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! πŸ™‚

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 protΓ©gΓ© 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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚


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). πŸ˜‰


“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! πŸ™‚ 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!

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My Top Ten Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics

I get really annoyed when a song isn’t named what it should be. Such as: Why the hell isn’t Baba O’Riley by The Who called Teenage Wasteland?! They don’t mention the words Baba O’Riley at all in the song but they sing “Teenage Wasteland” over & over again!

Okay, it doesn’t REALLY annoy me all that much – there are bigger things in life to worry about. πŸ˜‰ But I did think it would make a fun top ten list! Like last week, though, I’m going to be annoying & make this a Top 20 (there were too many!). Feel free to add any you think of – I admit that with this list I’ve only looked through what’s on my iPod so there will be loads of songs I’ve not thought of or not mentioned.

So here are My Top Twenty Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics (ranked roughly according to how much I like the song – I don’t think the order is important with this one):

20. MGMT – Kids (Should Be: Take Only What You Need)
19. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (Should Be: Really Hurt Me Baby)
18. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song (Should Be: Ah Ah Ahhhhhhh AH!)
17. Death From Above 1979 – Black History Month (Should Be: Dunno. Maybe “Hold On”. But that’s a Wilson Phillips song…)
16. Blink 182 – Dammit (Should Be: This Is Growing Up)
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Brendan’s Death Song (Should Be: I’m Almost Gone)14. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues (Should Be: I have no idea… How about “Mixin’ Up The Medicine”!)
13. Interpol – Evil (Should Be: Rosemary)
12. New Order – Blue Monday (Should Be: How Does It Feel?)
11. Daft Punk – Instant Crush (Should Be: We Will Never Be Alone Again)

Top Ten:

10. Public Image Ltd – The Order Of Death
Should Be: This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get

I adore John Lydon & this Public Image Ltd song, which is used prominently in the shower scene in Hardware. Yes! I’ve managed to once again mention the movie Hardware on my blog! Anyway, it’s an awesome song title even if it’s not said – most of the titles in this list are better than my “Should Be” titles.

9. Blur – Song 2
Should Be: Woohoo!

Such a fun song! It’s apparently named Song 2 because it’s two minutes long plus I think it was also the second song on the album? I sometimes play it when timing my kid’s toothbrushing (because kids are meant to brush for two full minutes, right?). Well, it’s a fun way to brush teeth!

8. The Police – Synchronicity II
Should Be: Not sure – maybe “Many Miles Away”

I used to really be into song lyrics as a teen/early twentysomething – you know, the age when you have time to waste on that kind of shit. But I never looked into the lyrics to this one at all until now. Pretty deep stuff with this one! And pretty bleak. This is quite possibly my very favorite song by The Police, who I don’t think really got the credit they deserved. An excellent band & I think I now like this song even more after reading the lyrics but I have to say I still don’t understand the title. I’m too old to think about these things.

7. TIE: Gorillaz – Dirty Harry & Clint Eastwood
Should Be: I Need A Gun & Sunshine In A Bag

I love Gorillaz!!! Do any Americans here know their songs? I think they were far bigger in the UK. I’m actually reading Tank Girl at the moment because it was created by the same guy (Jamie Hewlett) who created this “cartoon band” (one member of the band being adorable Damon Albarn from that picture of Blur I posted for Song 2). These are my two favorite songs of theirs & it made sense to put “Clint Eastwood” & “Dirty Harry” together for this post. The titles are cool. The look of the band is cool. The songs are cool. They should be even bigger than they are!

6. Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five – The Message
Should Be: Don’t Push Me

Seriously. Don’t push me. I’m close to the EDGE! 

5. The Who – Baba O’Riley
Should Be: Teenage Wasteland

I’ve not researched all of these songs but did of course look into this one. Here’s a bit about it from Genius.com:

Initially part of an idea (later thrown aside) of a follow up rock opera β€” Lifehouse β€” to Tommy, Pete Townshend wrote it after his experience at Woodstock. The name of the song is a combination of Meher Baba – an Indian guru that kept silent from 1935 until his death in 1969 who inspired Townshend spiritually, and Terry Riley β€” a musician and classical composer that also inspired him.

There’s actually a lot more to it if you want to read about it at Wikipedia – it’s an interesting read. But whatever the reason for the title, it’s a damn good song.

4. The Cure – Lullaby
Should Be: The Spiderman

I just really really like this song. πŸ˜‰ Love The Cure.

3. David Bowie – Space Oddity
Should Be: Ground Control To Major Tom

Well, okay – I assume this title is a play on words after 2001: A Space Odyssey. I looked this one up too. Turns out this song is actually about alienation. I thought it was about a guy going into space! I’m so damn literal. This song has now gone up even more in my estimation. And I already loved it like crazy before. Because: Bowie. πŸ™‚

2. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Should Be: Not sure but any excuse to get Black Sabbath into a list… How about “I Am Frowning All The Time”

Black Sabbath have quite a few songs where the title isn’t in the lyrics (except Iron Man, of course). I almost used Black Sabbath but the word “black” is said, so – close enough! I do love the lyrics to Paranoid – you can tell that Sabbath come from dark, grey, dreary England… πŸ˜‰

1. The Clash – Train In Vain
Should Be: Stand By Me

Okay – clearly The Clash couldn’t use Stand By Me as the Ben E. King song was such a huge hit. I’m thinking I like The Clash even more than I realized – this song also topped my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs. I love it! And Train In Vain is an excellent title even though I’m sure most people can’t name it.

Almost Mentions:
(I considered these but in looking up the lyrics, I ruled them out as at least one of the words was mentioned)
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
Radiohead – Paranoid Android (how can I have not noticed that in this song, one of my absolute all-time favorite desert island tracks, there’s a voice saying the words paranoid & android in the background the whole time?!)