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Tales of horror based on the gruesome E.C. comic books of the 1950s presented by the legendary Crypt Keeper, a sinister ghoul obsessed with gallows humor and horrific puns.
Seventeen years after its debut, Tales From The Crypt: The Complete First Season features the first six episodes of the classic television series in this two-disc set. Indeed, this was by far the shortest season of the seven-season run; in fact, the first three episodes actually originally aired on the same night. Disc one features the episodes themselves, while disc two includes two bonus features which I will get to in a moment.
Review by Chad
Added: April 12, 2006
The comic which this series is based on was originally released in the fifties, and there were also a number of spinoffs from the same publisher ("The Vault of Horror" and "The Haunt of Fear" to name a couple). This was the first horror comic to hit the market in a time of glossy, crime-fighting do-gooders such as Superman and Batman. The comic was a smash hit amongst kids due to its grisly tales of terror and the witty remarks from the Crypt Keeper himself which were included before and after each story in the comics. However, the comic came to an end after a strict comics code was put into place after battles between the comic industry as a whole and a Senate subcommittee which was doing research into the growing number of horror and crime comics of the time. Tales From The Crypt and its various offshoots did not meet the squeaky-clean standards put into place by this new code, and as such, the majority of the market refused to carry them. William Gaines, the creator, eventually gave up on the horror / crime comic business and went on to create Mad, a parody magazine that I'm sure a few of you have heard of.
In the late eighties, the comic books were reprinted and once again found a rather large audience. Seeing the success of these reprints, a couple of fellows (whose names I have sadly forgotten) decided to create a three-episode movie based on select stories from the books. This idea was panned due to the lack of interest in short-story feature films, but instead, it was decided that a television series would be made. Six episodes were created and set to air on HBO (which allowed the directors complete freedom with the red stuff), and the rest, as they say, is history.
The following episodes are included in this set:
1. The Man Who Was Death (directed by Walter Hill)
2. And All Through The House (directed by Robert Zemeckis)
3. Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone (directed by Richard Donner)
4. Only Sin Deep (directed by Howard Deutch)
5. Lover Come Hack To Me (directed by Tom Holland)
6. Collection Completed (directed by Mary Lambert)
I'm not going to run down each episode in this review, but I will say that each one is classic Tales material. There are no duds to be found in this season, and if you enjoyed the series as a whole, you'll likely get a kick out of each and every moment of these six episodes.
There's two special features on the second disc of this release. The first is Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television, a fifty-minute documentary on the rise and fall of EC Comics and the men responsible for Tales From The Crypt. This is an excellent documentary, detailing how William Gaines started the horror comic business and their downfall at the hands of overzealous censors. The second paragraph in this review is a highly-condensed version of the story, so if you're interested in finding out more details or just want to learn about the origins of the series, this is a damned good place to start. Adding icing to the already delicious cake, there are comments from George Romero, John Carpenter, RL Stine and many others included in this segment.
The second feature is entitled Crypt Keeper's History of Season One, a five minute segment which is basically just what the title implies. The Crypt Keeper himself looks back at the first season, giving a small overview of each episode and pointing out small trivia bits about each. Personally, I didn't care for this segment too much; I enjoy the Crypt Keeper character and believe that he brings a lot to the television series, but listening to him discuss these episodes and drop the repeated horror puns gets tiresome. As I said, I enjoy his show introductions and closings, but he's a bit out of place in this segment in my humble opinion.
For the season itself, this one is a 10/10 without a shadow of a doubt. I can't say that it's the best season ever as I've only seen a number of select episodes here and there, but I will say that I highly enjoyed each and every moment of the nearly three-hour running time behind these episodes. As for the DVD release itself, it's nice to finally have the seasons rolling out to DVD. With the explosion in popularity of TV-on-DVD releases, I'm quite surprised that it took this long for the series to find a nice home on my shelf, and being a fan of the series, I'd purchase them even if they were completely bare-bones releases. However, while the episodes themselves are great and the first bonus feature is both informative and entertaining, I think it would have been nice to include just a little bit more in the bonus features department. For that reason, I'm going to rate this DVD set 7/10... but again, I would have purchased this had it been a bare-bones release with no bonus features whatsoever, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in that sentiment.
- added April 12, 2006 at 3:05pm
This was one of the greatest shows in the history
of television, especially for horror movie fans.
It attracted some of the best actors and directors
around and they were usually always quite
entertaining. I really miss this show. "And All
Through the House" was always one of my favorites.
- added April 12, 2006 at 10:26pm
Yeah, this was a great show, I've seen many
episodes. A little bit past my time but I remember
I used to love the cartoon version. I'm not sure
if they have a dvd collection of those out yet,
but if they do are you guys ever going to review
- added April 14, 2006 at 1:35am
Now that this masterpiece is done, maybe a Tales
From The Dark Side tv series review in the works?
Anyways, awesome shows in this season, especially
Lover Came Hack To Me.
- added October 10, 2007 at 7:14pm
That's probably not going to happen until the
series hits DVD.
- added March 14, 2009 at 2:04pm
Which it just did roughly a month ago.
Just finished watching the first season. Very
impressed. And All Through The House was
definitely the best. It was much scarier than the
segment in the original film.