Main cast: Natasha Richardson (Fiona Havisham), Bob Hoskins (Redmond), Greg Wise (Justin Amberson), Leslie Phillips (Mycroft Amberson), James Saxon (Evelyn Amberson), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Bob Hoskins
Fatal Caper marks the start of not only the seventh season of Tales from the Crypt, but also the start of a new era: the entire show is now made in the UK, as the Crypt Keeper cheerfully alludes as he seems to have set up shop in what seems like a basement in the Tower of London. Ah, an entire season in British accent. Surely it has to be better than the previous season? Well, if this episode is anything to go by, it is already on its way to erasing the stink of that dire season.
Lord Mycroft Amberson is in a pickle. His heart is failing, and it vexes him greatly that his money will go to his useless sons: the philandering eldest kid Justin and the mean, greedy Evelyn. He has another son, Frank, whom he’d kicked out years ago for the crime of being “different”. Now, he wonders whether that kid would have been far worthier of his inheritance. His solicitor Redmond obligingly introduces him to Fiona Havisham, who specializes in straightening out messy matters of inheritance.
They work out a plan: Mycroft will change his will so that the only way the two older sons will inherit is if they locate Frank within six months of Mycroft’s death. This enrages Evelyn so much that he manages to rant and rave his father into suffering a fatal heart attack. Oops. Now the two siblings really have to track down a brother neither cares for or they will not see a cent. Fortunately, Fiona is more than willing to help whichever brother that will pay her better – as she points out, there is a codicil in the will which stipulates that if only one sibling remains by the deadline, the money goes entirely to that sibling. She can easily prepare a document declaring Frank legally dead, so long as one brother gets rid of the other first. As neither Justin nor Evelyn care for one another, well, let the games begin.
This episode is not scary, but who cares? The cast is just excellent. The late Natasha Richardson’s deadpan wit complements beautifully the late John Saxon’s hilarious portrayal of a miserly git and Greg Wise’s cheery portrayal of lecherous douchebag. Leslie Phillips is appropriately wicked and lecherous under his proper nobleman exterior, and there are so many oh-my-god so-dumb-yet-so-funny twists and turns here that I am so very entertained. I correctly guessed at the twist early, as there are many hints given that Frank’s inability to fit in is due to his “sensitive” nature, but when it comes to be, oh my goodness, the Crypt Keeper’s closing pun just sums up the whole thing brilliantly.
Well, here’s to England then!