Horror and sci-fi anthology tv shows seem to have been around for as long as televisions themselves: Tales of Tomorrow in 1951; The Twilight Zone in 1959; The Outer Limits in 1963; Night Gallery in 1970; Ghost Story in 1972; The Hitchhiker in 1983; Tales from the Darkside in 1984; Monsters and Freddy’s Nightmares in 1988. Until the last decade, most horror-themed television shows were watered down due to the ratings policies of general broadcast television. But there was one show, born from cable tv and found its way to late-night syndication with less editing than expected, that still claims the throne of the televised horror anthology: Tales from the Crypt.
Season 1 Episode 06: Collection Completed (first aired June 28th, 1989)
Source Story: Vault of Horror #25
Director: Mary Lambert, fresh off the release of her director work in Pet Sematary, deals with pets in the after-life yet again. Taxidermy is a far stretch from zombie pets, of course, but Lambert makes “Collection Completed” as hilariously disturbing as Pet Sematary was completely disturbing.
Plot: Fresh out of work because of forced retirement, Jonas tries to enjoy time at home but is constantly irritated by his wife Anita’s love of animals. He finally finds a hobby that takes care of his restlessness as well as the animal population in his house: taxidermy.
Murderous Moral of the Story: When you retire and your spouse already seems to have interests that are different from yours, try to get out of the house a little bit. Or hang out with that weird neighbor of yours that keeps coming by by.
Critique: As a whole, the episode “Collection Completed” has almost everything that makes Tales from the Crypt an amazing series. You have the stage set with a goofy sitcom structure where Jonas is going through his new, everyday life in retirement with slapstick interruptions with animals and his wife, but this is loaded with a horror theme through his taxidermy work on the animals that are aggravating him so much. The climax of Jonas being killed by his wife and stuffed as a trophy husband sitting on his recliner is the final punchline, made even better by the neighbor’s reaction while Anita is so calm about it.
The acting is campy in a good way, and feeds into the hilarity of the episode feeling like a parody of the life of the Ropers in “Three’s Company.”
The only problem “Collection Completed” has is it sometimes feels like it takes too long to get to the horror portion of the episode. Would the episode lose some of its charm if it tried to build up faster? Perhaps. Maybe it’s a matter of the mood you’re in when watching it. Luckily, Tales from the Crypt episodes are only a half hour long, so it’s hard to say it really takes too long to build up. Some movies take over an hour, almost 2/3s their running time, to get to that point.
Body Count: 1 human, countless animals
Many by taxidermy
1 by a hammer to the head
Actors/Actresses of Note: There aren’t many characters in “Collection Completed”, but the characters that are here have some star power to them. Jonas is played by M. Emmet Walsh, known for his roles in Blood Simple, Blade Runner, Critters, The Jerk, and most recently in Knives Out. Anita is played by Audra Lindley, mostly recognized for her role as Helen Roper in the sitcom “Three’s Company.” Finally we have Roy, played by Martin Garner who may not have quite the recognition of the other two but can be recognized as one of the old men in the “Kick the Can” segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Quote: “Are you running some kind of luxury resort for every flea-bitten parasite that trips across my doorstep? What’s that dog eating? A steak?” – Jonas
Watchability: 4 out of 5. The merger of horror with sitcom is so perfect that “Collection Completed” can be watched multiple times and never get old.