By Ken Tucker
June 14, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

An anthology series in which each episode brings a new cast and crew is inevitably uneven, and so it is with the usually clever Tales From the Crypt.

Based on the notorious E.C. horror comics of the ’50s, Crypt commences its third season with a trilogy of stories. In The Trap, Teri Garr plays a mousy housewife whose loutish husband (Bruce McGill of National Lampoon’s Animal House) asks her to help him fake his death so they can collect on his insurance policy. This plot has been done to death, so to speak, and under the direction of actor Michael J. Fox, the tale goes nowhere you don’t expect it to — no suspense, no humor.

Loved to Death is more interesting. Andrew McCarthy (Weekend at Bernie’s) stars as a struggling screenwriter who has a crush on a woman (Mariel Hemingway) in his apartment building. She couldn’t care less about him until he slips her a love potion that transforms her into his love slave — one who quickly takes over his life with her ceaseless adoration.

The plot isn’t much more original than that of The Trap, but here the script by Joe Minion and John Mankiewicz adds unexpected depth and ferociousness to the story. Hemingway’s pre-potion character is a marvelous creep, cutting and condescending. In any other film, such a female creation would probably be punished for her aggressiveness; here, it’s the source of her survival.

Finally, there’s Carrion Death, featuring Twin Peaks‘ Kyle MacLachlan as a bank robber who tries to make it across the Mexican border with his loot. He has two problems: A vulture follows his every move, which unnerves him, and he’s handcuffed to a dead lawman (George Deloy). That really unnerves him.

Carrion Death amounts to a solo piece, with MacLachlan hurling epithets at both the vulture and the dead cop. What he says isn’t very amusing, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen and been bored by the recent movie Hudson Hawk — both were written by Steven E. DeSouza. But DeSouza also directs here, and there are a few striking images of MacLachlan carrying his burden across the desert, as well as a nicely filmed slapstick sick joke at the very end. C

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