The Witching Hour ’17 Night Sixteen: Tales from the Crypt

The shadows gather around us once again. Take our hands and wander with us into the darkness where the monsters gather. We’re bringing you 31 horror reviews in October. Whatever you do, don’t let go of our hands lest you find out what truly goes bump in the night.

In the summer of 1989 a new horror-comedy series made its debut on television. Because its home was a premium cable channel, this series would be free from network television censorship. It had more profanity, more blood, more violence and it was freaking great. I am of course talking about Tales from the Crypt.

Hosted by a rotting corpse known as the Cryptkeeper, originally the child of a two-faced circus attraction and an ancient mummy. Cryptkeeper typically appears at the beginning and end of each episode and is well known for awful (and occasionally hilarious) puns and high-pitched shrieking laugh. Think of him as the show’s answer to Rod Serling if Rod was a comedian. And undead.

Meet the CryptKeeper

You can tell that the show was a labor of love from the cast and crew. Watch the opening sequence and look at all of the detail in the abandoned mansion. The cobwebs, candlesticks, carvings and set decorations.

The creator of the show was HBO and most of the episodes were based on stories from the 1950s comic series also known as Tales of the Crypt from EC Comics though some episodes were inspired by other horror comics owned by the same publisher. The series is an anthology show, usually showing all new characters in every episode.

Surprisingly, Tales from the Crypt attracted a large number of actors and directors who were already (or would become) famous. Robert Zemeckis, Demi Moore, Dan Akroyd, Daniel Craig, Patricia Arquette, Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael J. Fox are only a few high profile celebrities who have been attached to the show.

If I had to pick a couple of episodes to talk about, I would pick Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone and Dead Right. In the first episode, Joe Pantoliano plays a vagrant named Ulric who agrees to a medical experiment involving the cells that give a cat nine lives. The experiment is a success and Ulric now has the ability to die and return to life. Ulric partners with carnival owner Ulric (played by Robert Wuhl). They devise a new show attraction which consists of Ulric being killed and resurrected in front of a crowd. The show ends with Ulric making a horrible realization…

features Demi Moore in the role of Cathy, a cold-hearted gold digger. She wants to marry a rich man and live a luxurious lifestyle. Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, Transparent) plays a morbidly obese and creepy man named Charlie Marno. A psychic medium tells Cathy that he will inherit a fortune and then he will die. Despite being repulsed by Charlie, Cathy marries him believing that she will receive his future riches when he dies.

Tales from the Crypt is a great choice to show at a Halloween gathering so long as everyone is around is in their teens. If you are looking for something to show younger viewers, try the Tales from the Cryptkeeper cartoon. It is a spinoff and considerably toned down from its live action counterpart.

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