Congressional subcommittee
The television series began in
1989 and ran for seven seasons until 1996. The series had very solid
foundations right from the start with Richard Donner, David Giler,
Walter Hill, Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis as executive producers and
was consequently able to attract some notable directors and actors. It
was also a HBO cable show and so didn't have to worry about censorship.
There is our recurring host for
each episode too (he performs the Rod Serling framing function if you
will) - the "Crypt Keeper", a very cheeky (I always think there is a
bit of John Lydon in the Crypt Keeper) animatronic puppet who looks
like a zombie and makes all manner of deliberately terrible puns ("It
was so hack-citing, I actually got scared for a moment - I thought my
heart had started...") as he introduces the story we are about to see.
The Crypt Keeper works because
he's such a likeable character. I think great credit must go to the
puppeteers and John Kassir (who supplied the voice) for giving him so
much personality. Finally, there is the simple fact that this series is
an awful lot of fun and the production values are high. Very glossy
comic book come to life with some scenery chewing performances.
Usually with anthology shows you
have to endure your fair share of duds to get to the great episodes but
very rarely do you encounter a dull Tales from the Crypt episode. All
(with a few exceptions) are only about twenty-five minutes long and so
never threaten to outstay their welcome.
I think when you look on the
series as a whole it only really begins to creak somewhat in the last
couple of seasons, especially the last when, for reasons of finance,
production was moved from the United States to Britain and every story
seemed to revolve around a country mansion with an all British cast. It
just wasn't the same. We are going to look at a 1992 episode from the
fourth series of Tales from the Crypt starring none other than Timothy
Dalton. So, let's dim the lights and prepare to enter the Crypt
"We interrupt your regularly
scheduled terrorvision program to bring you a bit of culture. That's
right, kiddies. Tonight, instead of rotting your grave matter, I'm
going to improve it, with a tasteful tale about someone who just can't
fright the feeling. I call it, Werewolf Concerto..."
Werewolf Concerto was directed
by Steve Perry and written by Scott Nimerfro. This episode is something
of a missed opportunity and never quite lives up to the premise. It's
fun for the cast alone though, including Bond alumni Timothy Dalton and
Walter Gotell as two of the main characters playing a deadly game of
cat and mouse.
The scene is a swanky mountain
resort temporarily cut off from the outside world by a mudslide. No one
can get in and no one can get out. A series of grisly murders have led
the resort manager Antoine (Dennis Farina) to declare that a werewolf
is at large and it just so happens that a suave werewolf hunter named
Lokai (Timothy Dalton) is one of the trapped guests. Can Lokai mingle
and work out who sprouts fur and fangs during the full moon?
A werewolf whodunnit sounds like
a lot of fun - Tales from the Crypt meets The Beast Must Die. Despite
the terrific cast though Werewolf Concerto never really takes advantage
of the story in the way you want it to and anyone expecting red
herrings and memorable supporting characters to be abounding will
probably be disappointed.
The double twist is very
predictable (and partly stolen from a second season Crypt episode) and
then flipped in reverse. Werewolf Concerto is far from a total
loss though with good production values and the late Dennis Farina (who
usually played mobsters and bombastic characters) on fine form and cast
against type as the stressed resort manager.
Timothy Dalton is all
twinkle-eyed charm with his deep thespy voice and genuinely seems to be
having a whale of a time acting in this. Dalton got some flak for being
too serious as James Bond but productions like this and The Rocketeer
show he was perfectly capable of humour and playing lighter more
tongue-in-cheek material in confident fashion. It makes one wonder what
a third Dalton James Bond film might have been like if they'd lightened
the tone a little.
They don't play up Dalton's Bond
status too much as he has longish hair and baggy casual clothes (in the
early nineties style). There is some gun play though and a possible
Bondish reference where he's fastidious in regards to how his breakfast
and juice should be prepared.
Mrs Griswold herself, Beverly
D'Angelo, is well cast as a vampish guest that you'll probably figure
out long before the last act arrives. Dalton and D'Angelo enjoy some
flirtatious sparring. You'll recognise Reginald VelJohnson too as he
was Sgt Al Powell in Die Hard.
Werewolf Concerto never really
makes good on the appealing Agatha Christie type premise but the
direction is solid (a blue strobed werwwolf murder reels us in at the
start) and there are some grisly gore drenched moments in the Tales
from the Crypt tradition. The monster make-up and special effects are
mostly confined to the final scenes but are pretty good when they
On the whole this is definitely
an episode that could have been better but it's fun anyway to see
Timothy Dalton enjoying himself and sharing the screen with Walter
Gotell at a time when they were both (just about) still more or less
part of the James Bond series.