Horror. Comics. Off-beat.

‘Tales from the Crypt’ nostalgia recap: “The Thing from the Grave”

Season 2 | Episode 6 | Originally Aired May 8, 1990
Written & Directed by Fred Dekker

Over a year ago, I started putting together nostalgia write-ups for Tales from the Crypt on the now-defunct community website for Entertainment Weekly. The site appears to still be on life support (kinda-sorta) and looks wonky and broken, but—if you’re interested—you can find my recaps here.

So, while the EW fan site is static and sad, I’ve decided to revive my Tales posts—right here on Bloody Popcorn!

And where are we exactly? Well, here’s where it gets a little eerie.

After going back and realizing the super-depressing “Three’s A Crowd” episode was my last write-up, I found myself ready to watch subsequent ep: “The Thing from the Grave.” This episode stars Miguel Ferrer in his first of three Tales appearances. And this was also the day Miguel Ferrer passed away.

title-card

To be honest, diving into the story felt a little awkward at first, but I was quickly reminded at how great an on-screen bastard Ferrer can be. And the experience turned into a nice little tribute for the departed actor.

So, without further ado, let’s have at it.

The Recap

As per usual, the ever-delightful Crypt Keeper led us into the story, but not before showing off his “ghoulie magazine” Playdead – which really sounds like it should be made for zombie dogs.

After the intro, we first see a dude speeding down a secluded road. And of course, it’s nighttime. He stops at a cabin where he’s greeted by Mitch (Miguel Ferrer). The other guy (Kyle Secor) spits out a few worried, ambiguous questions —“Where is she? Is she alright?”

Mitch calmly replies “yes” before brandishing a gun and shooting the guy. “Was that the shoulder she used to cry on?” Ah, okay… we now know the deal.

mitch-miguel-ferrer-2

After being shot again, the guy runs off into the woods and trips like a 17-year-old Friday the 13th victim.

Mitch is quick to catch up. He pushes the dude into an empty grave and starts piling on the dirt. Mitch’s last words to this unfortunate soul: “She’s not yours; she’s mine.”

Now let’s jump back in time to meet the illustrious Stacy (Teri Hatcher).  She’s on set, modeling in beach attire—looking hot and getting cutesy with the photographer. So, who’s the photographer? Ah, it’s our dearly departed victim from the previous scene. His name is Devlin Cates.

cates

After witnessing the bit ‘o flirting, Mitch steps in from the sidelines to have a chat with Cates. Mitch is quick to explain his role in Stacy’s life: manager and fiancé. And the poor girl is getting uncomfortable with Mitch’s pushy behavior.

Cognizant of Stacy’s uneasy vibes, Cates gently tells Mitch to leave—and maybe get a coffee. The gentleman that he is, Mitch responds with a “shove the camera up your ass.”

After Mitch does in fact leave, Cates, in a gallant—if not slightly creepy—way, comforts Stacy. To show that he is on her side, he gives her a key to his apartment—just in case she ever needs it.

Later that night, while Cates is snoozing in a chair, in comes Stacy. And in the backdrop of some amazing faux sunset lighting, the two kiss! What’s more, Cates gives her a necklace bearing the Mayan God of Truth—basically it holds people to promises.

sunset-kiss

While putting the charm around her neck, Cates sees bruises on Stacy’s neck. At that moment, he promises to be there for her – to protect her. No matter what

And outside, watching from his car (and listening into the conversation) is Mitch. Obviously.

What is presumably the next day, Mitch gives Cates a call. Mr. Cool Fiance tells Cates that he knows everything, all while remaining calm. But then he slips in that Stacy is in (vague) trouble. She’s staying at a cabin in the woods somewhere. And with that, Mitch convinces Cates to go see her.

BOOM! We’re back to the opening scene where Mitch kills Cates.

A week or so later, Stacy’s at home trying to call Cates. Obviously, the dude’s not answering. And in walks Mitchy, knowing full well what’s going on. So, as with Cates, Mitch tells Stacy he knows everything about her lurid affair with the photographer.

He feigns an apology amid a mish-mash of dull emotional garbage (i.e. “you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me”). Mitch also questions Cates’ feelings. The guy hasn’t called in a week – maybe he met someone else?

To check out the deal for herself, Stacy heads to Cates’ place. She sees the week-old groceries on the counter and listens to Cates’ voicemail … which features a call from Mitch … who then suddenly appears to chloroform “his” girl into submission.

Later at the infamous murder cabin, Stacy’s tied up on a bed, wearing only lingerie. In walks Mitch—and a gun. In the most cringe-worthy line possible, the man says to Stacy, “Just ‘cause it’s over doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun first.”

stacy-on-bed

Stacy screams for HELP—but Mitch tells her that no one is coming. Not even her dear lover, because, you know Mitch killed him. But outside, not too far from the cabin, the unmarked dirt grave begins to move—and (an undead) Cates is back!

dead-cates

Inside, Mitch gets a little too rapey, but thankfully that is (permanently) paused when he and Stacy hear a moan coming from outside. He grabs the gun and heads out.

Upon exiting the cabin, Mitch comes face to face with a noble—albeit rotting—Devlin Cates. After a futile attempt at shooting the revenge zombie, Mitch runs off into the woods. Cates follows.

Both men fall into the freshly opened grave and in a sweet bit ‘o gore, Cates cuts off Mitch’s fingers and writes “SHE’S MINE” onto nearby rocks. Dead Cates pulls the surrounding dirt into the plot, burying them both alive. Well, Mitch was alive.

The last shot we see is a free Stacy, enveloped in her apartment’s heart-shaped neon light. Subsequently making me want more (or any) neon lights in my own home.

stacy-neon-heart

Crypt Keeper Sign-off

“That leaves poor little Stacy fresh out of boyfriends. Oh well, I’m sure she’ll dig one up somewhere!”

Final Thoughts

In a tight 21 minutes, Dekker pulls off an obvious, yet thrilling bit of storytelling. And what makes this cliché scenario rise above its plot peers is plain and simple—it’s Miguel Ferrer’s performance. He is effortlessly a bastard. Mitch is brash and shitty, and certainly not someone with which you’d want to hang out. And yet, you delight in his irredeemable horridness because Ferrer is just so damn good at it.

Memorable Quotes

“Whatever happened to thou shall not kill?” – Cates
“Fuck it.” – Mitch


To check out all of my Tales from the Crypt recaps, go here!

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Categorised in: Tales from the Crypt, Television, Uncategorized

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  1. ‘Tales from the Crypt’ nostalgia recap: “The Sacrifice” – Bloody Popcorn

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