"A call girl plans to land a rich playboy and pawns her beauty in order to dress to impress. What? She misunderstands the pawnshop's refund offer? Too late to read between the lines (and wrinkles), girlie!"
-- DVD description for the episode
Only Sin Deep is the fourth episode of the first season of Tales from the Crypt and the fourth episode overall. The episode aired on June 14th, 1989.
A young self-obsessed prostitute (Lea Thompson) "sells" her looks to a voodoo-dabbling pawnbroker (Britt Leach) so that she can use the money in order to snag a rich bachelor (Brett Cullen), but she soon regrets it four months later when her own face begins to shockingly and unexpectedly age at an accelerated rate.
Sylvia worked as a prostitute on the streets of New York City, alongside her friend Raven. They were on the same street as a building with a penthouse owned by Ronnie Price, a handsome millionaire, and both girls swooned over his appearance. Sylvia, who was a vain woman, said her face was her "meal ticket", and would get her a better place in life than out on the streets. Raven laughed and said even if they are attractive, they are still part of the lower class. Immediately afterward, Raven's pimp attempted to proposition Sylvia into working for him. Sylvia led him into an alley to feign agreement.
Sylvia comes on to the pimp, thinking he was going to get free prostitution service from Sylvia. When his guard was down, she threatened him into handing over all his valuables, to which the pimp pulled a pistol on her in his defense. In the struggle, his firearm discharged and hit him, mortally wounding him. Sylvia stole his valuables and told Raven she was now a "free agent", causing Raven to react in horror when she saw her pimp was now dead. Sylvia then went to Joe, who owned a pawn shop, and attempted to pawn the pimp's jewelry. When Joe saw that the jewelry was gaudy and ugly, he noted it is something men would wear, and inquired where Sylvia obtained this. Sylvia made up a story, but Joe refused, stating that the jewelry was obviously stolen.
Disgusted, Sylvia tried to leave the pawn shop, but was stopped by Joe suggesting another business deal, noting she had something going for her. Sylvia, thinking Joe was interested in sex, scoffed and told him she "just retired from that business". Joe said that he was not trying to buy her body, but rather her beauty, and offered $10,000 in exchange, even going so far to lay out the cash in front of her to prove his gravity. Joe then made a plaster cast of Sylvia's head to use to resurrect his deceased wife, but warned it would not take effect for four months, to which she had that time to pay back the $10,000. Sylvia used the cash to buy an array of fashionable outfits and makeovers, then crashed one of Ronnie's parties. Ronnie's butler realized Sylvia was a gatecrasher and was ready to throw her out, only for get a signal from his boss to let her stay at the party. Through flirting, Silvia worked her way into Ronnie's heart, and got the good life she always craved.
However, Sylvia's privileged life with Ronnie soon became a nightmare. Four months into their relationship, Sylvia started showing signs of rapid aging. Ronnie told her not to worry, as she was gorgeous, and suggested she see a doctor. The dermatologist said all was fine, until Silvia remembered she forgot her deal with Joe. She runs to the pawn shop, where Joe remarks the ticket expired yesterday. Joe then says he will now redeem her beauty at 900% interest, making the grand total $100,000. In desperation, Silvia returns to Ronnie's residence and steals valuable items as he is away on business. Suddenly, Ronnie appears and finds that his home is being broken into. He was about to call the police when he saw the burglar is not some dangerous thug, but an ugly old crone. Thinking Sylvia is a homeless woman who may have broken in out of desperation for a meal, Ronnie is somewhat more sympathetic, and asks the old woman to identify herself. Angered that Ronnie didn't recognize her, Sylvia remarks "I am the girl of your dreams", and shoots him, causing Ronnie to keel over and die.
Sylvia then drops the gun and runs back to Joe's pawn shop. Joe gives Silvia her beauty mold back for free, but warns it is best if she forget it, for he displays a wanted poster with her on it, as she is wanted for Ronnie's murder. Just then, a policeman enters the pawn shop, asking Joe if he has seen any wanted criminals trying to pawn stolen goods for money. The policeman discusses Price's murder, noting that the murderer was so stupid they left the murder weapon at the scene of the crime and did not wear gloves, to which the police were able to dust for fingerprints... as good as a signed confession. Out of fear, Sylvia attempts to flee, and bumps into the policeman. Not realizing she is the wanted criminal he is hunting, the police officer politely asks Sylvia if she's seen the woman who killed Ronnie, as the wanted poster showed a young, beautiful Silvia. Fearing that she would end up in prison or worse, on death row, Sylvia stole the statue of her face and fled. She is accidentally hit by her former colleague Raven, who insults her. The sculpture was broken and Sylvia become highly depressed, apparently destined to die.
Britt Leach - Joe
Burke Byrnes - Cop
Pamela Gordon - Old Crone
Simon Baker - Party Guest (uncredited)
Opening Segment Edit
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall... who's the *fearest* of them all?
[the mirror shatters and the Crypt Keeper cackles]
Looks like I just bought 7 years' bad luck! Speaking of bad luck, it's time for another nasty little terror tale from my crawly collection... and this one's got a message, too. It's a story about greed, death and a girl, who learned that beauty... is Only Sin Deep!"
Closing Segment Edit
"Poor Sylvia, eh, kiddies? Guess she heard the old saying, "if looks could kill"... so she did! Haha! Just goes to show ya, if you wanna sell yourself, take a look in the mirror, first.
[the Crypt Keeper looks at his own reflection]
Eurgh! Well, see you next time, boys and ghouls!"
- According to Lea Thompson, she found it difficult to perform love scenes with Brett Cullenbecause he is her close friend in real life. Her difficulty was compounded by the fact that her husband, Howard Deutch was directing her. She had to redub her dialogue in those scenes in post-production.
- Before he introduces "Only Sin Deep" in the beginning of the episode, the Cryptkeeper recites the "Mirror, Mirror" chant which breaks a mirror and says that he just bought seven years bad luck. The show lasted for about seven years.
- The title comes from the popular expression that "Beauty is only skin deep".