Season 4 of horror anthology Tales From the Crypt opens with an episode directed, bizarrely, by Tom Hanks, and it’s a solid outing for the show.
Tales From the Crypt season 4 premiere “None But the Lonely Heart” was directed by Tom Hanks, of all people, so how did the blockbuster star fare in his rare foray into horror? Debuting in 1989 and running for seven seasons, Tales From the Crypt was a landmark in television horror. The blackly comic anthology featured some then-seriously shocking sex and violence as the show was aired on HBO and thus free from network television’s restrictions. Tales From the Crypt took full advantage of the creative freedom this entailed.
However, the success of Tales From the Crypt was not entirely down to the show’s adult content. Sure, gore and scares got horror viewers on board, but it had a campy sense of humor that few horror anthologies before or since have been able to nail, and the show earned a huge fanbase because of the careful balance between dark laughs and authentically creepy moments. However, as the series gained popularity, later seasons of Tales From the Crypt could also boast some high-profile guest stars – both in front of and behind the camera.
An impressive stable of helmers shot episodes of Tales From the Crypt, including the late, great Richard Donner, William Friedkin, Robert Zemeckis, and Predator 2 director Stephen Hopkins. However, when the show’s fourth season premiered, the episode “None But the Lonely Heart” was directed by an entirely unexpected big-name guest. Tom Hanks helmed the spooky outing and did a surprisingly solid job of it, too. This episode sees screen veteran Treat Williams guest star as a predatory gold digger who marries and murders a string of lonely elderly women, only for the con man to get his gruesome just desserts in the deeply creepy ending.
Surprisingly, given Tom Hanks’ genial screen persona, this episode is a typically nasty piece of work from Tales From the Crypt. It features some of the show’s more effectively grotesque makeup work in action when the con artist’s ex-wives emerge from the grave to drag him down with them. Like horror veteran Wes Craven, Hanks of course finds time to fit a cameo for himself into the episode, with a brief appearance as the proprietor of a video dating service. It is this service the desperate criminal uses to hunt down vulnerable old dears, meaning Hanks has a minor but still pivotal role.
It’s a predictable enough episode, but it was often easy to guess the twist of Tales From the Crypt’s best outings, and the joy of the series comes from the slow-burn, blackly comic route the characters take to their inevitable but well-earned fate. Indeed, by the time the ending arrives (complete with a cameo from Sugar Ray Robinson as the gravedigger), the brutal denouement is almost a relief after the tense build-up. Like ‘80s horror classic Hellraiser, “None But the Lonely Heart” is a grimy, sordid story of an evildoer eventually getting theirs, and Tom Hanks proves an unexpectedly great fit for this brutally funny Tales From the Crypt episode.
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Tom Hanks’ Episode Of Tales From The Crypt Explained