Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tales from the Darkside: Snip, Snip

Many episodes of Tales from the Darkside try to have some kind of moral or social message. Here's the lesson I took away from "Snip, Snip": if you're going to use black magic to win the lottery, wait until after the numbers are picked before calling your boss to gloat and quit. But if you should fail to do that and discover you haven't won anything, it's best not to call him back to beg for your job back and use as an excuse "I was only off by one number!"

Those are the lessons Abe North (Bud Cort) should have taken to heart, but no, he disregards both and is left looking like an idiot (and is now unemployed) when the powers of the Dark Side didn't give him the winning lottery numbers. Instead of 666-666, the winning numbers turn out to be 666-667, picked by a hairdresser, Anne MacColl (Carol Cane), who plans to open her own beauty salon. Rather than learn not to put stock in black magic, Abe decides he's entitled to the winnings and sneaks into Anne's apartment to steal her ticket. But the seemingly air headed hairdresser might just have a trick or two up her sleeve.

"Snip, Snip" highlights something I think we've all long suspected: Carol Kane is kind of creepy. Seriously, those wide eyes and that voice that sounds like she's hiding something, she can be unnerving when she wants to be. She doesn't look intimidating, but appearances, especially in the horror genre, are often deceiving. Poor Bud Cort, once again playing a nerdy loser with a chip on his shoulder, discovers all too late that even when you get a little power for the first time, there's always someone else who's more powerful than you.

That's how "Snip, Snip" works. Abe is ostensibly the protagonist, but he's an entitled little shit, and watching him in turns being humiliated, foiled, and threatened is darkly funny. Anne proves to be more evil and powerful than Abe could hope to be, but it's hard not like her. She has a plan (both in terms of how to get the money and what she wants to do with it), she's nice to her old neighbor and pet bird, and she's the smart one in this story, two steps ahead of Abe. Abe, when you get down to it, is a sap, and he just doesn't realize it yet.

When Anne gets nasty toward, demonstrating the power she's capable of, it's actually pretty effective as she toys with Abe and makes him realize what a worm he really is. I suppose the real lesson of "Snip, Snip" is be careful of forces you don't really comprehend or control. Especially when that force is Carol Kane.

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