Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993) Review

**I’ve done this review as part of the Tales From The Crypt blogathon over at Channel: Superhero. Every day this month, someone will be reviewing a different episode of Tales From The Crypt so head on over there & check out all the participating entries! 🙂

My contribution below is a review of the episode Forever Ambergris, starring Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi.

Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993 – Season 5, Episode 3)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Roger Daltrey, Steve Buscemi, Paul Dooley, Marshall Bell, Lysette Anthony, John Kassir, Tim Ahern, Titus Welliver, Luis Antonio Ramos, Kevin Benton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A jaded, has-been photographer plots the demise of his younger, talented protégé when they go on assignment in Central America.


No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man

My Opinion:

For some reason, I never saw many episodes of Tales From The Crypt although the stories are the type of thing that I like. They tended to have some sort of twist, right? Growing up, one of my first favorite TV shows was The Twilight Zone (it remains my very favorite now) so it seems like I should really try to check out more Tales From The Crypt episodes. I’d probably like the stories even though the “horror” side of things isn’t really for me so much. I’m really looking forward to reading all the other entries in Channel: Superhero’s blogathon this month! 🙂

So what did I, a bit of a wuss when it comes to gore, end up choosing as my episode to review? A thoroughly disgusting one that would give David Cronenberg’s body horror films a run for their money! Damn. And I only chose it because it starred Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi, which I thought was pretty damn cool.

As we’re meant to discuss the episode in its entirety as well as the tale’s “twist”, I’ll be doing that now & I’ll also be including the most gruesome images I could find. So, SPOILER & NASTY IMAGE WARNING! Here we go. 🙂


Steve Buscemi is a Happy Jack at first…

In this tale, Dalton (Roger Daltrey) & Ike aka Isaac (Steve Buscemi) are war photographers. Dalton was once the best but he’s lost his touch and the younger & more talented Ike looks set to achieve big success while Dalton becomes a has-been. It was funny that Buscemi was this “young guy” compared to Daltrey (but this was back in my generation of 1993 so I guess he was a lot younger then). Anyway, I love Buscemi and you can’t help but like his friendly & enthusiastic Ike.


The kids are alright

Ike is a big fan of Dalton’s work and invites him over one night to have dinner & meet his girlfriend Bobbi (Lysette Anthony). Dalton is immediately smitten with the gorgeous blonde Bobbi (especially after later that night when he peaks through the bedroom door to watch her having sex with Ike. With her fully naked & on top, of course. Sorry, guys – I couldn’t find an image of that). 😉


“Hey, baby. They call me The Seeker.”

Naturally, the already jealous Dalton becomes more & more obsessed with Ike’s life and, when they’re sent on an assignment to war-torn Central America, he devises a plan to get his career back (and hopefully become the substitute for Ike in Bobbi’s life).


He wants her squeeze box…

While on the plane to Central America, Dalton is visited by a (ghost??) played by Marshall Bell (a total “Hey, who are you?” guy who, to me, will always be Gordie’s asshole father in Stand By Me). He tells of a village in which the population was decimated by a disease caused by some sort of germ warfare. This is when Dalton’s evil plan fully takes shape.


How do you think he does it?

He convinces Ike, as he’s his “friend”, to go to the village because he’s heard rumors of devastation that will guarantee Ike the opportunity to capture some once in a lifetime photos & to achieve the level of fame that Dalton once had. Does the trusting Ike do as Dalton says & visit the village while Dalton remains at the camp? You better you bet!

As soon as Ike gets back & joins Dalton in their tent, it soon becomes obvious that something isn’t right with Ike. First this happens:


Dizzy in the head and I’m feeling bad

Then his eye pops right the hell out:


I can see for miles

Then the evil Dalton, not content with just stealing Ike’s roll of film which Dalton will pass off as his own once Ike has taken the magic bus to heaven, decides to put his cigarette out in Ike’s eyeball:


See me, feel me

Afterwards, back in America, Dalton visits Ike’s girlfriend Bobbi to give his condolences and, of course, to hopefully win her affections as they had some pretty strong sexual chemistry when they first met. But Bobbi has other plans as she knows the photos published after that fateful trip weren’t Dalton’s as claimed.


There has to be a twist

After smoking some weed together, Bobbi and Dalton have sex, during which Bobbi reveals that what they smoked was sent to her by Ike from that contaminated village in Central America. She’s given them both the virus as she doesn’t want to live without her beloved Ike and wants to ensure that Dalton pays for Ike’s death. So as they screw, the virus causes her spine to burst and she bleeds all over Dalton as her skin melts off. Dalton freaks out & runs to the bathroom just in time to see his nose drop off into the sink. Plop! He’ll no longer play by sense of smell…


He won’t get fooled again!

Thanks for letting me join in on this blogathon! 🙂 I’m going to go watch more Tales From The Crypt now. I suppose I should give this a rating like I do with my movie reviews. I can’t really compare it to other episodes as I’ve not seen many but I did enjoy it & loved that it starred Daltrey & Buscemi, who looked so young! Definitely a little too gross for me but I do love an occasional body horror film and the special effects on Buscemi, although of course dated, really looked just as good as a lot of older movies that probably had a much higher budget. Definitely an episode that should be seen by fans of the show if they haven’t seen it already.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Oh, by the way, I wondered what the heck “ambergris” was so I looked it up at Wikipedia:

Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, faecal odour. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.

Hmm. Make of that what you will from the story.

Here’s the Crypt Keeper pretending to be a photographer during the episode. His model is a bit chubby by today’s standards. Of course, her head falls off anyway.


They’re all wasted!

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Review

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken, Michael Nicolosi, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, Glenn Plummer

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five different criminals face imminent death after botching a job quite badly.

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My Opinion:

Okay…. I think it was almost a year ago that I watched this movie so I guess I’ve put off reviewing it for long enough. It’s a favorite of a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless (ERIC!) and he and another blogger who shall remain nameless (MARK!) were always shouting (well, typing) “Boat Drinks!” at each other and I was like “What the hell is that all about?”. I was never in a big hurry to watch the “movie where they shoot people up the butt” but it was on TV one day so I thought “Screw it – let’s see what this Boat Drinks thing is all about”.

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was better than I was expecting based on what it’s most famous for (the butt thing. sorry – I normally avoid spoilers on this blog but, seriously, it’s such a well known fact about this film & probably why I avoided it for so long). I have to say it’s actually a pretty solid crime drama with some really great characters and some very memorable lines & scenes. It seems to get compared to (or accused of ripping off) the previous year’s Pulp Fiction a lot but, in some ways, I think it’s actually a better film (I find Pulp Fiction overrated). I think it’s closer to, although not as good as, Reservoir Dogs. It has the same sort of interesting characters, amusingly witty banter, shady characters, violence, and the always entertaining Steve Buscemi. I suppose it just didn’t have the “style” the Tarantino films have so it didn’t get the same level of attention. Which is sort of a shame because, if you haven’t seen this, you’re missing a fantastic performance from Christopher Lloyd. He was the best thing about the movie for me and the “boat drinks” scene between him & Andy Garcia is the definite highlight of the film. It’s a wonderful scene! I’m happy I saw the movie just for Christopher Lloyd and that one scene.

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There are other good things about the movie, though. Lloyd was my favorite but each character in this group of misfits is entertaining and they all have very different personalities, meaning that everyone who watches this will have a different favorite character. I have to say that Treat Williams as a violent lunatic was a real treat for a change (ha!) and I always enjoy seeing Steve Buscemi in a movie even if he’s playing a similar sort of role as he has in a lot of other films. The two female characters (Fairuza Balk & Gabrielle Anwar) are of course pretty unimportant in this “guy movie” (typical) but I don’t really have too much of a complaint there – they get a bit more screen time than other female characters in similar “movies for dudes”. My only real disappointment, unfortunately, was with Christopher Walken. I like Walken most of the time but, in this, he’s a little too “Christopher Walken”. If you love him, you’ll like him in this as he’s being his usual, crazy sort of character but it almost felt like he was bored in this one. I don’t know… I think it’s one way in which Pulp Fiction has this movie beat – Walken was more interesting with a watch up his ass.

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Summary:

I think that Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, although not my usual sort of movie, is a very good film within its violent crime genre. I think it actually deserves more praise & recognition than it seems to have gotten. This is probably down to it coming out after both Reservoir Dogs & Pulp Fiction and being accused of being a Tarantino rip-off. It’s not as good as a Tarantino movie but it’s also much better than a lot of the other films that could be accused of ripping him off. I suppose it could be argued that there would be no Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead if there was no Reservoir Dogs but I don’t think that matters – plenty of films are similar and it’s still a good movie in its own right. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of this genre. I’ll also make a bold statement here & say that I actually enjoyed this movie more than another similar film that also came out in 1995 – The Usual Suspects. The ending of that one is of course great but, overall, I liked this one more.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**Speaking of one of those bloggers who likes this movie, I participated in Eric’s popular Shitfest celebration of horribly bad movies over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view my entry, a review of the annoying Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, HERE. 🙂

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