Tales From The Crypt is a horror series best known for its anthology show on HBO, which was an outlet for violence, sex, Meat Loaf consumption (not the food), and perfectly placed horror themed puns thanks to your old pal The Cryptkeeper.
Anthology series have been around practically since the dawn of television. Hit shows like the original Twilight Zone and Outer Limits paved the way for some pretty crappy knock-offs, including the newer Twilight Zones, Night Gallery, and Monsters.
Good and crap, respectively
Tales From The Crypt wasn't just another anthology rip off, but actually gave the viewers something unique and entertaining to watch. It's funny how well a show can do when it actually has good writers. But they didn't stop there, since the show began back in 1989 we've been treated to a plethora of talented guest stars, many of whome were killed in a gruesome fashion, adding a sort of 'super-satisfaction' to the whole mix. These actors included Jon Lovitz, Joe Pesci, Demi Moore, Steve Buscemi, and Brad Pitt to name a few. The writing was there, and obviously the acting talent as well, but the directors were also top notch, and included Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks, and one of the greatest directing geniuses of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
CROM!!!!! Where's my danish?!
Now, all that high quality writing and acting and shit is all well and good, but what would truly seal the deal and make Tales From The Crypt stand above and beyond the wanna-be anthologies had to do with it being on HBO. Being on a premium channel, the writers weren't forced to pussify the shows contents, and the show lavished horny teenage boys with all the violence, gore, and sex/nudity their eager minds could indulge. Violent acts too awesome for cable TV included Judd Nelson being cooked alive and Jon Lovitz having his skull removed to be used in a staging of Hamlet. Thanks to HBO, Tales From The Crypt also featured its share of good old fashioned fucking (Okay, so Tim Curry playing the role of a fat woman while banging Ed Begley, Jr. isn't exactly old fashioned, but we can roll with it).
The other less impressive anthology series could learn a lesson here, too. Loads of action and sexy women will always be a successful substitute for a coherent plot (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made how much on its opening day?), although thankfully Tales From The Crypt didn't usualy have to take that route.
At times the show could be scary as hell, but more often than not it was comedic and sure as shit didn't take itself seriously.
Well like with any really good program, after a while the law requires it to suck balls. By the seventh and final season the producers apparently felt the show kicked too much ass and decided to move production to Britain. Here we saw pretty much nameless stars aside from Ewan Mcgregor and the guy who voiced Leonardo in the original Ninja Turtles cartoon.
Season 7's most prominent guest star
Also, thanks to being run by Brits, the writing style changed dramatically from "Cool as hell horror with a comedic touch and surprising plot twist" to the ever so boring "Film Noir", exactly the kind of writing Tales From The Crypt fans don't want to see.
Next time on Tales From The Crypt
The show took a nose dive and, unsurprisingly, no longer had a home on HBO.
Over the years Tales has found syndicated home on a number of channels, including FOX, AMC, and the Sci-Fi Channel, but do yourself a favor and stay the hell away. None of these channels are premium and thus will have to censor the ever loving shit out of it due to content and time. Instead, grab the DVDs, they're uncensored and worth your while, except for the final season of course, which should only be sought out by the most avid collectors.
The first movie, simply titles "Tales From The Crypt", was released in 1972 and featured a bunch of actors no one ever heard of. The movie more closely resembled the original comic, which actually sucks because shortly after the comic's creation it became a victim of the Comics Code Authority, another group of people looking to protect our children from having any fun. The Cryptkeeper in the movie was also portrayed by a real person instead of a puppet. Who the hell wants to see real actors when puppets are on the table? Seriously.
Near the end of the HBO series' run, Universal Pictures released two films based on the series. The first one, "Demon Knight", starred Billy Zane, Jada Pinkett Smith, and that crazy old guy from Gremlins. The movie was gory, had plenty of T&A, and was fairly entertaining. The film also saw the best reviews with an astonishing 35% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad.
All down hill from here
"Bordello of Blood" came out a year later, and despite having the awe inspiring acting talent of Dennis Miller, the film received some shitty reviews (15% at Rotten Tomatoes).
Mistake number 1: not nearly as much nudity as the title implies
Five years later a third movie, "Ritual", was released straight to DVD. This one starred Tim Curry and Ferris Bueller's sister, and was nothing more than a low grade B movie (not that the others were exactly A movies) with the Tales From The Crypt logo slapped on the same way the National Lampoon logo is slapped on every fucking straight to video college movie just so it sells 3 or 4 more copies. The Cryptkeeper appeared at the beginning, but the producers apparently trashed the original puppet because this one appeared to be a cheap copy that barely moved when he spoke. The movie's plot was pretty gay too.
Logos can be so misleading
Why did the movies generally suck? Well take that whole thing we mentioned about good writers, actors, and directors, and just toss it the fuck out the window, with the exception of Tim Curry, of course (Though he didn't play a fat woman in this one, sadly). If it wasn't for John Kassir reprising his role as The Cryptkeeper, two of the last three movies would have been a complete waste of time. Stick to the TV show, people.