Winner Takes All (1998)

Posted on October 26, 2020 in 3 Oogies, Idiot Box Reviews, Series: Ghost Stories

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Winner Takes All (1998)
Winner Takes All (1998)

Main cast: Kimberly Kay (Judith), Richard Kinter (Blaine Croft), Tony Maestrone (Ethan Slade), Oliver Vaquer (Robert), and Rip Torn (Narrator)
Director: Stuart Taylor

Stuart Taylor’s in the director’s seat again? I was only joking when I said the other two or three directors shackled to this show had dropped out from exhaustion and hunger, but now I really am starting to wonder. How many episodes are there left in Ghost Stories? Maybe they told him that, if he would clear out the remaining episodes in the slate over the next few days, they would finally release the hostages in perfect condition.

Winner Takes All takes everybody back to old-fashioned, no-nonsense evil show hour.

Croft International is a Fortune 500 company, with its many, many fingers in many, many well-profitable pies. Perhaps the secret to the CEO Blaine Croft’s longevity and success lies in his unorthodox choice of selection of his successors—as his executives Judith, Robert, and Ian will soon find out. Naturally ambitious, they accept his invitation for a poker game in his place that evening. If any of those three wins, they will be the new CEO. If they lose… well, they will find out soon enough what Croft will ask of them for his winnings.

The final girl is pretty obvious five minutes into the episode: the actress playing Judith is first in the credit listing, Judith dislikes gambling and actually has a back story compared to the other two goons, and she is greatly underestimated by all the men in the room.

Because good acting is such a rare unicorn in Ghost Stories, we should celebrate any that we can find, and the cast of this episode is actually pretty good. Even Kimberly Kay is decent, which is great considering how abysmal female cast members usually are in this series. Richard Kinter is equally campy and menacing as the sinister CEO, and he plays off Ms Kay very well.

The episode itself is quite predictable though. It’s pretty obvious what is happening, especially since Croft becomes younger as the night goes on, even as Ethan and Robert begin to increasingly age as they keep losing. Once I identify Kimberly as the obvious final girl, this episode only sets to prove my guess correct. There isn’t any twist or turn here, just the story of a dastardly CEO getting trounced in his own supernatural game by someone he has grossly underestimated.

Still, for once the cast elevates the material, making this episode far more watchable than it otherwise would be. Hence, three oogies would be just about the right score for it.