Showtime, already airing the half-hour weekly “Fallen Angels,” again tackles the short-story concept with three brief dramas a la HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt ,” aimed at chilling viewers. Scary moments are scattered throughout the teleplays by Billy Brown and Dan Angel, with a few jittery jolts to grab attention (particularly during the first episode), but the writing and stories are pedestrian.
John Carpenter, appearing as a blatantly coarse coroner in the wraparounds, summons up plenty of grisly spirit in his directing of “The Gas Station,” filmed in Pear Blossom, Calif.
Alex Datcher is on duty by herself in an all-night gas station in the sticks, where an unidentified killer’s ranging about. The story’s holes are big enough to accommodate a truck, but Datcher gives the story an edge and Carpenter keeps the jump factor high.
Shifting to another style, Carpenter offers a second outing in “Hair,” in which Stacy Keach gives a first-rate perf (at one juncture he offers a masterfully spontaneous guffaw) as a man obsessed about going bald.
Instead of an out-for-a-shock one-act, the drama goes in for accumulative horror. After Keach visits hair whiz David Warner, Keach’s hair grows, all right , but the cool Warner’s not at all what he’s supposed to be.
More complex than the first two segs, “Eye,” directed tightly by Tobe Hooper, sets up Mark Hamill as a half-blind ballplayer who receives a new right eye at the hand of Dr. John Agar.
The transplanted eye is from a dead man whose character begins to take over Hamill’s personality — hardly a new idea. Twiggy plays Hamill’s upset wife, while Roger Corman turns up as another doctor and Sean McClory reads from the Bible.
None of the three playlets breaks barriers, and the writing’s perfunctory, but the productions are good, the casting interesting.
Gary Kibbe’s camerawork is superior, and Daniel A. Lomino’s production designs are starkly appropriate. Ed Warschilka’s editing is terrif.
The crude “Morgue” sequences, with writing that’s overly ripe, are no match for HBO’s Crypt Keeper segs but should amuse juves. Hooper and Tom Arnold appear as keepers of the morgue.