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 hearings.
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 Keeper's lair..
"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 arrive.
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.
- Jake

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