Friday, October 30, 2015

Frightful Features - Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996)

Created by Steven Dodd, Tales from the Crypt was a horror anthology series that ran for seven seasons on the premium cable channel HBO. The title is based upon the classic horror comics published by EC Comics during the 1950's. Like The Twilight Zone and other anthology series, Tales from the Crypt possesses a host character known simply as the "Crypt Keeper", a reanimated corpse who's risen from the grave to tell terrifying tales for our entertainment.

He also enjoys puns. Really, really, really bad puns. Puns that will make you groan louder than you ever thought you could.

Each episode presented a new tale, each more gruesome than the last. Most of the content was derived from the comics it originated from, causing the majority of the stories to end with some dark twist or a strange moment of macabre justice being enacted upon someone truly despicable after doing something particularly awful. However, they made sure each episode was its own beast and felt different from the last.

I'll admit, I'm cheating with this entry. Tales from the Crypt is clearly not a feature film. However, I decided to break the rules just this once because I believe the Halloween season is the perfect time to talk about this classic series.

I have a soft spot for anthologies, especially when it comes to film and television. The Twilight Zone is my favorite show, and I have very fond memories of Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, The Outer Limits (the 90's remake), and even Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps. I love seeing a brand new story each time I tune into such a series, admiring the craft put into them and getting such a varied amount of entertainment. Tales from the Crypt is no exception.

Each episode feels like a creepy B-Film crammed into 30 minute bites, filling you up without overstaying their welcome. One episode you might have a serial killer dressed up as Santa Claus attempting to kill a woman who's just murdered her husband and trying to cover it up, while the next could have two gambling rivals challenging each other to increasingly deadly games in order to beat the other. The various directors also brought their own unique touches to each episode, helping each feel more unique, while also still possessing a certain feel that was easily recognizable as a Tales from the Crypt story.

Don't get me wrong, Tales from the Crypt was by no means perfect. Like most anthology series, there are some real stinkers within the 93 episodes that were produced and made. However, the majority were great (especially within the first few seasons) and still remain enjoyable today. They feel like the perfect thing to show during a horror movie marathon, in-between each film to act as palate cleanser. They're also great when you just want to relax and enjoy something creepy and happens to have a heavy dose of dark humor.