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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tales from the Darkside: The Grave Robber starts in the depths of an
ancient Egyptian tomb where archaeologist & thief Dr. Harold Gromley
(Daren Kelly), his female assistant Aileen (Polly Draper) & local
Egyptian guide Ahmed (Ed Kovens) are about to break into in the hope of
finding & stealing valuable artifacts. There they become trapped as a
Mummy (Arnold Stang) awakes & kills Ahmed, he claims that due to a
curse he has to kill anyone who enters the tomb but he is bored of
being a Mummy & wants to prolong the death's of Aileen & Harold who
desperately try to stall him as they search for a way out...
Episode 6 from season 4 this Tales from the Darkside story originally aired in the US during November 1987, directed by Jeff Schiro one has to say The Grave Robber is one of the best episodes from this very variable series. The script by Harvey Jacobs & Donald Wollner starts out like some traditional Mummy film set inside an Egyptian tomb where a curse makes a murderous bandaged Mummy come to life but then turns into a fairly light hearted quirky comedy spoof as the Mummy turns out to have a personality, that he can talk & can be bargained with. There's some amusing dialogue here & the whole set up & story is rather let field & against all expectations that it works very well. Scenes of the Mummy & Harold playing strip poker for instance are hard not to like & there's even a pretty good twist ending although the final shot of Harold crying by himself trapped in the tomb is a little downbeat & at odds with the generally amusing & light hearted nature of The Grave Robber until that point.
Like almost all Tales from the Darkside episodes The Grave Robber is set in a single location, an Egyptian tomb but it's well realised with good production values. The Mummy & zombie special effects are very good although the episode is played more for laughs rather than scares. The opening episode of the fourth season Beetles (1987) was also about Egyptian curses & the like but The Grave Robber is sufficiently different & the far superior episode. The acting is fine from the usual small cast.
The Grave Robber is one of the best Tales from the Darkside episodes, it's quirky, distinctive, fun, amusing & takes a well used horror theme & does something different with it. The best twenty odd minutes of the fourth season so far by the proverbial mile.
Two guys play strip poker with an Egyptian mummy. That's the level of
wit, insight, and narrative depth that we get in this episode of TALES
FROM THE DARKSIDE, entitled THE GRAVE ROBBER, and boy, is it unfunny.
If you think the idea of having an ancient mummy gradually stripping
off his bandages and changing clothes with a couple of American idiots,
then you're welcome to it.
For what it's worth, I hated this story. It's one of those unfunny comedy episodes in which we're asked to identify and sympathise with a couple of bumbling idiot characters and laugh at the idiocy of the situation. Needless to say we don't, and this episode outstays its welcome after about five minutes. I wish I hadn't bothered.
I vividly remember seeing this when I was 12, with my dad and my sister
one Saturday night. It was OK up until the horrific end.
Well, I watched it again this morning on YouTube and was reminded how gut-wrenching it was.
Think about it. The strip poker scenes were pretty funny. Seeing Harold in his underwear...he was pretty cute!
And then...the mummy completely bandages Harold in his wrappings, then leaves the tomb with Aileen!!!!! Man, I was nauseated the whole weekend!
Remember the old 1970s SESAME STREET skits, particularly the Bert & Ernie moments, where sometimes a problem would become bigger at the end, with no closure? It was just like that, except much worse.
Not even the TWILIGHT ZONE or ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS could come up with something this sad. Well, the latter's remake of "Breakdown", where a man is paralyzed after a bad car accident, came pretty close.
When a story scares me, it stays with me years later. And you'd think it wouldn't look as bad as when you were a kid, but...sometimes it actually looks worse!
But again, that's the beauty of such anthology shows...that classic terrifying cliffhanger, which leaves the viewer wanting more.
One should never watch such an episode alone. Always have someone to comfort you if scenes get too disturbing. I learned that the hard way!
I feel much better, having vented my review.
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