Tales from the Crypt (TV series)

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
Tales from the crypt title shot
Created bySteven Dodd
Based on
StarringJohn Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper
Theme music composerDanny Elfman
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes93 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time22–29 minutes
Production company(s)Tales from the Crypt Holdings (Warner Bros. Television and The Geffen Film Company)
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkHBO[1]
Audio formatDolby Surround 2.0
Original releaseJune 10, 1989 – July 19, 1996
Related showsTales 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,[2] 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.[3][4] 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.[5]

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. [6] 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.[3][7] 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.[8]

Tales from the Cryptkeeper

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.[9] The Cryptkeeper puppet was considered as the host for the series[9] 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.[9] 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.

Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House

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).

Radio series

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,[10] as well as for sale on Audible.com. Although 13 episodes were planned (with forthcoming episodes listed as "TBA"), only 8 stories were recorded.[11] Seven of the eight shows were released on CD in 2002 by Highbridge Audio[12] ("This Trick'll Kill You" was omitted from the CD set[11]).

Two-Fisted Tales

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.

Perversions of Science

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.[13] 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.[14]

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

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

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.

Track Title Length
01 Intro to Album 0:51
02 Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie 1:55
03 Juggle Bills 3:17
04 We Wish You'd Bury the Missus 2:20
05 Moe Teitlebaum 2:32
06 A Christmas Card for the Cryptkeeper 0:51
07 Christmas Rap 3:22
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

Monsters of Metal

In 2000, Capitol Records released another album titled Tales from the Crypt: Monsters of Metal.[15] This album is a compilation of horror-themed songs from popular heavy metal bands with wraparound narration by the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir).

Track Title Artist Length
01 The Cryptkeeper Intro #1 John Kassir 0:30
02 Heaven and Hell Black Sabbath 6:54
03 Creepy Feelings Armored Saint 5:21
04 Five Magics Megadeth 5:41
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
08 Hallucinating Apartment 26 3:40
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
18 Wolverine Blues Entombed 2:10
19 Hollow Ground The Haunted 4:10
20 Beyond the Black Metal Church 6:22
21 The Cryptkeeper Ending John Kassir 0:46

Home media

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.[16]

Title Release date Episodes Discs Special features
The Complete First Season July 12, 2005 6 2
  • All New Introduction by the Crypt Keeper
  • Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television
  • Crypt Keeper's History of Season One
The Complete Second Season October 25, 2005 18 3
  • Behind-the-Screams Shockumentary Feature
  • Fright and Sound: Bringing the Crypt Experience to Radio
The Complete Third Season March 21, 2006 14 3
  • A Tall Tales Panel
  • A Tales from the Crypt Reunion: A Panel Discussion
  • Crypt Jam Music Video
The Complete Fourth Season July 25, 2006 14 3
  • Commentary on 'What's Cookin
  • Stars of Season 4 Montage Hosted by the Crypt Keeper
The Complete Fifth Season October 31, 2006 13 3
  • Death of Some Salesmen: Virtual Comic Book
The Complete Sixth Season July 24, 2007 15 3
  • Whirlpool: Virtual Comic Book
The Complete Seventh Season October 23, 2007 13 3
  • Fatal Caper: Virtual Comic Book
The Complete Series June 6, 2017 93 20


Reruns aired on FOX from 1994-1995 under the name Primetime Tales of the Crypt and also aired late-night on CBS in 1997, it also aired on Syfy, as well as Chiller and Fearnet.

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:

  • 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")


  • 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 in the episode "The Secret")
  • 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 in the episode "People Who Live in Brass Hearses")
  • 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")

Cancelled reboots

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.[17]

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.[18] The network ordered a 10-episode season that was slated for fall 2017.[19] The show was to keep the episodic anthology format, but without the Crypt Keeper.[20] 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.[21]


  1. ^ Willman, Chris (June 10, 1989). "'Crypt' Tales Subtle as a Sledgehammer". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  2. ^ Barnes, Mike (2010-09-28). "Hollywood puppeteer Van Snowden dies". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  3. ^ a b "SHOCK takes a critical look at a double-dose of TALES FROM THE CRYPT features on Blu-ray". ComingSoon.
  4. ^ Tales from the Script, by Anthony C. Ferrante, Fangoria Magazine, No. 140, March 1995 p. 23
  5. ^ "Bordello of Blood". Dread Central.
  6. ^ The Bordello Follows, Fangoria Magazine, No. 156, September 1996, p. 29
  7. ^ Who's Afraid of The Frighteners? by Michael Helms, Fangoria Magazine, No. 154, July 1996, p. 36
  8. ^ "Bordello of Blood". The Digital Bits.
  9. ^ a b c Diehl, Digby (1996). Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives. St. Martin's Press.
  10. ^ "Seeing Ear Theatre: SSF Audio". Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Review of Tales from the Crypt: SSFaudio". Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  12. ^ "HighBridge Audio - Tales from the Crypt - Dramatization". Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  13. ^ "Tales From The Crypt Soundtrack (1989)". www.soundtrack.net. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Tales from the Crypt DVD News: Extras for 3rd Season Revealed in Press Release". Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  15. ^ "AllMusic - Tales from the Crypt: Monsters of Metal". Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  16. ^ "WorldofMovies.net: Announcement for German Region 2 DVD of Season 1 (German)". worldofmovies.net. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  17. ^ "New 'Tales From the Crypt' Series in the Works". July 28, 2011.
  18. ^ Hibberd, James (January 7, 2016). "Tales From the Crypt returning: Series reboot with M. Night Shyamalan". Entertainment Weekly.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 14, 2016). "'Tales from the Crypt' Series, IM Global's 'Time Of Death' Pilot Greenlighted For M. Night Shyamalan's TNT Horror Block". Deadline.
  20. ^ "Shyamalan Talks Tales from the Crypt Reboot Crypt Keeper". slashfilm.com. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  21. ^ Lussier, Germain (2017-06-01). "TNT Has Killed the Tales From the Crypt Reboot". Retrieved 2017-06-01.

John Kassir/Crypt Kepper interview on Slasher Radio Podcast (www.SlasherRadio.com) episode HERE discussing past episodes of TALES FROM THE CRYPT as well as reboot attempts/issues.

External links

Elliot Silverstein

Elliot Silverstein (born August 3, 1927, in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American director, who is best known for being the director of the movie Cat Ballou (1965).

Greg Wise

Matthew Gregory Wise (born 15 May 1966) is an English actor and producer. He has appeared in many British television works, as well as several feature films (notably the role of John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility).

Harry Keramidas

Harold Thomas Keramidas (born August 31, 1940) is an American film and television editor. He is perhaps best known for his work in the Back to the Future film trilogy, co-editing with Arthur Schmidt. He has also edited the films Children of the Corn, About Last Night..., The Favor, Judge Dredd, among other films. His older brother George "Furious George" Keramidas is a soccer star.

He is alumnus of University of Michigan and Wayne State University, graduating with a degree in Industrial psychology. He also studied ethnographic filmmaking at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Howard Deutch

Howard Deutch (born September 14, 1950) is an American film and television director who worked in collaboration with filmmaker John Hughes, directing two of Hughes's best-known screenplays, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. Since 2011, he has primarily directed television productions, including multiple episodes of Getting On and True Blood.

Hunt Sales

Hunt Sales (born March 2, 1954) is an American rock drummer, who has played with Todd Rundgren, his brother Tony Fox Sales, Iggy Pop and Tin Machine.

Jack Kamen

Jack Kamen (; May 29, 1920 – August 5, 2008) was an American illustrator for books, magazines, comic books and advertising, known for his work illustrating crime, horror, humor, suspense and science fiction stories for EC Comics, for his work in advertising, and for the onscreen artwork he contributed to the 1982 horror anthology film Creepshow.

James Tolkan

James Stewart Tolkan (born June 20, 1931) is an American actor, known for his work in films such as Serpico, Top Gun and the Back to the Future franchise.

Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman

Jeffrey Price (born 1949) and Peter S. Seaman (born 1951) are American screenwriters who have worked together on several films and television series.

Kill City

Kill City is a studio album by Iggy Pop and James Williamson, both ex-members of the Stooges. It was recorded as a demo in 1975 but released in altered form in November 1977 by record label Bomp!.

Merl Saunders

Merl Saunders (February 14, 1934 – October 24, 2008) was an American multi-genre musician who played piano and keyboards, favoring the Hammond B-3 console organ.

Mike Hinton

Michael David Hinton (May 4, 1956 – August 1, 2013) was an American guitarist, residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his career, he played with numerous bands, including Norton Buffalo and the Knockouts, High Noon, Merl Saunders & the Rainforest Band, to name a few. He appeared on several albums with the Rainforest Band and other Merl Saunders projects, including It's In The Air, Fiesta Amazonica, Still Having Fun, Merl Saunders With His Funky Friends - Live, and Still Groovin' .

Mike Vosburg

Mike Vosburg (born July 23, 1947) is an American comic book artist primarily known for his work on the Tales from the Crypt TV series.

Pasquale Buba

Pasquale A. "Pat" Buba (April 16, 1946 – September 12, 2018) was an American film editor, noted for his longtime collaboration with George A. Romero.

Peter Allen (composer)

Peter Allen (born 18 February 1952) is a Canadian composer, organist, and keyboard player. An associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers, his compositions encompass a broad repertoire from film scores and commercial jingles to sacred music and avant-garde electroacoustic music. He has composed numerous works for CBC Radio and CBC Television.

Shelley Hack

Shelley Marie Hack (born July 6, 1947) is an American model, actress, producer, and political and media advisor. Hack is best remembered as the face of Revlon's Charlie perfume from the mid-1970s until the early 1980s, and for her role as Tiffany Welles in Season 4 (1979–1980) of the ABC television drama Charlie's Angels, replacing the departing Kate Jackson. She appeared in a total of 26 episodes of the series, before being replaced in Season 5 by model-actress Tanya Roberts.

Sherrie Rose

Sherrie Rose (born February 24, 1966) is an American actress, producer, director, and screenwriter. She co-produced, directed, wrote and starred in the 1999 road drama Me and Will, starring Patrick Dempsey. The film opened the Women in Film Series for Sundance and appeared in many film festivals. She is a filmmaker, actress and writer.

Rose has also appeared in small roles in over 60 films including Killer Crocodile (1989), No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers (1990), The King of the Kickboxers (1990), Maximum Force (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), New Crime City (1994), Demon Knight (1995) and Black Scorpion II (1997), and television shows including Miami Vice, Married With Children, Charmed, and Sons of Anarchy, two "Tales from the Crypt" episodes and the books entitled Tales from the Crypt and Girlfriends.

Tales from the Crypt

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-Bo

Trapped Ashes

Trapped Ashes is a 2006 American horror anthology film with segments directed by Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Monte Hellman, Ken Russell, and John Gaeta. It stars Jayce Bartok, Henry Gibson, and Lara Harris.

Willie Gault

Willie James Gault (born September 5, 1960) is a former American football wide receiver and Olympic athlete. He played in the National Football League for 11 seasons for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders. Considered one of the fastest NFL players of all-time, Gault was a member of the Bears team that won Super Bowl XX, and was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the 1980 Olympics.

Gault played college football at the University of Tennessee from 1979 to 1982. He led the Vols in all-purpose yardage as a sophomore, junior and senior, and was named to the All-American team in 1982. He still holds numerous school kickoff return records.Gault is currently pursuing a career as an actor. He also remains active in masters athletics, setting world masters records in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes for the 45–49, 50–54 and 55–59 age groups.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.