Filmmakers can at times become too enamored with the technology available to them. Robert Zemeckis — fresh off his triumphant incorporation of historic figures into “Forrest Gump”– relies almost solely on that process in this “Crypt” installment. While the handiwork itself is impressive, the episode falls victim to the “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” syndrome, existing solely to showcase the technique.
“Tales From the Crypt” has been notable through its tenure for allowing actors and directors to indulge themselves in such a manner while bringing a tongue-in-cheek approach to the macabre.
In this case, director-exec producer Zemeckis and writers-producers Gilbert Adler and A L Katz dredge up the visage of Humphrey Bogart by using some nifty camerawork, Bogart’s super-imposed visage and Robert Sacchi’s skill at vocally impersonating the icon.
Once that’s accomplished, however, there’s scant reason for this half-hour to exist, other than a confusing minimalist plot about the character’s mysterious past, his double-crossing wife (Isabella Rossellini, looking every inch Ingrid Bergman’s daughter) and the plastic surgeon (John Lithgow) who gave him that face.
The writers do work in plenty of references to and lines from old Bogart movies but it’s still a poor man’s homage to film noir. In addition, there’s an awkwardness to the camera’s-eye-view.
Zemeckis has more fun with a “Gump”-spoofing intro featuring the Cryptkeeper (voiced by John Kassir) observing, “Scary is as scary does” and “Life is like a box of shock-olates.” It seems ol’ Forrest has been doing some writing on the side.