Three's A Crowd
Season 2 - Episode 5
from Shock SuspenStories #11
Aired May 1, 1990
Directed by David Burton Morris
Directed by David Burton Morris
Worst pun: We've been invited to an anniversary celebration of holy deadlock. To love and to perish. For richer, for horror. In sickness and in stealth. Till death do us part.
What the fuck does in stealth mean? You ran out of ideas you puppet piece of shit.
Holy deadlock! A hubby turns against his wife and her presumed suitor. But is it all a fatal mistake?
This week's episode opens with the Crypt Keeper as a talk radio host. Before your mind can even process what is happening, he asks if you're ready to "bop till you drop? Dead, that is.” Spoilers: there are no DJs in this episode. I don't think anyone even turns on a radio in the entire half hour. Not that you would notice, because before you can even get your bearings or regain mental equilibrium he introduces the episode with a seemingly endless barrage of wedding puns and by the time he gets to the title you feel like you just got out of a 12 round fight. A fight against Evander Ghoulyfield or Mike Frightson, perhaps.
We open to a man (Gavan O'Herlihy) sitting alone in the dark, half submerged in shadows. He's drinking and smoking in silence with the moonlight creeping through the windows serving as the only source of light in the room. Things are going well for this guy. He's a cross between slightly unhinged and a dad waiting for his daughter to get home and explain why she missed curfew. His wife (Ruth de Sosa) enters the room and before she even realizes he's there he demands to know where she's been. Apparently she's been out shopping. With another man. For four hours. There's no need to be upset, because that man bought her a beautiful, expensive coat and is definitely not having sex with her too.
Don't get it twisted, though. Turns out Alan (Paul Lieber), the man she was with, was the best man at their wedding a decade ago. There's absolutely NO WAY that man could be raw dogging his wife into the wee hours of the morning. Our Hero, Richard, takes her explanation as well as I would and pours himself another drink. He lays on some superhuman levels of passive aggressiveness until she gets fed up with his childish attitude and goes to bed. How dare she have the audacity to avoid a fight on the eve of their anniversary and go to bed? Does she really think she's getting the last word in this argument? I'll suck a dick every day and twice on Sundays before I let this fuckin BROAD make a fool out of me. So he continues to do what I'd do and insist she shouldn't let Alan buy her things because he thinks he's just rubbing his face in his success. Not their faces. His face. Alan is deliberately rubbing Richard's nose in his wealth like a dog's nose in a urine puddle. She, like a rational human being, thinks Alan is being a good friend who is treating them to a nice anniversary present. Richard, faced with this rebuttal, decides it's time to pull out the nuclear option and win this argument - scorched earth in this mother fucker. He's going to tear her down so hard there's no way she'll ever be able to build herself back up to talk to him like this again.
Just kidding, he apologizes and starts crying. That's not hyperbole, he starts full on weeping and struggles to form sentences about how scared he is of losing her between blubbering fits. What the fuck kind of episode is this? When does the witch doctor show up? She assures him everything's going to be ok, and he takes this as a cue to put the moves on her. "Hey girl I was just crying my adult tax paying man eyes into your bosom, and the view from there was pretty dope. Has your titty game always been this on point?" Unfortunately our blue hero is left with blue balls as the phone rings and interrupts what was sure to be a super impressive bone down session.
He is infuriated at the audacity of this woman who supposedly loves him to not be sopping wet after he played his insurmountable "I'm sorry I haven't been able to give you a baby" trump card. She pretends she didn't hear anything about a bun in an oven and answers the phone. It's Alan. Richard literally sulks into the bathroom and shuts the door and we hear her say she hasn't told him yet because it wasn't a good time. Dun dun dunnnn.
Cut to Richard, Della, and Alan on Alan’s boat. Della and Alan are laughing and joking around while Richard has decided to voluntary seclude himself and is sitting on the complete other side of the boat, looking at them like the last kid to get picked in dodgeball. He’s a real sad sack piece of shit as well as an alternate universe me where I have red hair and the ability to trick a woman into spending the rest of her life with me.
|Ginger Gary Busey is reluctant to embrace the cuckolding, but he shall soon come around like we all do|
The three of them are driving to the cabin and Alan talks about how he’s jealous of them, how all of his success means nothing when you’re alone. My grip tightens as I try comprehend a man who doesn't have to work a 10 hour retail shift the next day has the nerve to say those words in front of God and everyone. Della insists he has everything a girl could want and he jokingly asks her to name one thing. Richard immediately says “money” with a shitty little look on his face. Alan jokes how he regrets not trying harder to steal Della away from him. Richard does not find the joke very funny and pulls Della closer to him without breaking eye contact. This guy.
They arrive at Alan's massive, gorgeous, and incredibly expensive cabin and pause a moment to take it all in. Richard and his medically hilarious penis do not appreciate being emasculated like this. That night, Della and Alan are getting drunk and catching up, sitting at the table playing cards. Richard is sitting across the room on the couch by himself. She asks if he wants to join them and he gives her a look like she just asked him to grab a pillow and go put their sick puppy out of its misery. He decides he’d rather go get some fresh air. Happy anniversary honey, I’m gonna wander around outside and punchdance my feelings away.
Outside he meets the groundskeeper who tells him how lucky he is to have a beautiful wife. This serves no purpose. He leaves. Richard stares at them laughing and giggling through the window. Thanks for nothing wise friendly groundskeeper, your humorous anecdotes have done nothing to un-fuck my wife.
Richard wakes up in the middle of the night and notices she’s no longer in bed. WHORE. That fucking cheating SLUT probably had to take a piss out of her LOOSE GAPING VAGINA. He tip toes out of the room to hear Alan tell her that Richard’s acting strange and asks if he suspects anything. She responds “oh God I hope not.”
NOTHING SUSPICIOUS WHATSOEVER
Alan asks if she’s sure she wants to do this and she insists that she thought things were fine the way they were, but now she never knew she could be so happy. “The old life ends and the new one begins.” GET IT. SHE’S FUCKIN HIM....OR IS SHE? VIEWER BEWARE, YOU'RE IN FOR A SCARE
She says how it's been so hard not telling him, but Alan insists it'll all be over tomorrow. She comes back to bed and Richard pretends to be asleep, because of course he does. Why address the problems head on when you can bottle your feelings and drink them away later - I write while staring at myself in the mirror, lip quivering and single tear falling.
Richard wakes up the next morning and he’s alone in bed. Again. He looks all over the place for her and sees that Alan has been buying her more stuff. Isn’t that fucking sweet. Oh look, lingerie. He stuffs it in his pocket and continues to pace awkwardly and talk to himself. As you do.
He's alone, shirtless, in his friend's cabin. He's graduated to drinking straight from the bottle. He thinks his wife is cheating on him. He looks up and stares at the mounted deer head on the wall. Unfortunately, it does not start laughing at him.
|The unbridled Irish Rage is about to reach it's tipping point|
That night, Alan comes back to the cabin looking for Richard, who is waiting for him at the top of the stairs. Alan tells Richard he has a surprise for him. Richard tells him he loves surprises, and that he has one for him, too. He tells Alan he’s been practicing, and tells him to turn around. Alan turns around and sees the mounted deer head is covered in arrows, then turns back as Richard pulls out the crossbow. Oh man episode. Oh man.
Richard yells "surprise" then does an insane laugh. Alan laughs nervously and tells him it looks loaded. Richard, still in hysterics laugh-yells "I KNOW. I LOADED IT" and then gets stone faced. It's the best. He backs Alan down the stairs, imitating the sound of Della coming. From sex. With his wiener. He compares it to a small animal dying. I have gone from indifference to loving this episode in a hurry.
Richard shoots him and lingers for a bit, surveying what just happened. Then he says “Alan, you’re bleeding” and laughs like a mad scientist. It's delivered like it's supposed to be a callback from an earlier joke, but it's the first time anyone has bled or mentioned blood. It's the best.
Della comes back to the cabin and is greeted by Richard wearing the expensive coat Alan bought her. He does a quick spin to model it for her, and she realizes there’s blood on it. She asks where Alan is, and he tells her “he’s hanging around here somewhere” and guides her attention to him hanging from the wall
|If you want to know how to turn your episode from a 2 to a 5, this is a good start|
She runs upstairs and locks herself in a room, but Richard is having absolutely none of that. She barricades herself in with a dresser as he tells her he has a present for her. Is it the crossbow? Is it a gun? Nope, it’s the lingerie, which he wraps around his hands to strangle her with. He wants her to wear it for him.
He makes his way through the barricade while wearing her bloodstained fur coat and holding her lingerie while screaming that she's a cocksucking whore. Again, the parallels to my life.
Her only escape is leaping out the second story window. Before she can dust herself off and get back to her feet Richard appears behind her like fuckin Jason and strangles her with her panties. It’s actually really hard to watch. The score, which has been a chilling piano score, goes completely silent. You just hear her gasping for breath and struggling until she dies.
So that was uncharacteristically upsetting to watch. What's normally a pulpy show about mad scientists and voodoo got extremely dark. Richard, dead wife in his hands, has a suggestion. "Let’s go to Alan’s cabin and work on that kid again.” Get the fuck outta here, episode.
He drags her lifeless corpse to Alan's cabin to put some life in that corpse. He opens the door and
It’s a big anniversary party! And he’s gonna be a daddy! Friends and family are there to surprise him. There are smiling faces, "Congrats on being a dad and bringing another shitty kid into the world" signs, and of course kazoos and streamers. We get that fantastic moment as everyone stops cheering and throwing confetti and notices he's dragging her dead body behind him.
|He had hoped against hope he wouldn't need to bring out the emergency "sorry for your loss" balloons|
Shot of her face, fade to black. Before you can finish saying "holy shit" out loud to no one in particular, it cuts straight to the Crypt Keeper blowing into a party horn, throwing confetti, and saying "now that's what I call dragging your wife to a party." The shift from brutal, realistic violence to a puppet throwing confetti is too much for me, and the last thing I hear before blacking out is "Richard was the guest of horror."
I can't say enough how happy I am to come back from such a long layoff with a great episode. For the first 10 minutes or so, I was completely bored by it. I haven't seen every Tales from the Crypt episode, but I remember a whoooooole bunch of them near the end being about cheating wives being god damn fucking sluts ruining a MAN's life and having to pay for her whorish behavior. So when we spend 10 minutes with Richard sulking around and hearing Della and Alan drop inexplicable hints in ways that absolutely nobody talks, I begin to lose interest. I'm looking at the timer wondering how long until he gets his revenge and then whoopsy daisy wacky twist she wasn't cheating and then the Crypt Keeper says "that's no way to get a HEAD in life" and I question what I'm doing with my own.
Honestly, that's about exactly how the show plays out. He goes crazy, he's in the wrong, SURPRISE, awful pun, credits. The episode thinks it's a lot sneakier than it actually is, but it makes up for it by being so cruel. Richard's performance completely carries this episode and his transition from a sad sack who constantly feels sorry for himself to man running around a cabin yelling insane drunken rage induced monologues is the best. Every single time he and Della make eye contact at the cabin he looks like he's one minor inconvenience away from flipping the table over and throwing punches. The actor commits 100% to being a crazy drunken pathetic failure. It's a fantastic performance, especially considering the actor hasn't really done anything of note. His dad was the Old Man in Robocop, and that's good enough for me.
A show that is usually laced with synthesized background music and shitty puns is carried by a crazy man, a haunting piano score, and a complete lack of humor. A lack of humor if you're a normally functioniong human being, that is. I found the entire last act as hilarious as it was violent. It's nearly bloodless, but the strangling scene is easily the most intense violence I've seen in the show so far. I went from completely apathetic to setting up straight in my seat and paying more attention to sitting silently with mouth agape. The build to his breakdown is fantastic, the violence is quick but brutal, and the ending is perfect.
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There's 2 small footnotes I wanna add here that really don't have any place in a review of the episode itself but made me laugh my stupid face off. That last gif of the Crypt Keeper blowing into a party horn? That was used in a promo for Kids WB's Exscreamly Scary Saturday. Hey kids, after some rockin Pokemon and Jackie Chan Adventures you can chillax with us while this mondo lame grown up strangles his pregnant wife to death and then drags her to some BORING cabin (it probably doesn't even have cable LOL) to have violent sex with her corpse. All this right after a brand new Animaniacs.
The other thing is how the comic ended. Obviously some pulpy comic from the 1950's isn't going to end with graphic strangulation and postmortem coitus. The story is pretty similar, but there he doesn't kill them with his bare hands, he simply sends them off to an inevitable death involving Alan's car and a bridge that washed away in a storm. He realizes the mistake he's made before they end up dying and rushes to call and warn them. And then...
|Greatest generation my ass. Your stories are bad and you should feel bad.|
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