Main cast: Aron Eisenberg (Aaron), Scott Fults (Normie), Jason Marsden (Jess), Jonathan Quan (Josh), Graham Jarvis (Grundy), John Glover (The Mortician), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Michael Thau
Eeuw, the main cast include four annoying teenage brats, but if you skip Undertaking Parlor, you will miss out on one of the most chillingly gruesome-yet-funny scenes ever, of John Glover playing this manically cheerful mortician, cheerly eating pizza and guzzling cans of soft drink while he molests and works his thing on a female corpse. It is the crowning moment of everything this series encapsulates, and it is glorious.
Four annoying brats decide to crash into the neighborhood funeral parlor because this is, I guess, how they spend their time, and they witness the above scene while they are hiding in the mortician’s office (he comes in while they are snooping around). Eventually three of them manage to flee when the mortician goes off to greet a visitor, but the fat kid, Norm, is too slow and has to remain hiding while the two men come back into the office. Guess what he overhears? The pharmacist, Grundy, and this unnamed mortician conspire to kill people in the neighborhood for profit! Grundy doctors prescriptions to send his clients into the grave, and gets a cut of what the mortician makes when the dead person ends up the funeral parlor. But will his friends believe him and what will they do to end the villains’ plot?
Now, this episode has two big problems: pretty artificial and bad acting from the kids, and these kids getting saddled with some of the cringiest lines ever. They call each other things like “numb nuts” – do kids call one another that even in the 1990s? Maybe things won’t be so dire if we have, say, two brats instead of four, but with this episode being what it is, it’s cringe time each time these kids do their awkward forced interactions with one another. It’s like the scriptwriter Ron Finley hadn’t known any actual teenage boy since 1943 and had to base what he knew on how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spoke back in those days. One of those brats actually says, “Bodacious bod!” when he skims through a skin mag, and I rest my case.
The story isn’t bad… for a Goosebumps story. These brats pull of tricks straight out of a kiddy story – the only reason the whole thing makes sense if I am to assume that the adult characters here are at the same brainpower level as that of a typical story of this kind. There are some adult elements here, however, so the entire episode feels uncomfortable to watch as it veers from kiddie to adult overtones and back again.
The adults save the episode – John Glover, in fact, is excellent as the creepy, repulsive villain – but on the whole, Undertaking Parlor is mostly cringy than creepy.