on April 26, 2005
Welcome to my review, horror freaks! So glad you could join me and read about the 6 eerie episodes of HBO's "Tales from the Crypt," the very ones that helped the series rise from its tomb back in 1989. It's been 9 long years since the show went off the air, and until now, I've been waiting for the Crypt Keeper's putrid puns and awful alliterations to be forever preserved on DVD format. And why not? The show lasted a full 7 seasons and featured many of the biggest actors and directors in Hollywood. Each tale carefully incorporates the grisly black humor William M. Gaines EC comic books, which were almost banned in the 1950's. Did I say 'almost?' Anyway, as other HBO programs like "Dream On," "Deadwood," and "Carnivale" were packaged and displayed on Best Buy shelves, I wondered if "Tales" would ever be among them. Well, the time has finally arrived, creeps! As stated by John Kassir himself, Warner Brothers wisely chose to create these discs so we ourselves can scare the next generation of kiddies to come. Even better is the fact that the second disc of this Season 1 set will contain a sickening array of never-before-seen extras. I don't want to give the surprises away, but I will briefly tell you the stories you are about to see. Enter, if you dare!
"Dig that Cat...He's Real Gone" stars Joe Pantoliano as Ulric, a homeless alcoholic who becomes a rich and famous sideshow performer after a mad doctor (Gustav Vintas) surgically implants a cat's gland into Ulric's brain. This procedure allows him to die and return to life nine times. Morbid hilarity ensues as a carnival barker (Robert Wuhl) presents Ulric the Undying to astounded audiences who watch him get electrocuted, hanged, drowned in a tank, and shot with an arrow (among other things).
In "The Man Who was Death," Bill Sadler (who eventually starred in the 1995 Tales from the Crypt film "Demon Knight") plays Niles Talbot, a state executioner who loses his job after spending 12 years pulling the switch. This resulted because the government unexpectantly repealed the death penalty. However, not wanting to abandon his favorite occupation, Niles drifts to the other side of the law by killing criminals who were acquitted by the courts.
The frightening and festive "And All Through the House" stars Mary Ellen Trainor as a devious housewife named Elizabeth, who brutally bludgeons her husband with a poker to collect on an insurance policy. Just when she is ready to eliminate the corpse, a homicidal maniac donning a Santa Claus costume (Larry Drake) terrorizes her with an axe. Even worse, Elizabeth can't call the police for fear of being convicted of first degree murder and losing custody of her daughter.
Vanity and greed play a central role in "Only Sin Deep," a tale about a street prostitute named Sylvia Vane (Lea Thompson). After killing a pimp and stealing his gold jewelry, she willingly sells her beauty to a strange pawnbroker (Britt Leach) in exchange for $10,000 cash. At first, Sylvia wins over the affections of a suave playboy millionaire. But immediately afterward, as a result of some black magic performed by the pawnbroker, she gets increasingly distraught as her face quickly ages. Desperate to buy back her looks, she shoots her rich lover dead, but is then forced to avoid prison by staying ugly for life.
Prepare for a honeymoon hell in "Lover Come Hack To Me." Here, a cunning bachelor named Charles (Stephen Shellen) marries a naive Peggy (Amanda Plummer) for her inheritance money. On a rainy night, after accidentally getting stuck in an abandoned mansion, the two go up to the bedroom and make perfect love for the very first time. Originally, Charles was going to kill Peggy and stage the crime to look like a burglary. But he soon discovers that her family history is cursed, and that much darker skeletons lie in the bride's closet.
Last but not least is one of my favorite episodes, "Collection Completed." M. Emmet Walsh plays Jonas, a grouchy tool salesman who finally gets to retire after 47 years on the job. His slightly odd wife Anita (Audra Lindley) has developed a fondness for pets...alot of pets. In fact, she keeps a zoo-full of cats, dogs, and birds in the house. On top of that, she talks to squirrels and runs an aquarium in the bathtub. Obviously, such an attachment to animals is enough to drive Jonas up the wall! Inevitably, he gets sick and tired of not having enough attention, and he gleefully takes up taxidermy as a hobby. But those poor animals weren't the only living creatures that ended up getting stuffed.
OK, I was too young to remember EC comics before narrow-minded nitwits basically ran William Gaines out of business in the 1950's (But he would start Mad Magazine shortly after)but I loved the reprints that came out in the 80's and 90's and this TV show was a welcome surprise. The reason this set is only $18 or so is because the first season had only 6 episodes while season two would have 18 episodes. You start as the camera whizzes through the haunted house and down the stairs to the crypts where the EC mascot the Cryptkeeper pops up with his hideous cackle, voiced magnificently by John kassir.
"The Man Who Was Death" is directed by Walter Hill and is about an Executioner who finds himself out of work when the death penalty is abolished and how he decides to keep his work going.
"And all through the House" is directed by Robert Zemeckis is a horrific Christmas episode which finds Larry Drake playing a homicidal Santa stalking a woman who just killed her husband.
"Dig that Cat he's Real Gone" was directed by Richard Donner. It stars Joe Pantoliano as a bum who becomes the featured star of a sideshow when a mad doctor ala Boris Karloff, gives him a cat gland which allows him to die and come back to life.
"Only Sin Deep" Directed by Howard Deutch. In one of those classic ironic twist stories of EC comics, a prostitute sells her beauty to a pawn shop but then finds herslef getting older and uglier vary rapidly.
"Lover come Back to Me" Directed by Tom Holland. A man marries a woman (Amanda Plummer) for her money but soon finds himself in for more than he bargained for with her family.
"Collection Complete" directed by mary Lambert. A retired salesman is fed up with living with his wife's house full of pets and takes up taxidermy to deal with the animals.
A solid first season with some of the great directors in film chipping in with their own efforts. The Richard Donner episode was a favorite due to its black humor and fine performances. Great to have these on DVD finally!
Based on stories from the deliciously depraved E.C. horror comics (TALES FROM THE CRYPT, VAULT OF HORROR, HAUNT OF FEAR, etc.) of the 1950s, TALES FROM THE CRYPT was a TV horror anthology that, like most TV anthologies, had a lot of both hits and misses. Originally airing on HBO and then later in syndication, some of the episodes fell short, but when a story was a hit, it was usually dead on (excuse the pun). This DVD features the complete first season of TALES FROM THE CRYPT. The season was sort of a trial run, so it was abbreviated and offered only 6 episodes, but all six are offered here in their original uncut form in syndication, episodes were edited to remove non-cable no-nos like nudity, severe profanity, and sometimes a certain amount of gore).
All 6 episodes from this first season are pretty good, but two of them stand out above the rest:
"And All Through the House," directed by renowned and Oscar-winning (1994's FORREST GUMP) Robert Zemeckis, is definitely the scariest of the six. It's a tense morality play about a disgruntled wife who murders her husband on Christmas Eve, only to then have a madman dressed in Santa garb show up to deliver her just deserts. But not only does it warn that "what goes around, comes around," it also makes a multi-faceted statement about innocence and youth, as it is the murderous woman's little daughter who ultimately lets "Santa" into the house. Larry Drake delivers a delectably deranged performance as the insane Saint Nick. (This has proven to be one of the most enduring stories from the original E.C. Comics series, as it was also previously dramatized in 1972 as one portion of an excellent five-part British flick entitled TALES FROM THE CRYPT. In that version, Joan Collins--DYNASTY's Alexis Carrington Colby--played the part of the homicidal wife.)
"The Man Who Was Death" stars William Sadler--who would later star in the TALES FROM THE CRYPT feature film DEMON KNIGHT (1995)--as an old-fashioned country boy who moved to the big city and ended up being employed as the state's executioner. However, when the death penalty is repealed, he suddenly finds himself without a job, so he decides to go freelance and bring his own "shocking" brand of justice to the murderers who fall through the cracks of the system. His zeal makes him a bit careless, though, and he eventually finds himself in the "hot seat" when the cops are able to trace him down just after the death penalty gets reinstated.
The DVD from Warner Home Video not only offers fairly clean digital transfers of these delightful episodes of this popular show, and it also features a couple of pretty cool extras, the best of which is a featurette that discusses what it took to get TALES FROM THE CRYPT off of the comic pages and onto the small screen.
In short, TALES FROM THE CRYPT--THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON is a must-own for all serious horror fans.
on August 2, 2005
I was so happy a while back to see that a studio had finally picked up the rights to release the long overdue HBO Original Series "Tales From the Crypt" on DVD. I bought it immediately upon release, but I made an unpleasant discovery upon playing it. The opening sequence has been OMITTED from each episode. We don't even get it on the first episode and omitted from the rest as a few sets for other series have done in the past (a la "Little House on the Prairie"). The only place it is present is when you first insert and play the disc, and then it is a slightly fuzzy and somehow off-kilter version, with a "Kill Intro" icon present and highlighted in the corner of the screen the entire time. Other than the missing intro, these episodes ARE uncut content-wise. But consider yourself warned: If you want truly COMPLETE episodes, that is NOT what you will get if you buy this set. A small complaint, but one I felt was worth mentioning. Hopefully you found this tidbit of information helpful. Please do support this set anyway, since it will help our chances of getting more season sets beyond the already slated to be released Season Two.
on April 17, 2005
Yes, It has finally happened: Warner Bros./HBO Productions has announced that a 2-Disc, First Season set of "Tales from the Crypt" will be released on July 12th. The first season consisted of six episodes that fit quite nicely on this set's first disc. They are: "The Man Who Was Death", Dig That cat...He's Real Gone", "All Through The House", "Only Sin Deep", "Lover Come Hack To Me", and "Collection Completed". The second disc will hold bonus features that are rumored to include 2 Featurettes: One on "Tales From Comic Books To Television" and the other on "The First Season's History." Plus a new introduction by "The CryptKeeper"(John Kassir). Now this has not been confirmed, so it's pretty much a rumor but these are the possibilities. So far, there is no cover art or any other materials but stay tuned to tvshowsondvd.com for more news info which should be coming soon! Tales From The Crypt: Season One, July 12th!
on March 13, 2006
I remember watching "Tales From The Crypt" re-runs as a kid, Tuesday nights at prime time on FOX, and then Saturday nights after MadTv (1995). Around this time, I started collecting the VHS compilation tapes until I had all of the volumes (they did not contain all of the episodes of the series). Then the re-runs came back on the Sci-Fi channel, and now they are nowhere to be found on basic cable. So, I am very happy that Warner Bros. is finally releasing all the "Tales From The Crypt" seasons on dvd.
The debut season of HBO's "Tales From The Crypt" while short (six episodes) is nothing short of excellent....
My individual episode rating system:
4 out of 4 stars is great
3 1/2 out of 4 stars is very good
3 out of 4 stars is good/enjoyable
2 1/2 out of 4 stars is okay/fair/decent/not bad
2 out of 4 stars is not very good
1 1/2 out of 4 stars is poor
1 out of 4 stars is bad
TALES FROM THE CRYPT SEASON ONE (1989)
Episode 1: The Man Who Was Death ***1/2 Starring William Sadler, Gerrit Graham, Dani Minnick, Roy Brocksmith, J.W. Smith, Robert Whiney, Mimi Kennedy, David Whol, Mark Lowenthal, D. David Morin, Eve Brent, Edgar Small, Tony Abatermarco, Jennifer Evans, Patti Yasutake, Laura Albert, Kate Benton, Julie Ann Lucas, F.J. O'Neill, Al Allen, Raymond O'Conner; written by Walter Hill and Robert Reneau, directed by Walter Hill / original airdate: 6/10/89
Niles Talbot moves from the country to the big city to become an electrician but ended up as an executioner. His trouble begins when he is suddenly unemployed and decides to take the law into his own hands.
Episode 2: And All Through The House... **** Starring Mary Ellen Trainor, Larry Drake, Marshall Bell, Lindsey Whitney Barry; written by Fred Dekker, directed by Robert Zemekis / original airdate: 6/10/89
On Christmas Eve, a woman slaughters her husband and learns that she's on Santa's naughty list when an escaped maniac dressed as Santa Clause shows up at her doorstep with a special present for her.
Episode 3: Dig That Cat, He's Real Gone **** Starring Joe Pantoliano, Robert Whul, Kathleen York, Gustav Vintas, Steve Kahan, Dorthy Neumann, Jack O'Leary, Michael Bower, Paul Tuerpe, Larry Hankin, Al Maines, Rick Zumwalt; written by Terry Black, directed by Richard Donner / original airdate: 6/10/89
Ulrich is given the chance of a lifetime when a mad scientist implants a cat's gland inside his brain, allowing him to gain the cat's nine lives. He joins the circus and becomes Ulrich The Undying, being killed onstage and coming back to life right before the audience's very eyes. Unfortunately for Ulrich, sometimes nine lives isn't enough.
Episode 4: Only Sin Deep **** Starring Lea Thompson, Britt Leach, Brett Cullen, Pamela D'Pella, Matthew Faison, Burke Baynes, G. Smokey Campbell, Pamela West, Barry Thompson, Pamela Gordon; written by Fred Dekker, directed by Howard Deutch / original airdate: 6/14/89
A call girl goes to a pawn shop to rob him of his jewelery. Instead, the owner offers her $10,000 for her beauty. She sells her beauty and gets the rich man of her dreams but discovers she is aging rapidly.
Episode 5: Lover Come Hack To Me ***1/2 Starring Amanda Plummer, Stephen Shellen, Lisa Figgis, Richard Eden; written by Malcom McDowell, directed by Tom Holland / original airdate: 6/21/89
Newlyweds Charlie and Peggy find themselves stranded in an abandoned mansion on their wedding night. Charles only married Peggy for her money and plans to kill her this night, making it look like a robbery. During the night, he has a horrific dream that Peggy's mom murdered her husband with a large axe in this very mansion.
Episode 6: Collection Completed **** Starring M. Emmet Walsh, Audra Lindley, Martin Garner; written by A Whitney Brown, Battle Davis & Randolph Davis, directed by Mary Lambert / original airdate: 6/28/89
After 47 years of selling tools, Jonas has finally found some time to relax. Or so he thinks. After he retires, he finds out that his wife has been taking in stray animals. So, he decides to take up a new hobby... taxidermy.
- All-New Introduction by the Crypt Keeper
- Tales From The Crypt: From Comic Books To Television
- Crypt Keeper's History Of Season One
Season One of "Tales From The Crypt" is an incredible start to one of television's best series.
on April 26, 2005
I have written HBO countless e-mails over the years begging for this dvd set. I never received one e-mail response from HBO. Oh, well. I really did not expect one.
This is one of the best horror shows, period. Some of the top horror/adventure writers and directors wrote and directed these episodes. I believe this series ran for seven seasons. This can be intense stuff, not for children because of the nudity, sex, graphic violence, superb gore effects, language, and more. Some of these stories are truly the stuff of nightmares. They will haunt you.
If you have never seen Tales from the Crypt you are in for a treat, if you are a fan of horror. Go to your local book store and pick-up a trade paperback of the old EC comics these stories are based upon to get a feel for the translation from comic book to television show. Wait until you meet the Cryptkeeper, who introduces each episode, for a meeting of the surreal and insane and just plain weird. And, you will see some big name stars come to fantastic demises. Just wait, you'll see.
Now, where are Tales from the Darkside and Friday the 13th the series. These are two more violent horror series from the pre-politically correct present day.
on August 4, 2014
A major fan of Horror Comics for years here. This one makes me feel all at home again. I adore it. It is, in the miracle someone hasn't seen it, the basic Horror Comics meets 1930s slapstick feel at times. The basics is that the Crypt Keeper shows us tales of a variety of messages. Often with sick jokes or rolling eyed humor. So boils and ghouls, pull you up an electric chair, catch your favorite snack and get ready for a little visit you'll want again and again. It is subtitled for the deaf and hearing impaired in English.
Finally on DVD at long last!!! the long awaited DVD of the first season of the legendary HBO series "Tales from The Crypt" which is inspired by the popular controversial 50's horror comic books "Tales from The Crypt" and "The Vault of Horror" with the "Crypt Keeper" ( voiced by John Kassir) who hosts every episode's literally ghoulish stories of horror, murder, lust, monsters and somethings that aren't meant to be secrets, the show is produced by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale ( Of "Back to the Future" and "Forrest Gump" fame and the director of "Superman" and "Lethal Weapon" Richard Donner.
This 2-Disc set contains the first season that had only 6 episodes which include " The Man who was Death" about a former prison executioner who gets a big job in the city as a electrician but then goes insane as he begins to execute people as he originally did back in prison, then with "All through the House" has a woman that murdered her husband on Christmas Eve is being stalked by a psychopath in a Santa Claus outfit ( ala, Silent Night Deadly Night), next is "Dig that Cat...he's really gone" has a man that has gone under a special experiment with a feline gland to live through 9 lives without dying as he becomes a main attraction for a carnival, next " Only Sin Deep" has a callgirl who is need money sells her beauty but her face suddenly changes old, " Lover come hack to me" is about newlyweds to have a honeymoon in a abanoned house as he is really after her money until he finally sees a dark secret about her family's past and last but not least, "Collection Complete" has a retired tool saleman living at home with his wife who takes in animals but he suddenly gets jealous as he makes a new hobby of taxidermy.
There is great performances and direction in this first season with directors like Tom Holland ("Child's Play" and "Fright Night"), Richard Donner, and Walter Hill ("The Warriors") with an all star cast like William Sadler, Larry Drake ( "Dr.Giggles"), Robert Wuhl ( "Arliss" and "Batman 1989"), Lea Thompson, Richard Eden, Amanda Plummer, and M. Emmet Walsh ( "Blade Runner", "Critters") shine in the terrific first season.
This DVD has quality remastering on each episode with good sound and a nice extras disc that has two featurettes on the history of the show and one on the history of the infamous EC comic books that made them famous.
on August 30, 2010
In the tradition of Creepshow 1 & 2 comes the first season of the world's greatest horror anthology series, hosted by the world's greatest horror host, The Cryptkeeper... it's Tales From The Crypt.
The first thing you'll notice is that our friend The Cryptkeeper is a little more subdued and a lot less flamboyant than in later years. Our boy hadn't grown into his hosting duties at this point, so we get a bit of a low snarling CK here. As opposed to the shrieking, maniacal superhost of the following seasons.
The First Season is only 6 episodes. It's short and sweet but of the absolute highest quality. There are 2 discs. The first contains all 6 episodes. The other contains the documentary, "Tales From the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television". The documentary is superb, one of the best special features you could hope to get. A pleasure to watch repeatedly.
But the episodes are where it's at, so let's take a look at each one.
1. "The Man Who Was Death" - Early on, the comic book influence is obviously strong. The main character in a couple of the early episodes even develops a superpower. In this one William Sadler plays an executioner who develops the power to control electricity. His sense of moral outrage at the injustice of the Courts cause him to embark on a career as a vigilante. He no doubt realized with his newfound mastery of electrictity, that with great power must come great responsibility. But he's closer to Wes Craven's Shocker than he is to Spider-Man. Great episode. 4 Stars.
2. "And All Through The House" - This will scare the hell out of you, if you have a soul. Both this version and the original one from the old TFTC movie have haunted me since childhood. I can remember nights being paralyzed with fear thinking about this particular installment. You know the deal, a psychotic Santa Claus is on the loose on Christmas Eve. Talk about atmosphere, this is seething with it. As good as TFTC gets. A perfect installment. 5 Stars.
3. "Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone" - Here you have Joey Pants as a ne'er-do-well who develops the super cat power of having 9 lives. So of course he sets out to use up those 9 lives as quickly as possible by dying repeatedly in a cheap carnival act. Who's keeping count? HBO's top sports agent, Robert Wuhl. You'd have to be crazy to trust Robert Wuhl to keep count of your lives. 4 Stars.
4. "Only Sin Deep" - Not even Marty McFly knew Lea Thompson's future could be so bleak. But it is because in this one she plays a floozie who gets swindled out of her youth and good looks at a pawnshop. Decent episode. 3 and a half Stars.
5. "Lover Come Hack To Me" - A primitive, soap-opera feeling installment about a player that just got married to a nerd-woman. She's got issues and all kinds of secrets and he has no clue what he got himself into. 2 and a half Stars.
6. "Collection Completed" - The final episode of Season One is about an old man who is annoyed by his wife's pets. He also happens to be a taxidermy hobbyist. So you can imagine the arguments between this couple, she wants her pets to stay alive, he wants to kill them and stuff them. But it all works out in the end. 3 and a half Stars.
The series had a long way to come from this point, and a lot of improvement to make. But the beginning here is very solid. With one absolute classic episode surrounded by a bunch of good episodes. If I were buying each set individually, I'd buy this set fifth. After seasons 2 - 5.
One of the great things about this season is the late 80s look and sound of the shows. These first 2 seasons have a different look than the later show, they're grainier, and darker. They remind me a lot of the television of that era, which I love.
Tales From The Crypt is one of the best DVD sets to collect. The best Anthology Horror series ever.