The Secret (1990)

Posted by Mrs Giggles on September 3, 2017 in 4 Oogies, Idiot Box Reviews, Series: Tales from the Crypt

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The Secret (1990)
The Secret (1990)

Main cast: Larry Drake (Tobias), Mike Simmrin (Theodore), Grace Zabriskie (Mrs Colbert), William Frankfather (Mr Colbert), Georgann Johnson (Miss Hagstead), Stella Hall (Miss Heather), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Michael Riva

For a moment, I wonder whether I had accidentally turned into a Goosebumps episode by mistake, because The Secret is all about a kid versus adversity of the spooky kind. Here’s the synopsis to illustrate better what I mean.

One fine night at Caines Orphanage, twelve-year old Theodore is finally adopted by the childless Colberts. He isn’t too sad to be away, as only Miss Heather shows him any kindness. The manager of the orphanage, Mrs Hagstead not only insists on no one ever speaking of Theo’s parents or his behavior, she isn’t keen on housing a kid who is past his “adoptable” age. She also gets annoyed by his tendency to sneak out of his room, through his window every full moon to show up at the door the morning after all muddy and disheveled. Gee, I wonder what that kid’s secret is.

The Colberts are… eccentric. Mrs Colbert is over the top dramatic, while her husband is more stoic. They begin fattening Theo up with plenty of desserts, snacks, milkshakes, and more. He begins noticing odd things, such as bars outside the windows, or how they only show up only at nights. Gee, I wonder what their secret is. Lonely, Theo soon strikes up a friendship with the butler Tobias. As you can guess, Tobias is into the Colberts’ secret plan for Theo, and his fondness for the boy soon leaves him conflicted. Will he let Theo know of what the Colberts have planned for him? What will happen to poor Theo anyway?

There are some unexpectedly hard-hitting emotional moments here as Tobias and Theo strike become closer, and while Mike Simmrin can be a bit wooden at times, he and Larry Drake strike up a pretty good and believable rapport. Thus, when the inevitable happens, I do feel choked up a little despite myself.

Oh, and anyone who has been paying attention will see the twist coming – that the Colberts are vampires who have inadvertently taken in a werewolf brat. The sight of a pint-sized werewolf chasing after an adult vampire is far more hilarious than I expected, and I really have to laugh out loud as I rewatch that scene more times than I’d like to admit. Mind you, the showdown between werewolf and vampires contain a brief gory scene that may seem starkly adult compared to the kiddie-like Goosebumps vibe of the episode leading up to that point, but that’s to be expected from an episode in this series, along with the unintentionally hilarious make-up and special effects.

The Secret is actually a pretty dark episode, as it deals with a child all alone in the world, facing a very real threat on his life. However, there is plenty of bad puns or corny lines that are not only fun but also blend in very well with the rest of the episode. Grace Zabriskie, incidentally, is fabulous with these lines. As a result, this is one episode that has emotional moments, comedy, and some absurdly bad and funny moments that only add to its campy charm. On paper, this one shouldn’t be a fabulous season-closer, but in reality, it just is.

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