Main cast: Tim Curry (Pa Brackett, Ma Brackett, Winona Brackett), Ed Begley Jr (Judd Campbell), Yvonne De Carlo (Mrs Jones), Kathe Weeks (Stella), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Gilbert Adler
The fifth season of Tales from the Crypt kicks off with a triple bang. I don’t know what they offered Tim Curry, but he goes all out in Death of Some Salesmen by playing not only the patriarch of a redneck family, but also the wife and the daughter of that clan. As you can imagine, it’s three times the hideousness, three times the scenery chewing, and three times the gloriousness.
Ed Begley Jr is Judd Campbell, an immoral salesman who prides himself for being able to sell anything. When the episode opens, he casts aside a woman he’d tupped the night before, mocking her that his promises to let her follow him out of the city were just “salesmanship” to get her into his bed. He then proceeds to cheat an impoverished widowed Lily Munster out of her entire life savings, if only to show you how bad a person he is. Therefore, when he tries to cheat a family, the Bracketts, only to be lured into their own deadly salesman-unfriendly games, it is easy to root for the worst kind of pain to befall him big time.
Ordinarily, Death of Some Salesmen is an episode with a silly plot that is very dependent on coincidence and happenstance. But all is forgiven because Tim Curry is just FABULOUS. His Pa is vile, his Ma is vile, and his Winona is a nightmare of a higher level as that lusty pug-ugly young lady practically and cheerfully forces herself on Judd in a scene that is both hilarious and terrifyingly cringeworthy. The facial expressions, the exaggerated tonal mannerisms, the creepy-funny make-up… just divine.
And every time Judd smugly thinks that he has the upper hand, the rug is pulled out from under him, and it’s just too much fun.
There is nothing spooky here, just people undone by their greed at the hands of the macabre and gruesome Brackett family, but at the same time, there’s Tim Curry to bring on his own brand of beautifully creepy. That scene of Winona and Judd will either terrify you or leave you in stitches, or maybe both. Either way, Death of the Some Salesmen is the life of me.