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Tales from the Crypt
Tales from the crypt title shot.jpg
Genre Horror / Fantasy / Mystery / Drama
Format Anthology
Created by William Gaines (original concept)
Starring John Kassir
Theme music composer Danny Elfman
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 93 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Richard Donner
David Giler
Walter Hill
Joel Silver
David Geffen
Robert Zemeckis
Running time Various
Broadcast
Original channel HBO
Original run June 10, 1989 – July 19, 1996
Chronology
Followed by Tales from the Cryptkeeper
Perversions of Science
Demon Knight

Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is a horror anthology American TV series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on the premium cable channel HBO. The title was based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name and most of the content originated in that comic or the four other EC Comics of the time (Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, Crime SuspenStories, and Shock SuspenStories). The show was produced by HBO with uncredited association by The Geffen Film Company and Warner Bros. Television (all part of a production consortium officially called Tales From The Crypt Holdings). The series is not to be confused with the 1972 film by the same name or Tales from the Darkside, another similarly themed horror anthology series.

Because it was aired on HBO, a premium cable television station, it was one of the few anthology series to be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by network standards and practices. The station allowed the series to contain graphic violence as well as other content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time, such as profanity, gore, nudity and sexual situations, which could give the series a TV-MA rating for today's standards. The show is subsequently edited for such content when broadcast in syndication or on basic cable.

While the series began production in the United States, in the final season filming moved to England, resulting in episodes which revolved around British characters.

It is currently being shown on Zone Horror in the UK.

Contents

Episodes

Each episode begins with a tracking shot leading to the front door of the Crypt Keeper's decrepit mansion. Once inside, the camera pans down hallways and stairways, and finally descends into the basement. The show's host, the Crypt Keeper, then pops out from his coffin, cackling wildly. The Crypt Keeper is a corpse, as opposed to the original comics in which he was a living human being. The wisecracking Crypt Keeper (voiced by John Kassir) would then introduce the episode with intentionally-hackneyed puns (e.g. his frequent greeting to viewers: "Hello, Boils and Ghouls"). Each episode was self-contained, and was bookended by an outro sequence again involving the Crypt Keeper.

The episode "You, Murderer" (1995) is particularly noteworthy since it was one of the first shows ever filmed that used computer effects to digitally insert actors into an episode. The episode was directed by series producer Robert Zemeckis, who had recently directed Forrest Gump which utilized these effects. Alfred Hitchcock appeared in a cameo at the beginning of the episode, and Humphrey Bogart played the starring role for this story. Because both men had been dead for decades, their appearances made the episode very well known amongst fans. This episode was also notable for Isabella Rossellini's guest appearance in which she parodies her lookalike mother, Ingrid Bergman, for the first (and only) time.

Very few of the episodes, especially in the early seasons, were based on actual stories from Tales From The Crypt. Many were instead from other EC Comics series. For instance, season one was predominantly from The Haunt of Fear, while season two was mostly from Shock Suspenstories. Tales from The Vault of Horror appeared sporadically throughout the series run.

Notable guest stars and directors

One conceit of the series is that many of the episodes involved big-name stars, either as writers, directors, or actors. In this way, many A-list Hollywood stars were appearing on both the big screen and the small screen at the same time.

A list of these actors/guest stars includes Adam Ant, Dan Aykroyd, Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Daniel Craig, Tim Curry, Timothy Dalton, Roger Daltrey, Benicio del Toro, Kirk Douglas, Brad Dourif, Miguel Ferrer, Kerry Fox, Whoopi Goldberg, Bobcat Goldthwait, Teri Hatcher, Tom Hanks, Marg Helgenberger, Mariel Hemingway, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Izzard, Margot Kidder, Brian Krause, John Lithgow, Andrew McCarthy, Dylan McDermott, Ewan McGregor, Kyle MacLachlan, Meat Loaf, Demi Moore, Malcolm McDowell, Donald O'Connor, Joe Pantoliano, Bill Paxton, Bruce Payne, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt, Iggy Pop, Christopher Reeve, Natasha Richardson, Don Rickles, Mimi Rogers, Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Slash, Ben Stein, John Stamos, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Thomas, Lea Thompson, Mary Ellen Trainor, Vanity, Steven Weber, Sam Waterston, George Wendt, Adam West, Billy Wirth, Treat Williams, and Rita Wilson, among others.

A list of famous directors includes Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many well-established film directors also contributed episodes. They include Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, Howard Deutch, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Walter Hill, Tom Holland, Tobe Hooper, Mary Lambert, Peter Medak, Russell Mulcahy, Elliot Silverstein, and Freddie Francis, who directed the original 1972 film.

Spin-offs

In 1991, the Fox television network aired a pilot for Two-Fisted Tales, a spin-off based on the 1950s EC action comics. When Fox passed on the pilot, Crypt Keeper segments were tacked onto the three stories (Yellow, Showdown, and King of the Road), and HBO ran them as Tales from the Crypt episodes.

Two movies, Demon Knight (1995) and Bordello of Blood (1996) were released in theaters. A third movie, Ritual was slated for theatrical release in 2001, but was only distributed internationally (without the Tales from the Crypt connection) until 2006 when it was released on DVD in the United States, with the Cryptkeeper bits restored.

The Peter Jackson film The Frighteners was originally written as a Tales From the Crypt movie, but was produced and released on its own merit after director Robert Zemeckis read the script.

In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon called Tales from the Cryptkeeper was based on the series, with none of the violence or other questionable content that was in the original series, but kept John Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper.

A kid's game show called Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House was also spun off from the series in 1996, there the Cryptkeeper plays the announcer during the game show. Kassir again voiced the Cryptkeeper.

After the original series ended, a spin-off called Perversions of Science premiered in 1997 on HBO, this time being based on science fiction instead of horror. The series only lasted for a short run, and was cancelled the same year. This iteration of the franchise featured a stylized female robot host in place of the Cryptkeeper.

West End Games adapted material from the series into a role-playing game sourcebook, The World of Tales from the Crypt, using the Masterbook system.

There was also a Christmas CD called Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas. It contained such songs as "Juggle Bills," "We Wish You'd Bury The Missus" and "Deck The Halls With Parts Of Charlie."

In the very first VeggieTales video, Where's God When I'm S-Scared?, there was a segment called Tales from the Crisper which spoofed the entire franchise.

DVD releases

Warner Home Video has released all 7 seasons of the series on DVD for region 1. The DVDs for Seasons 1–3 are unique because they feature all-new Crypt Keeper introductions and segments. No such segments were filmed for Seasons 4–7. Region 2 releases have not been announced yet.

Season Release Date
Season 1 July 2005
Season 2 October 2005
Season 3 March 2006
Season 4 July 2006
Season 5 October 2006
Season 6 July 2007
Season 7 October 2007

Soundtrack

In 1991, Big Screen Records released a soundtrack album featuring assorted music from the series.[1]

Track Title Composer Length
01 Tales From The Crypt (Main Title) Danny Elfman 2:27
02 Three's a Crowd Jan Hammer 3:50
03 Cutting Cards James Horner 3:45
04 Loved to Death Jimmy Webb 3:19
05 Dead Wait David Mansfield 4:04
06 Undertaking Palor Nicholas Pike 3:10
07 Carrion Death Bruce Broughton 3:32
08 Ventriloquist's Dummy Miles Goodman 3:32
09 The Thing from the Grave David Newman 2:53
10 The Man Who Was Death Ry Cooder 4:22
11 Reluctant Vampire Cliff Eidelman 3:50
12 Deadline Steve Bartek 3:32
13 The Crypt Jam Chuckii Booker 4:30

Awards

Tales from the Crypt won the following awards:

  • 1991 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing – Television Half-Hour – ADR
  • 1992 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing – Television Episodic – Effects and Foley
  • 1993 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing – Television Episodic – Effects and Foley
  • 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "People Who Live in Brass Hearses")

Nominations

  • 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (William Hickey in the episode "The Switch")
  • 1991 Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Cable Special (Mike Simmrin)
  • 1992 Casting Society of America's Artios Award for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic
  • 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kirk Douglas)
  • 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "The Lipreader")
  • 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Tim Curry in the episode "Death Of Some Salesman"), Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series
  • 1994 Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actor Guest Starring in a Television Show (Raushan Hammond)
  • 1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series
  • 1996 American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series (for the episode "You Murderer")

References

External links








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