It’s time for another round of grave-robbing fun with RERUNS FROM THE CRYPT… (Crypt…Crypt…Crypt…)
Trust me, it sounds cooler out of the text.
Anyway, after last week’s starting us off on a wonderfully psychological romp, we’re taking a bit of a different tack this week. We’re doubling down on last week’s anthology format at the cost of a much shorter series length and working in a dash of macabre morality tale along with it.
We’re going back to 1999 for the Madhouse produced miniseries Pet Shop of Horrors.
It’s a bit strange this series is as short as it is – it’s a four episode adaptation of a manga series that ran for ten volumes. As such, this is really only a quick taste of what it has to offer, but it’s interesting enough for what it is.
The story takes place in Chinatown out in LA – the focus in particular is on two characters. The first of these is Count D – a mysterious man who runs the show’s titular pet shop, a business he claims deals in hopes and dreams and always seems to have what people need, albeit with some strings attached. The other main player is Leon Orcot, a detective who’s been investigating a number of unusual deaths in the area and finding all their paths eventually lead them to Count D’s shop.
While Leon’s investigation of D provides a sort of continuous spine to the story, it is ultimately an anthology format. Each episode focuses on a new customer who graces D’s shop, where he has a special ‘pet’ just for them. The transaction is made, with clear set rules that must be followed, and if they’re not, as the good Count reminds the customers: he won’t be responsible for what happens.
Yeah, you can kind of guess a part of how this is going down – it’s a sort of middle ground of Gremlins and the darker aspects of Willy Wonka as a horror morality play goes.
Which, in a way, is both a pro and con to this series. Given it’s short enough you can prettymuch do the whole thing in a single sitting (it all clocks out at under two hours), the formula of the show becomes apparent pretty quickly. By the second episode, I already found myself starting to guess where each story was going in terms of its big secret. To their credit, they did at least wrong-foot me on the ‘which rule will be broken this time’ front, so there’s that.
Formula aside, it’s a fairly enjoyable little ride. It’s not a high end masterpiece, but it also never really falters in any crippling ways. There’s little things that might prove off-putting (some early CG in a couple of scenes sticks out, but is a far cry from the infamous days of Golgo-13) but most of those are pretty easy to just go with.
That said, there is one other caveat to keep in mind. It’s a minor thing, but if you’re unsure which language to go with on watching this, it’s something to keep in mind. The dub on this is…let’s just go with dated. I mean this in two ways. First, expect a fair amount of liberties with its script – not like completely rewriting the plot, but different enough to change some tones and attitudes of certain scenes – the first scene is a good example of this, as a formerly just angry customer is now outright insolent. Which leads to the other way this is dated – some random obscenities peppered throughout. To go back to that first scene for example, the dub takes a statement of general displeasure and changes it so the displeased customer drops an f-bomb on Count D. No. Not that f-bomb. The other one.
Yeah. Just so you know what you’re getting into if you go that route. It’s an interesting time capsule in that regard, but if you’re a stickler for degrees of dub fidelity, this could be a deal breaker.
All in all though, it’s not a bad series. Brief, to be certain, and feels like it just sort of drops off without ever really going any where beyond a scattering of stories, but for what it is, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours.
Plus, with that in mind, you can buy up the whole thing in one shot pretty easily. Hardly a huge deal breaker, but a small upside to that short time.
Thus concludes this week’s series. I can promise you two pluses to next week: 1) a longer run time and 2) children in peril.
…wait..that’s not a plus for some people? … Oh boy…anyway, catch you next time!
-‘Story of the week’ plots interesting horror morality plays
-Though it’s not paid off, the series builds the mystery of Count D well
-Episodic nature means the ‘story of the week’ stories are good, but the overarching story doesn’t really go anywhere
-Dub differs enough that it can be an impact on which language you watch it in (the fact it takes place in America further complicating that.)