Tales from the Crypt, Season 2, Episode 7: "The Sacrifice"
Early in “The Sacrifice”, James (Kevin Kilner), an oily-slick life insurance salesman unimpeded by an excess of ethics, answers big shot potential client Sebastian Fielding’s (Don Hood) ribald comments about Los Angeles being the “money, pussy and bullshit capitol of the entire world” by agreeing that money and sex are natural companions.
As a Southern-fried multi-millionaire for whom no amount of money will ever be enough, and no scheme can ever be too sordid, Don Hood is a delight, even if it does seem wildly incongruous that a wealthy, grown-ass Southerner worth a fortune would choose to wear a Nike sweatshirt, as he does here during his initial meeting with James.
James’ vulgarity has even infected his parrot, who squawks “money and pussy” and sometimes just “pussy” and exhibits little to no interest in crackers.
This is the lurid, sleazy world of Tales from the Crypt, where sex and money have a way of inevitably leading to death and murder. In these terror tales, first comes lust, then murder and then some manner of violent comeuppance, often supernatural in nature. That’s not always the case, of course. There’s nothing particularly spooky about “The Sacrifice.” Its monsters are strictly of the metaphorical sort: greed and lust and envy.
In the hyper-sexual world of Tales from the Crypt when sexy people meet each other we know instantly that they’re going to end up fucking, particularly if the erotically charged glances they exchange are accompanied by a sultry saxophone solo.
When James spies cold-hearted femme fatale Gloria (Kim Delaney) he knows that he must have her. He doesn’t seem particularly discouraged to discover that she is Sebastian’s trophy wife, and, in true femme fatale form, isn’t at all averse to her fat, vulgar, much older and wealthy husband dying a violent death, particularly if there’s a fat payday in it for her.
It’s a tale as old as time, or at least Double Indemnity: amoral insurance salesman gets involved with a sexy schemer with gams that won’t quit and a heart made of black ice and dreams up a scheme to murder the inconvenient hubby in a way that will make them both rich, or, more likely, end up with both parties in jail or getting fried in the electric chair.
James and Gloria’s relationship is pure Cinemax sleaze set to the aforementioned sexy saxophone solos and filled with cliched erotic images of slow-motion boning in “artful” silhouette. James and Gloria fall deeply and instantly in lust. Who needs a rich husband when you have a sexy lover who lives on a boat and is willing, even eager, to kill for you?
The duo succeeds in removing the primarily obstacle to their relationship from the equation when James pushes Sebastian off the railing of his penthouse crib and he plummets dramatically to his death. Alas, it turns out that Sebastian never got around to signing the papers that would make his wicked widow the beneficiary of a multi-million policy.
The scheming lovers face an even bigger impediment to happy ever after in the ominous form of Jerry (Michael Ironside), a shadowy figure from Gloria’s past who not only witnessed James pushing Sebastian to his death but has photographs of the crime he’s more than willing to share with the cops if they don't meet his demand.
Jerry professes to be motivated by love rather than greed but he’s really motivated by lust, cruelty and obsession. “The Sacrifice” is sleazy even by the series’ exceedingly lenient standards. In one particularly jarring exchange, Gloria tells a mortified, love-struck James that Jerry abused his power over her to recruit a bunch of filthy street people to watch them have sex.
For a sharp, successful insurance agent willing, even eager, to commit murder, James comes off as a patsy and a stooge leading to a third act twist that announces itself early and often.
“The Sacrifice” feels way too similar to three episodes that immediately precede it: “Til Death”, “Three’s A Crowd” and “The Thing from the Grave.” It’s an overly familiar mediocrity for a show that’s capable of so much more.
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