Hugely popular in the 1950s, but politically excoriated and ultimately shut down, EC Comics such as Tales from the Crypt saw their stories revived first in the theatrical Amicus anthologies of the early 70s, and then as this TV series. Here is the first season (a mere six half-hour episodes), directed by the likes of Richard Donner, Walter Hill, Robert Zemeckis and Mary Lambert, among others. The stories are very faithful to the spirit of the comics (and are taken from actual stories)… and play out as simple, gory morality tales. A husband, driven mad by his wife’s love of animals, takes up taxidermy, only to wind up stuffed himself. A newlywed couple takes refuge in a spooky old house, where the husband plans to do away with his rich wife, only to have the tables unexpectedly turned on him. And so on. Lots of blood, over-the-top performances, and nary a moment that takes itself seriously. Good family fun, in other words.
The 2.0 track does a nice job, especially by the standards of too many television transfers. The music, of course, has the full surround treatment, but there are plenty of sound effects (thunder and the like) that come from all sides too. The dialogue is clear and undistorted.
Too many TV discs have serious grain problems, but this one looks just fine. There is virtually no grain, the blacks are terrific (essential in a horror context), the contrasts are strong, and the blood is a bright, bright red. The image is sharp, too. Colour me happy.
Both the extras are on Disc 2, and I don’t think they justify a separate disc, but there you have it. Anyway, “Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television” is a useful history, starting with the controversies and senate hearings, and moving on from there. “Crypt Keeper’s History of Season One” has as a conceit the idea that the Crypt Keeper was the creative force behind the series. He tells his side of things, and while some nuggets of information get through, this is essentially a one-joke concept stretched to the breaking point. The intro to the menu is very long (but is skipable, fortunately). The main screen is animated and scored, and the secondary screens are scored.
Very cheerful stuff for all the murder and mayhem going on. Just like the comic books. A nice treat.
Special Features List
- “Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television”
- “Crypt Keeper’s History of Season One”