Hey there kiddies! It’s your old pal, The CryptKeeper! and I’m here to tell you a few stories that involve death, monsters, and best of all: terrible horror puns! ahem. Sorry, I don’t know where that came from.. probably another time or even another place – a place where I had a raspy voice and made terrible jokes..oh wait a second. That actually sounds about right..
In all seriousness though, Tales From The Crypt is an American horror anthology television series that ran from June 10 1989 to July 19 1996 on HBO for seven seasons [and two movies!], equaling itself out to a total of 93 episodes. The show’s title is based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name, with most of the content originating in that comic, or the six other EC Comics that appeared around the same time [these were known as “The Crypt Of Terror”, “The Haunt Of Fear”, “The Vault Of Horror”, “Crime SuspenStories”, “Shock SuspenStories” and “Two-Fisted Tales”] An interesting thing to note is that because it was aired on HBO, which is a premium television channel, Tales From The Crypt was one of the few anthology series of it’s time to be actually be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by network standards and as a result, HBO gave the okay and 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 crude humor, gore, nudity and even sexual situations. Naturally, this would most likely give the series a TV-MA rating by today’s standards!
To give you some perspective on the show, each [and every] episode of Tales From The Crypt begins with a tracking shot leading to the front door of The Crypt Keeper‘s decrepit – presumably haunted – mansion. [which I like to call, “my dream house”] Once the viewer[s] are inside, the camera pans down the narrow hallways and stairways, and then finally descends into the dark, dirty basement. The show’s host, known as the CryptKeeper, then pops out from his coffin, cackling wildly; ending with a green slime as it pours down over the screen with the main title appearing. [can’t picture it? we’ll come back to this in a bit..] The CryptKeeper is an animated corpse, as opposed to what he was in the original comics where he was actually a living human being! Our wisecracking Host, who was voiced by John Kassir, would then introduce the episode with intentionally hackneyed puns with his trademark greeting to viewers: “Hello, Boils and Ghouls” or “Hello, Kiddies”. Each episode was fairly self-contained, and normally ended with an specialized outro sequence involving the CryptKeeper, usually by telling us that the person[s] who died in the episode had it coming.. using really bad [but entertaining] puns! The comic book cover art that was used for each episode were created by Mike Vosburg and Shawn McManus.
In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon that I grew up watching as well known as Tales From The Cryptkeeper was created/spun off from the original HBO series. It was produced by Nelvana [a Canadian company] for ABC, rather than HBO; which naturally means that the excessive violence of the prime-time series was insanely toned down and the gore was removed completely. Nelvana even went so far as to find [and employ] a child psychologist to double check the show’s scripts to be sure that the episodes would be suitable for younger viewers. The CryptKeeper puppet from the classic show was considered to be the host for the series as well, but it was ultimately ruled that he would probably frighten the younger audiences. Instead, we were given an animated version, which granted – looks closer to the EC Comics version – with John Kassir reprising as the voice of The CryptKeeper. This series didn’t last overly long though, running for a short 26 episodes with only two seasons.
Tales From The Crypt was [and still is] a fantastic show, it’s something that I like to call horror at it’s finest. I grew up watching this series and the animated series: Tales From The CryptKeeper. If you haven’t seen the series before [blasphemy!] or you just want to relive some cult horror television, I implore you to check out a few episodes online on your own, or with some friends; cause you know what they say: “the morgue, the merrier!” [here come the puns, again!] As someone who’s been revisiting the series lately [especially after finding seasons 1 and 2 on DVD for $10!] I strongly recommend the series in full. I recommend it so strongly in fact, that I’ve even included the show’s intro [which I described above] to get you in the ghastly spirit of things!
THANKS FOR READING.