Tonight on Tales from the Dark Side we’ve got an extremely familiar storyline, one that might strike a chord with any Simpsons fanatics out there. The show opens in the back of a limousine where two millionaires, famous actor Keenan Wynn and George Petrie, best known as Don Aiuppo from Wiseguy, cackle about their love for evil capitalism. They’re businessmen so unscrupulous that they think nothing of having people killed in order to seal a deal. Keenan invites George over to his mansion that night to make… a proposition. Because they’re such good friends, George doesn’t immediately assume that the proposition involves poisoned brandy.
The action then moves into the games room of Keenan’s mansion, where the indecent proposal is made. He wants to buy George’s soul for a million dollars. George, you see, is a notorious atheist, and puts no value whatsoever on his immortal spirit… but for some reason, he’s nervous about taking the bit. Keenan mocks George out of his superstition, and they start to hash out the details of the arrangement. George is sure it’s trick, but Keenan assures him it’s a simple test – if there’s no such thing as a soul, there’s no reason not to take the money.
One Friday later, the deal is done. The terms are simple enough: Keenan gives George a million dollars, and if George dies first, Keenan gets his soul. To avoid the possibility of foul play, there’s a rider in the contract – if Keenan dies of anything other than natural causes, George has to give the money back. They’re friendly, but they’re not that friendly. The deal is signed, and it looks like everything’s coming up Milhouse! Or is it?
The next scene jumps a few months into the future, when George drops by to visit Keenan. He’s discovered that he’s dying, and has just a short time to live. This brush with mortality has caused him to reflect on his immortal soul, and asks for an opportunity to buy his soul back. Naturally, being an evil businessman, Keenan enjoys nothing more than seeing his friend suffer, so he refuses to sell the soul back. At least… not at the price originally offered.
A month later Keenan’s butler brings him a telegram from George, detailing his final offer. He’ll return the million dollars, and give Keenan another million on top of it. Keenan decides, as many do, that while human suffering is incredibly entertaining, raw wealth is far more useful, so he decides to accept the deal. His butler pointedly mentions that it’s his night off, meaning that Keenan will be alone in the mansion all night, should something spooky happen.
After taking a nap in his office and being awoken by a mysterious gust of wind from nowhere, Keenan tries to phone George and arrange a trade. At first he can’t get the phone to work, but then George’s housekeeper gets through, and gives Keenan the bad news… George has died! This, coupled with the sound of someone ransacking his house downstairs is enough to unsettle Keenan, who heads downstairs, just missing the mysterious figure, who fades away after stealing a single rose from a vase. He makes his getaway using a simple but well-executed film technique.
Sure, it’s cheap and the oldest thing in the world, but it’s always nice to see. Also interesting is the way they bothered to add a void in the carpet-level mist where the intruder had been standing before he disappeared.
See? That’s a really nice touch. Anyhow, unable to find the intruder, Keenan answers the front door and discovers George standing there, looking extremely Marley-y. So then just who was the intruder?
George explains to Keenan that he’s here to live up to his half of the bargain and present his soul. Which, for the record, is the glowing thing in the plastic case on the silver tray.
Yeah, I’m not sure who gave that to the ghost him either.
George is insistent that Keenan accept possession of the soul, because there’s a mysterious ‘other interested party’ who has very serious designs on it. Keenan refuses and tries to burn the contract, but dies of a heart attack before he can manage it. It’s only now that the mysterious intruder appears… it was Satan all along! He’d been ransacking the house, looking for the contract. While the idea of Satan frantically searching a house for paperwork is in and of itself hilarious, this reveal sets up the episode’s “in no way a twist” ending.
Satan announces that since Keenan never accepted delivery of the soul both of them are up for grabs. He yanks Keenan’s soul from the corpse, pulls George’s soul out of the bottle, and then heads off. Not before pulling one last trick, though. He gives the corpse a nasty look-
Which sets Keenan’s chest hair on fire-
Until the end credits roll on the damage the fire has done, burning the following image into the corpse’s chest.
Yikes. Just like Freddy vs. Jason. Although, given that they were pretty sit on making this the episode’s creepy final image, I’ve got to wonder why they didn’t title the episode “Paid In Full”. That way you only get the stinger of the title right at the end, as opposed to just five minutes in, with the actual title.
Well, at least there wasn’t a terrible twist that ruined the episode this time around!