Sixteen years after its first episode, Tales from the Crypt still has a special place in my heart. Iíve only been completely faithful to three television series as far as I can remember. First there was Fraggle Rock (1983), Jim Hensonís darkest work, then recently there was Dead Like Me, a humoristic hope inducing fiction about life beyond death. But first and foremost, there was Tales from the Crypt. In every episode, John Kassir would give life to this full scale animated puppet that would soon become an icon: the Crypt Keeper. The Crypt Keeper would welcome us then introduce a twenty minute short story. He would then conclude the show in a similar fashion to the story endings themselves: macabre, sometimes gory, but always supported by the childish humor that would soon become Tales from the Cryptís trademark.
The icing on the cake was the guest appearances. Rarely did an actor appear twice on the show. Every story has to be independent from the others. Christopher Reeve, Joe Pesci, Timothy Dalton, Benicio Del Toro, Bill Paxton, Larry Drake, Demi Moore, Robert Patrick, Dan Aykroyd, Brad Dourif, Michael J. Fox and Tom Hanks, to name a few, played a role at one point. Tim Curry even played three interacting characters in ďA Death of Some SalesmanĒ, the best episode in my opinion. The franchise even released three feature films (Tales from the Crypt, Bordello of Blood and Demon Knight) and a childrenís cartoon.
Before HBO, there was EC Comics. In the 50ís, William M. Gaines, publisher, started to give into horror. Inspired by spooky radio shows, comic book collections Vault of Horror, Crime Stories, Haunt of Fear and Crypt of Terror would challenge people to read them. Inevitably, those publications would draw the attention of younglings. His comic books became very popular. They were violent, gory and the ending would usually punish the bad guys in a much more gruesome manner than what their victims had suffered. But the non-initiated, parents notably, couldnít read between the lines and would take them out of context. So when competition started taking a share of the market, trading subtlety and substance for extreme gore, fingers were automatically pointed at ECís comic books. Some were even burned publicly. It almost destroyed the comic book industry.
Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television was broadcasted on Monster Channel and is now available on a 2 DVD set with lots of bonus features. It tells the story of this controversial franchise. It includes interviews with George A. Romero, Joel Silver and R. L. Stine. It makes us assume just how much of an influence the comic strips had over recent horror movies. The DVD tells you all that and so much more.