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"Tales from the Crypt" Yellow (1991)

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: YELLOW (TV) (Robert Zemeckis, 1991) ***

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
27 October 2007

Not really horror, this is actually a variation on one of star Kirk Douglas' best films – Stanley Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY (1957). The episode is similarly set on the frontlines of WWI combat; Douglas, however, has George Macready's old role (with Dan Aykroyd acting, more or less, as the defense counsel of the soldier accused of cowardice). The latter, then, is surprisingly well played by Douglas' own real-life son Eric (the characters are likewise related in the story). Apart from offering a good role for Lance Henriksen as well, we get an unflinching display of carnage here (not to mention, some unexpected smattering of foul language). Generally compelling, thought-provoking and poignant, this emerges a nice try all round.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The futility and the slaughter

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
28 July 2013

One of Kirk Douglas's very few television roles was in this episode of Tales From The Crypt. He plays an American general in World War I who has the distasteful duty of dealing with his real life son Eric who plays a cowardly lieutenant who leaves Sergeant Lance Henriksen out in No Man's Land on a patrol. The dying Henriksen condemns him and Kirk has no choice but to order a court martial for his son.

At the beginning of the show it is emphasized that the company had been 49 straight days on the line in combat and World War I saw the futility and slaughter that was trench warfare. A stalemate of four years where gains were measured in yards. Eric who never wanted a military career and did it only to please his father now faces death.

One of Kirk Douglas's best films is Paths Of Glory also with a World War I setting and dealing with a whole division of French soldiers who've decided they just had enough. The parallels between that classic and this television episode are too obvious to ignore.

And in real life Eric Douglas predeceased his parents the most awful tragedy that any parent can face. Both Douglases, Henriksen, and Dan Ackroyd as a captain give fine performances in one of the best Tales Of The Crypt episodes ever done. No supernatural here, the hell created is war, a man made invention.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"My son is not yellow..."

Author: Foreverisacastironmess from ukwitchcountry
31 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now this was *real* terror! The truly horrific nature of 'honour' on the path to glory is laid bare in this episode which right from the impressively vast opening scene of warfare carnage at the beginning, is one you can tell in a good way that is anything but a traditional Tales From the Crypt story. It's very much an anomaly of the series - containing no supernatural elements, schlock, grim irony, overly-grisly gore for gore's sake, or technically horror unless of course you count the horror of war or that of a father sacrificing his own son just for the sake of saving face, which despite not being done in a overblown spectacular fashion, I find to be one of the more bold and shocking moves that the show ever did. I enjoy it a lot, I like how it's different than all the others, I think the story's beautifully balanced, it's very sombre and serious, very engaging, I love how authentic the WW1 looks and feels, the sets are excellent all around, especially the church where the father sentences the son to death while the hanging image of Christ looks on in the background. How appallingly biblical.. This story needed the extra bit of time than usual to flesh out the characters and hopefully make one care enough about them and the impossible situation that by the time it reaches the tense climactic moment it has a greater emotional impact. And who the hell cares if you can see the twist coming, that's part of what makes a great episode like this so effective, when you know what's coming as it builds to the big finale, but it still works anyway. And besides which, this show being what it is, the outcome was never really in doubt! It does have a twist ending but it's a realistic twist, as even the stony general is unable to completely witness the execution of his own flesh and blood and gives the game away as he averts his eyes for one terribly telling moment... However you may look at it, it's a coldblooded heartless act and a very cruel deception, he lied right to his son's face about the nature of the lethal volley of the firing squad, perhaps partly to spare him fear, but doubtlessly mainly just so that he could die putting up a false pretence of courage and dignity. Only it was a lie, they were not blanks, and as the old general looks down at his son lying in a ditch of corpses knowing the dark secret that only he ever will, he doesn't look particularly regretful or pained that it came to such an unspeakable course of action, he looks satisfied with an outcome that has allowed him to keep his twisted code of honour intact. And it's not as if he was hopelessly bound by the wartime protocols of the day, it was his decision, he could've punished his son, a man who was no soldier and was only ever in the army in the first place to please his father, by locking him up for life for his cowardice, but it was like it was all about the shame to him and the pride of his military family name, he was just too proud to stop. Such a chilling performance. Kirk Douglas was fantastic and for me he's really what makes this one great by the subtle strength of his commanding presence alone. And it has to be said it's saddening and sort of eerie how you know, in real life Kirk actually would go on to outlive his son Eric and see him die after years of addiction. It was good to see Lance Henrikson in an episode again in a strong bit part after his earlier turn in the shortest episode, "Cutting Cards", and this one is the longest. The only stuff I don't like is how often Lance snarls out yellow, it felt a bit silly, and also the stupid smoking boots after the execution, I get that it's like the saying "blow you out of your shoes", but it just seemed like a very inappropriate comedic image to place in that moment. Whatever, overall it's another great ep by Rob Zemekis and an excellent and different kind of tale on which to close the third season. Have a good one folks!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of the best episodes.

Author: krugstillo3 from Brazil
24 May 2014

If you never saw this episode, go and see it.This is my first review, because this episode deserves one review.Everyone should see this episode.

It for sure was one of the best tales of crypt episode ever, (the ONLY other one that was so good also was the one of the criminal handcuffed with the cop)......It was not a "supernatural" kind of episode, but, hey, war is also something terrifying.

This episode could easily be a movie, a really good war movie,something like Full Metal Jacket or Deer Hunter, i am not kidding.......

By the way, it also has Kirk Douglas and Dan Aykroyd.This is an episode that should became a movie, it is such a good story, and also kind of heartbreaking.Maybe horror fans don't find this one so great, but if you like horror and war movies, go and watch it, seriously, stop whatever you are doing and go watch, don't be a yellow( slang for a coward soldier on war according to this episode), and watch it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent change of pace non-horror episode

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
22 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1918. The 49th day of continuous combat against the Germans in France. Craven Lt. Martin Kalthrob (a fine performance by Eric Douglas) chickens out and deserts his men during a crucial mission. Martin's hard-nosed father General Kalthrob (a superbly steely portrayal by Kirk Douglas) has no choice but to execute his own son by firing squad after he's found guilty of cowardice. Director Robert Zemeckis, working from a smart and absorbing script by Jim Thomas, John Thomas, A.L. Katz, and Gilbert Adler, builds a tremendous amount of tension, offers a gritty depiction of the horrific reality of war, and delivers a vivid and credible evocation of the period setting. The ace acting from a tip-top cast rates as a major asset: The intense and utterly convincing chemistry between the senior Douglas and his real-life son keeps things cracking throughout, the always dependable Lance Henriksen contributes a stand-out turn as angry and profane ramrod Sergeant Ripper, and Dan Aykroyd excels in a refreshing straight dramatic part as the pragmatic Captain Milligan. Moreover, there's a good deal of graphic carnage, the opening battle set piece is staged with real skill and brio, and the inevitable grim ending packs a potently chilling emotional punch. The slick and agile cinematography by Don Burgess gives this episode an impressively lavish look. Alan Silvestri's robust'n'rousing score does the stirring trick. A worthy closer to the third season.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A war story

Author: Juan Sarmiento from Netherlands
11 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An extraordinary achievement for Tales from the Crypt.

One of the best things about this show is that not all episodes are horror -- and usually the ones that aren't, are top-notch.

This episode is about a cowardly soldier during World War 1, his father is a general and feels deeply embarrassed for his son.

During his most important mission, he fails to do anything and lets his men die. This causes his father to sentence him to death.

The guy, Martin, is afraid to die so his father explains to him that he will swap the bullets in the guns with blanks. The only favor he asks of his son is to pretend like he is courageous during the 'fake' execution.

Well, turns out that he didn't swap the bullets with blanks, he just wanted to have his son die like a 'man'.

The episode is very well written, especially for this show's standards. And the performances are top-notch, loved to see Lance Henriksen make another appearance.

Overall, one of the best, if not the best episode of the show.

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You'll get a real bang out of this!

Author: kapelusznik18 from United States
29 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS*** With the 1918 German spring offensive threatening to brake through the American lines General Kalthrob, Kirk Douglas, has an added headache on his hands with his chicken liveried yellow bellied milk, instead of whiskey a man's drink, sucking son Lt. Martin Kalthrob, Eric Douglas, messing things up by chickening out when the chips are down on then collapsing, for the allies, Western Front. Given a chance by his dad the general to redeem himself by leading a unit into no-man's land to fix a broken or cut, by artillery fire, telephone line Martin screws things up so bad by not alerting his men that their soon to be under German attack that they get wiped out almost to the last man as he saves his sorry a** by hiding in a foxhole!

With later Martin claiming that he bravely held off the German attack and killed at least a dozen German soldiers single handedly his BS story falls apart when the surviving member of his ill fated unit Sgt. Ripper, Lance Henriksen, in reporting to his dad Gen. Kalthrob, just before he died from his wounds, that he's full of it. In fact that left his men to be slaughtered by the Germans as he hid himself out in a ditch in order to save his own hide! Tried and convicted of cowardice under fire and responsible for the death of a half dozen troops under his command Martin is sentenced to be shot at sunrise the very next day by non other that his father General Kalthrob.

***SOILERS*** While awaiting his fate Martin is visited by his father the general who admits that by babying him that he's as responsible for his cowardly actions as well as he is. In a last attempt to get his son to stand up and act like a man Gen. Kelthrob devises a plan where Martin will avoid being killed by him putting blanks in all the firing squad's members rifles. This has the gutless Martin get the courage to stand up to the firing squad knowing that he'll, by faking to be shot, survive it and impress those in attendance, including his dad, that he isn't the coward that everyone says he is.***MAJOR SPOILER*** Knowing that he can't do anything to give is son Martin the courage that he lacks Gen. Kalthrob did the next best thing: Make him feel that he's invincible to the firing squad's bullets and thus, by standing tall as he's about to b be shot, he'll show everyone that he has what it takes to be a soldier in him not realizing what he was truly facing!

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"Those damn Germans, they're everywhere!" A different sort of Tales from the Crypt.

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
18 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tales from the Crypt: Yellow is set 'somewhere in France' during '1918' where after 49 continuous days of fighting Lieutenant Martin Kalthrob (Eric Douglas) orders his mens retreat as he realises his men are fighting a losing battle. Back at HQ & Sergeant Ripper (Lance Henriksen) reports to General Kalthrob (Kirk Douglas) who happens to be the Lieutenants father & claims his son is a 'yellow' coward, General Kalthrob confronts his son who is afraid to die & says he can get him transfered from the front line if he goes on one last mission to prove he isn't a coward. His son agrees but the mission goes badly & this time three soldiers die as a result of his cowardice which gets back to the General who sentences his son to death via firing squad but can he really go through with the execution of his own son...

This Tales from the Crypt story was episode 14 from season 3, the second of three Tales from the Crypt episodes to be directed by the show's regular producer Robert Zemeckis this isn't what you might expect from this series but I thought it was decent enough all the same. The script by Jim Thomas, John Thomas, A L Katz & Gilbert Adler was based on a story from the 'ShockSuspense Stories' comic book & definitely isn't horror or supernatural, it isn't really even a thriller as it feels more like a war drama with a trademark twist at the end which isn't really shocking but rounds things off nicely enough. This is maybe the longest Tales from the Crypt episode that was made, at almost 40 minutes in length compared to just about every other episode I've ever seen which run for less than 30. Despite not being horror orientated I thought Yellow had a decent enough story & passed the time harmlessly enough, overall I actually quite liked it.

This one looks really good & obviously had decent money behind it, the production values are very good with authentic World War II period detail. There's no much gore although there are some battle scenes as someone has their hand shot off, there are some injured soldiers covered in blood, with their guts hanging out & one with a missing leg. Apparently Yellow was one of three Tales from the Crypt episodes which were made for another anthology series along with The Showdown & King of the Road which never happened so they were given Crypt Keeper (John Kassir) opening & closing segments & packaged as Tales from the Crypt episodes & that would explain why they are so far removed from the usual Tales from the Crypt stories in spirit. The acting is good by a impressive cast including Henriksen, Dan Aykroyd & father & son Kirk & Eric Douglas but where's Michael?

Yellow is a decent little World War II story with a moral message that is an OK way to pass 40 odd minutes but if your looking for a traditional Tales from the Crypt episode forget it. A strange way to end season 3.

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