"Who's the puppet? Who's the master? A wannabe ventriloquist discovers his idol's show-biz secret...."
-- DVD description for the episode
Aspiring ventriloquist Billy Goldman tracks down his idol Mr Ingels, who dropped out of show business following a mysterious incident involving a fire and now lives in seclusion as a bitter recluse. Billy finds out that Ingles has a very dark secret pertaining to his success in the profession.
Mr. Ingles (Don Rickles) runs a successful ventriloquist act cracking crude jokes with his dummy Morty. One of his shows is attended by young Billy Goldman, who receives an autograph and friendly advice from Mr Ingles to seek him out should he ever want to be a ventriloquist. Later that night, the town is disrupted by a fire in the theater building. Mr Ingles loses his hand in the accident, and his girlfriend is killed. His career is forever ruined.
Fifteen years later, Billy (Bobcat Goldthwait) grows up to be a goofy amateur ventriloquist. He shows up at the doorstep of Mr Ingles, who has become a recluse. While the old man would rather not stir up old memories, Billy is excited to meet his idol once more and invites him to an amateur night he’s performing at. Mr Ingles tells him he’ll think about it; when Billy leaves, he asks Morty what he thinks.
Billy goes on stage that night to a drunk obnoxious crowd. He bombs horrendously — and he spots Mr Ingles in the crowd, making matters far worse. The old man does not hold back afterwards, mocking Billy for having no connection with the audience. A devastated Billy leaves and vents out in the alley. Moments later, a woman who was last seen at the bar with Mr Ingles is found murdered in her car. Billy puts his jacket around her body then races off to find his former idol.
Mr Ingles is found by Billy in his home injecting morphine into his stump. Enraged, Billy calls him a junkie and a murderer; Mr Ingles insists that Morty is responsible for all the crimes surrounding him, claiming “Morty hates women”. Billy, fearing Mr Ingles is going crazy, tries to literally show him Morty isn’t real but while searching the doll he finds a mask in place of his head. Mr Ingles suddenly attacks him with a meat cleaver, knocking him down. The old man takes off his arm bandage to reveal Morty is actually his mutated Siamese twin, who lives on assimilated to his hand. They have been succeeding in show business secretly as two working minds for years instead of being seen publicly as freaks. The morphine is revealed to settle Morty down from going on killing sprees, but since the last dosage was interrupted, Morty orders Mr Ingles to kill Billy.
Eventually, Mr. Ingles grows tired of his-wise cracking brother barking orders and taking full credit for “being the brains of this operation”. Pushed by Billy to fight back -- “You‘re the ventriloquist! He‘s the dummy!” — Mr Ingles cuts his arm off from the wrist. While he finally believes he’s free, Morty reveals himself to be still alive and able to move around. He attacks Mr Ingles, fatally ripping out his throat before scampering off. A psychotic Billy grabs a baseball bat and destroys the house chasing Morty (with one swing nailing Mr Ingles’s corpse right in the head), gaining the upper hand when one hit sends Morty butt-first into a meat grinder. Billy cranks the lever and threatens to ”make an asshole casserole” out of him but stops when Morty promises to do anything if he spares his life.
Some time later, Billy has successfully kicked off his ventriloquist act, now with Morty masquerading as his doll. During one set, Morty breaks from the script to catcall a girl in the audience. Billy bickers with him on-set, leading the trickster to reveal he‘s “negotiating their deal”. Billy suddenly screams in pain. As the confused audience starts to walk away, he pulls the doll off his hand to reveal Morty has somehow assimilated himself to his own hand. Billy continues yelling as Morty jokes, “Try to scratch your ass now, buster! Looks like we're stuck with each other!”
Opening SegmentEdit"Good evening, fear fans. You're just in time. Contents: one ventriloquist's dummy Hacme Novelty Company, Battle Shriek, Michigan. Oh, goody. Watch this, kiddies. You won't see my lips movie. You know why? I don't have any! Well hello, Dickie. Would you like me to tell a tale from the crypt? No thanks, death-breath. Then how about sitting a little closer to the fire?"
[Crypt Keeper throws the dummy into a fire]
"That's better. Now I can dole out a diseased little ditty about the schizo-frantic nature of show biz and and how to hack your way to the top! So, grab hold of your guts, kiddies...cause tonight you get to rub elbows with the ventriloquist's dummy."
Closing SegmentEdit"What do you say, folks? Billy deserves a big hand, don't you think?
Sheesh, the things some folks will do to get a-head in show business.
[Crypt Keeper pulls head off dummy}
Oh well. Next time somebody tells Billy he's no dummy, he can say: ’Wanna bet?’"
- Richard Donner, the episode's director, has a cameo as the guy talking to the lady at the bar when Don Rickles has a drink. The lady is Mindy Rickles, Don's daughter.
- The name of The Ventriloquist, "Mr. Ingels," is a reference to legendary horror artist Graham Ingels. Ingels is best known for his work of "The Old Witch" from The Haunt of Fear, the sister title of Tales From the Crypt published by E.C. After horror comics were vilified and ceased to be published in the mid 1950s, Ingels relocated to Florida and became a recluse. Although he taught art lessons and was well regarded in his community, friends and former associates were clueless as to his whereabouts, or even if he were still alive.