Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is an American horror anthology television series that ran from June 10, 1989 to July 19, 1996, on the premium cable channel HBO for seven seasons with a total of 93 episodes. The title is based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name and most of the content originated in that comic or the other EC Comics of the time (The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Crime SuspenStories, Shock SuspenStories, and Two-Fisted Tales). The show was produced by HBO.
Because it was aired on HBO, a premium cable television channel, it was one of the few anthology series to be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by network standards and practices. As a result, HBO allowed the series to include content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time, such as graphic violence, profanity, sexual activity and nudity. 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 Britain, resulting in episodes which revolved around British characters.
|Tales from the Crypt|
|Created by||Steven Dodd|
|Starring||John Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper|
|Theme music composer||Danny Elfman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||93 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22–29 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Tales from the Crypt Holdings (Warner Bros. Television and The Geffen Film Company)|
Warner Bros. Television
|Audio format||Dolby Surround 2.0|
|Original release||June 10, 1989 – July 19, 1996|
|Related shows||Tales from the Cryptkeeper|
Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House
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 from the foyer to the hallways and stairways, and finally descends into the basement. The show's host, the Crypt Keeper, then pops out from his coffin, cackling wildly; finally, green slime pours down over the screen as the main title appears. The Crypt Keeper is an animated corpse, as opposed to the original comics in which he was a living human being. The wisecracking Crypt Keeper (performed by puppeteers like Van Snowden, Mike Elizalde, Frank Charles Lutkiss, Patty Maloney, Anton Rupprecht, Shaun Smith, David Stinnent, Mike Trcic, and Brock Winkless, and voiced by John Kassir) would then introduce the episode with intentionally hackneyed puns (e.g. his frequent greeting to viewers: "Hello, Boils and Ghouls" or "Hello, Kiddies"). Each episode was self contained, and was bookended by an outro sequence again involving the Crypt Keeper. Comic book cover art was created by Mike Vosburg and Shawn McManus.
The success of the series led to numerous spin-offs and films.
In 1995, a film spin-off from the TV series was produced by Universal Pictures, Demon Knight. After it became a commercial success, Universal greenlit two more Tales from the Crypt films, intending to produce a trilogy. The second film, Bordello of Blood, was released in 1996. It was a box office bomb, and was generally disliked by critics and fans of the series.
As a follow-up to Demon Knight, producers planned to make a film titled Dead Easy (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday), a New Orleans zombie film, but the producers felt the scripts lacked humor and leaned too heavily towards horror. A rewrite was done by The X Files writer Darin Morgan. The executive producers loved it but the producers Gilbert Adler and A L Katz rejected it.  The third film that was planned, Body Count, written by two other X Files writers James Wong and Glen Morgan also never found its way to the screen again due to Adler and Katz rejecting the script. Both Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk till Dawn and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners were considered as possible Tales from the Crypt movies. The film Ritual (2002) was not produced as a Tales from the Crypt film, but is considered to be an unofficial entry in the Tales series.
In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon called Tales from the Cryptkeeper was spun off from the HBO series. Produced by Nelvana for ABC, the violence of the prime-time series was substantially toned down and the gore was omitted. Nelvana employed a child psychologist to review the scripts to ensure the episodes would be suitable for young viewers. The Cryptkeeper puppet was considered as the host for the series but it was ultimately decided that it might frighten youngsters, so instead an animated version was created (which bore more of a resemblance to the puppet than the version of The Cryptkeeper that originated in 1950s EC Comics) and John Kassir was retained as his voice. "Nelvana created a kinder, gentler personality for the children's Crypt Keeper, and it feels a little uncharacteristic at times," Kassir later said. In addition to the Cryptkeeper, EC Comics' mascots The Vaultkeeper and The Old Witch also made frequent appearances, often fighting with the Cryptkeeper for control of the show's hosting duties. The series lasted two seasons on ABC with a total of 26 episodes.
In 1999, the show was revived on CBS for an additional 13 episodes under the title New Tales from the Cryptkeeper.
A kid's game show called Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House was featured on CBS from 1996 to 1997. The Cryptkeeper (again voiced by John Kassir) was the announcer of the show (he would often break into the action with appropriate wisecracks), and contestants competed in physical challenges on a variety of elaborate haunted house sets at Universal Studios Florida. In addition to The Cryptkeeper, the series also boasted an original character named Digger the Skeleton (voiced by Danny Mann).
In 2000, several Tales from the Crypt "radio shows" were recorded for Seeing Ear Theatre, an online subsidiary of The Sci-Fi Channel, and were offered free as streaming RealAudio files on their website, as well as for sale on Audible.com. Although 13 episodes were planned (with forthcoming episodes listed as "TBA"), only 8 stories were recorded. Seven of the eight shows were released on CD in 2002 by Highbridge Audio ("This Trick'll Kill You" was omitted from the CD set).
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.
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.
In 1991, Big Screen Records released a soundtrack album featuring assorted music from the series. The album includes the theme music, suites from 11 episodes and an original song titled "Crypt Jam" performed by The Cryptkeeper (John Kassir). A music video for "Crypt Jam" was filmed and is available as an extra on the Region 1 Season 3 DVD.
|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|
|13||The Crypt Jam||Chuckii Booker||4:30|
In 1994, a Christmas album, Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, was released by The Right Stuff, a subsidiary of Capitol Records. Most of the songs are spoofs of holiday standards performed by the Cryptkeeper, such as "Juggle Bills" (Jingle Bells), "We Wish You'd Bury the Missus" (We Wish You a Merry Christmas) and "Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie" (Deck the Halls), with narration and a few original songs mixed in. The CD booklet includes a black and white reprint of the comic "And All Through the House." The album is now out of print.
|01||Intro to Album||0:51|
|02||Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie||1:55|
|04||We Wish You'd Bury the Missus||2:20|
|06||A Christmas Card for the Cryptkeeper||0:51|
|08||Intro to Cryptkeeper's Family Christmas||0:32|
|09||Cryptkeeper's Family Christmas||2:03|
|10||'Twas the Fright Before Christmas||3:55|
|11||Twelve Days of Cryptmas||3:42|
|12||Intro to Revenge of the Cryptkeeper||0:24|
|13||Revenge of the Cryptkeeper||2:18|
|14||Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas||2:21|
|15||Should Old Cadavers Be Forgot||3:38|
In 2000, Capitol Records released another album titled Tales from the Crypt: Monsters of Metal. This album is a compilation of horror-themed songs from popular heavy metal bands with wraparound narration by the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir).
|01||The Cryptkeeper Intro #1||John Kassir||0:30|
|02||Heaven and Hell||Black Sabbath||6:54|
|03||Creepy Feelings||Armored Saint||5:21|
|05||The Cryptkeeper Intro #2||John Kassir||0:14|
|06||Cemetery Gates (Demon Knight)||Pantera||5:47|
|07||Eyes of a Stranger||Queensrÿche||4:40|
|09||The Cryptkeeper Intro #3||John Kassir||0:35|
|10||Dead Inside||Arch Enemy||4:11|
|11||Beyond the Realms of Death||Judas Priest||6:53|
|12||Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck||Prong||4:12|
|13||The Cryptkeeper Intro #4||John Kassir||0:16|
|14||Don't Talk to Strangers||Dio||4:52|
|15||Bordello of Blood||Anthrax||4:12|
|16||The Bell Witch||Mercyful Fate||4:34|
|17||The Cryptkeeper Intro #5||John Kassir||0:21|
|19||Hollow Ground||The Haunted||4:10|
|20||Beyond the Black||Metal Church||6:22|
|21||The Cryptkeeper Ending||John Kassir||0:46|
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. On June 6, 2017, all seven seasons were reissued in a box set entitled Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Series. A Region 2 version of the whole series was released by '84 Entertainment on June 4, 2010.
|Title||Release date||Episodes||Discs||Special features|
|The Complete First Season||July 12, 2005||6||2||
|The Complete Second Season||October 25, 2005||18||3||
|The Complete Third Season||March 21, 2006||14||3||
|The Complete Fourth Season||July 25, 2006||14||3||
|The Complete Fifth Season||October 31, 2006||13||3||
|The Complete Sixth Season||July 24, 2007||15||3||
|The Complete Seventh Season||October 23, 2007||13||3||
|The Complete Series||June 6, 2017||93||20|
In the United Kingdom, the series was aired late-night Fridays on ITV. Sky1 Satellite and cable channel Horror Channel (then Zone Horror) aired the series in both late-night and daytime slots. The daytime versions were billed as 'cut', although, they remained uncut.
Tales from the Crypt won the following awards:
In July 2011, it was announced that Gilbert Adler, who produced the original series, was working with Andrew Cosby to develop a new Tales from the Crypt series. It was said to be a continuous story, rather than an anthology, and would also omit the Crypt Keeper. The series was unsuccessfully shopped to several major networks.
In January 2016, Entertainment Weekly reported that M. Night Shyamalan would helm a series reboot as part of TNT's new two-hour horror block. The network ordered a 10-episode season that was slated for fall 2017. The show was to keep the episodic anthology format, but without the Crypt Keeper. In June 2017, it was announced that TNT would not move forward with the series due to legal rights issues concerning the rights for the character of the Crypt Keeper from HBO.
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Tales from the Crypt may refer to:
Tales from the Crypt (comics), a comic book published by EC Comics during the 1950s
Tales from the Crypt (film), a 1972 Amicus film starring Ralph Richardson partially based on the comic book
The Vault of Horror, also known as Tales from the Crypt II, a 1973 sequel starring Terry-Thomas, Dawn Adams, Denholm Elliot, and Curt Jurgens also partially based on the comic book
Tales from the Crypt (TV series), a horror anthology television series that ran from 1989 to 1996 based on the comic book
Demon Knight, also known as Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, a 1995 film starring Billy Zane, William Sadler and Jada Pinkett Smith that acted as a spin-off from the television series
Bordello of Blood, also known as Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood, a 1996 film starring Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak, Angie Everhart and Corey Feldman based on the television series
Ritual (2002 film), also known as Tales From the Crypt Presents: Ritual, 2002 release and the fifth installment (third of the HBO spinoffs) in the series starring Tim Curry, Jennifer Grey and Craig Sheffer
Tales from the Crypt (album), a 1995 album by American rapper C-BoTrapped Ashes
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