Tales from the Crypt was a horror anthology series that ran from 1989 to 1996. A total of 7 seasons were completed. Based off the 1950’s EC comic of the same name as well as other EC comics. The content was both mature & often quite graphic.
The episodes were always book-ended by short scenes with The Crypt Keeper who would introduce the story, often with a groan-worthy pun. One of the most notable things about Tales from the Crypt other than the content was the cast. Big name stars in acting, directing or writing roles.
The very first season was only 6 episodes long (as opposed to the second that was 18!) & begun with ‘The Man Who Was Death’.
Starring William Sadler as a state executioner who really enjoys his job. He feels respected in his role, that is until execution as a punishment is stopped. Suddenly he’s out of a job & his bitterness sees him dealing out his own brand of justice. The excellent acting & ironic ending gets the season off to a fantastic start.
‘And All Through the House’ is a Christmas themed episode that sees a wife (Mary Ellen Trainor) kill her husband (Marshall Bell) for his insurance money. While trying to dispose of his body she comes under attack from a killer in a Santa Claus outfit (Larry Drake).
The second episode isn’t quite as memorable as the first but the great acting & a nice spin on a child’s trust of Santa makes it just as exciting to watch.
Episode 3 is called ‘Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone’ & is the best of the season. We meet a carnival daredevil (Joe Pantoliano) who is currently buried alive as his big finale. A former penniless & homeless man, he allowed a doctor to experiment on him giving him the nine lives of a cat. We see his many deaths through flashbacks leading to a realisation that is both shocking & amusing.
As has become the norm by this stage, this is another episode with fantastic acting & great visuals. It also has the most fascinating story. It is utterly transfixing to watch.
In ‘Only Sin Deep’ self-obsessed prostitute (Lea Thompson) ends up selling her looks to an oddball pawnbroker. He tells her she can reclaim them provided she pays back the money in a certain amount of time. She ends up using the money to get herself a rich husband. He adores her looks, that is until she begins to age rapidly.
There’s a message in this story about beauty being skin-deep but it’s handled poorly. A boring episode, it’s only shining light is Lea Thompson who really gets to let her inner bitch out.
The worst episode of the season is ‘Lover Come Hack to Me’. A newly married couple (Amanda Plummer and Stephen Shellen) discover more about each other then they should have. Boring & contrived, it’s extremely forgettable.
Season One wraps up with ‘Collection Completed’, an excellently horrific story about an uptight elderly man (M. Emmet Walsh) struggling to adapt to retirement. Having spent years on the force he’s been so absent from his wife’s life that she has adopted a multitude of pets to keep her company. The man hates her pets, finding them under his feet & in his way constantly. Annoyed to breaking point he comes up with a novel way to take care of his problem & get a new hobby!
As a finale, Collection Completed is deliciously evil & a fine finish to a pretty great season. The low points in no way overshadow the highs & there are far more of those! Amazingly episodes that are nearly 30 years old still hold massive relevancy to modern day events & the messages are mostly well told.
Fantastic acting throughout, tongue in cheek humour & an adult edge make this season a must see for all cheesy-horror fans.
Tales from the Crypt - Season 1