Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone (1989)

Posted by Mrs Giggles on April 13, 2017 in 3 Oogies, Idiot Box Reviews, Series: Tales from the Crypt

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Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone (1989)
Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone (1989)

Main cast: Joe Pantoliano (Ulric), Robert Wuhl (Barker), Kathleen York (Coralee), Gustav Vintas (Dr Emil Manfred), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Richard Donner

Ulric the Undying is buried alive when the episode opens, but that’s okay, it’s part of his show that made him so famous. Actually, he fully expects to die. He then shares his story in flashback, and here we go.

Our protagonist was once a homeless bum when he is approached by Dr Emil Manfred. Dr Emil offers him a small fortune – his life saving – should Ulric agree to be his guinea pig in an experiment. Our hero naturally sees no reason to disagree. What happens next is that Dr Emil transfers a “gland” from a cat to Ulric’s brain, and Ulric therefore will gain the ability to have nine lives like a cat. Fortunately, this show doesn’t try too hard to explain the science – it’s best to just nod and play along. The two of them soon start a lucrative gig in which Ulric will perform stunts and “die” in front of the audience, only to be resurrected later, and members of the audience can pay extra to be the one to deliver the final killing blow to Ulric on stage. Our hero even finds an adoring girlfriend in Coralee, who eventually becomes his stage assistant and biggest supporter.

Of course, this gig can’t last forever, and Ulric soon wonders whether he’d be better off making the best of his remaining lives without having to share the money with Dr Emil…

Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone is almost all filler, as apparently we need to follow Ulric through every stage gig that checks off one life out of his list of nine, but this time around, the whole thing still remains entertaining to watch. The part when Granny can’t wait to electrocute Ulric on stage is just too cute for words. Joe Pantoliano and Robert Wuhl (who plays the carnival barker on Ulric’s shows) mug and camp up their roles in ways that scream fabulous. The script has many bad puns about death and dying, but these puns make me chuckle more than I cringe, so it’s all good.

Of course, eventually Ulric gets too big for his britches and gets his comeuppance – from a most unexpected source.

It’s hilarious how Coralee eventually becomes corrupted by the fame and money too, and kills Ulric in a manner that he never sees coming. And poor Ulric, he expects the stunt of being buried alive would be his final, eighth death that would ensure that he would be financially set for the rest of his remaining one life. Alas, he forgot that the cat died on Dr Emil’s surgery table to give him its gland, so Ulric actually received eight lives, not nine. Therefore, he has no more lives to spare when he’s lowered into the ground in that coffin. Oops!

This episode isn’t as amazing or memorable as I’d have liked – too much filler, as I’ve mentioned – but it can sure entertain and the wicked twist at the end is pretty delightful. I think I dig this one, alright.

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