“Hello, boils and ghouls…”
There are certain shows, films and iconic figures in the horror stratosphere that simply ooze terror. A mention of the name and an entire lifetime of memories, scares and shrieks rush forward. A name synonymous with fright that an entire generation stakes claim to as the reason they became horror fans.
One such legendary creepshow is celebrating a sad anniversary today. Twenty years ago, on July 19th, Tales from the Crypt closed its vault for good after seven seasons and ninety-three episodes of good ol’ fashioned chills and kills.
Created by Steven Dodd and based on the comic series by William Gaines and Al Feldstein, Tales From The Crypt debuted on HBO on June 10, 1989. The show was the ultimate horror party, a celebration of scares from year’s past, based on the classic EC Comics titles from the 1950’s. The Crypt of Terror, Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, and Shock SuspenStories birthed many of the story lines for the television series.
Danny Elfman, the ultimate creepy music man, composed the main theme for the series while John Kassir voiced The Cryptkeeper, everyone’s favorite cable horror host.
Each episode’s credits read like a who’s who of Hollywood royalty. From Dan Akroyd, Brad Pitt, Tim Curry, Benecio del Toro, Demi Moore and Brooke Shields as guest stars to Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger as guest directors, Tales.. was the place for groundbreaking horror television.
One of the most memorable episodes of the series’ run was “You, Murderer”, directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring John Lithgow. The episode digitally imposed Alfred Hitchcock and Humphrey Bogart in as characters in a day and age where CGI was still a new technique in entertainment.
Then there’s the horror royalty involved! William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) and a fine gentleman by the name of Tom Holland (!!) all directed episodes, while Brad Dourif, Tim Curry, Bill Paxton and guitarist Slash all starred in episodes.
Tales from the Crypt was a truly groundbreaking television series. It was one of the first major series on a premium cable channel that was completely free of censorship. Sex, violence and gore ran rampant. It was the kind of show children all over the country watched with the volume low so as not to wake sleeping parents. It was an hour of concentrated taboo that was a measuring stick of your bravery and coolness. While Mom and Dad got to discuss the show freely at work or on the telephone with their adult pals, kids were forced to whisper tales of last night’s episode on the recess lot, keeping an eye out for the playground attendant who would most likely tell your teacher what you were talking about and then your teacher would undoubtedly tell your parents!
Recently, it was announced that the man behind Signs, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan, was reviving the beloved series for TNT.
It was announced that Shyamalan will be fronting a two-hour block of terror television on the network, led by Tales.. , which will be based on the EC Comics and not the classic television series.
“It is an umbrella for what hopefully will be many shows, some of which may have a weird sense of humor, some of which may be actually downright frightening…but all united under the Tales from the Crypt brand,” TNT president Kevin Reilly has said.
It’s been reported that a revamped Cryptkeeper will be involved, although as of press time, John Kassir will not be returning. That is an absolute shame, since there is no Cryptkeeper without Kassir’s iconic cackle. So if Shyamalan and company want to really appease the masses, why not keep the Cryptkeeper retired as opposed to forcing a “new” Cryptkeeper on us and bring on another beloved horror host, a man who is quite familiar with TNT already? Yep, I’m talking about Joe Bob Briggs. Hey, a horror fan can dream, can’t he?
The new Tales from the Crypt will premiere this fall.