There are a lot of surprising things that I was not aware of about when it came to Tales From the Crypt. Not only is this the fourth season that I’m reviewing, but there were a couple more seasons on top of everything else. Now granted, the show’s executive producers have a bit of a good pedigree. There’s Richard Donner (16 Blocks), Walter Hill (Aliens), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), Joel Silver (The Matrix) and David Giler (Myra Breckenridge).
And yet another surprise was the starpower that this show brought in. They included Tom Hanks (Philadelphia), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Brad Pitt (Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Joe Pesci (Goodfellas), Blythe Danner (Brighton Beach Memoirs), Treat Williams (Everwood), Cleavon Little (Blazing Saddles), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights) and Donald O’Connor (Singin’ in the Rain). Then there are the directors and writers, William Friedkin (The French Connection), John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury), Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers).
The big question you have to ask yourself is how the hell did so many recognizable names get involved in a show that was essentially junk food for the mind, eyes and ears? Well, I’m sure it’s all part of an urge for these people to stray away from such serious material and go into the ridiculous and sublime. It’s a Twilight Zone without the compelling story but with more gore, and what’s so wrong with that? The long-running HBO show, hosted by a rotten zombie-like insect of a puppet voiced by John Lassir (Madagascar) aired weekly and featured an episode that was usually was a mix of supernatural and horror that featured twists of Hitchcockian or Shakespearean plot, but not as profound (or good).
But it’s here to be one thing and one thing only; a Friday night cult classic. Tales From the Crypt does that well, and the names and faces that you know are things that shouldn’t dissuade you from enjoying this now that it’s on DVD, especially as the seasons get out there on a more frequent basis.
Nothing special has been done for the release of the show on DVD, so all you get is a 2 channel Dolby mix. Everything is reproduced well with little to fear in the way of mosquito noise. There wasn’t any low end fidelity in the episodes I watched, but it’s not a big deal.
No one was thinking of filming a TV show in widescreen in the early ‘90s, so all you get is the love of full frame attention. No edge enhancement or artifacts to speak of, and every bit of blood and gore looks as red as it’s going to be.
There’s an episode commentary on ”What’s Cookin’” with Kassir, writer Alan Katz and show “chronicler” Digby Diehl. It’s OK, Kassir stays in character for whatever reason, but it’s an OK commentary. A second piece on the stars that appeared in the season, hosted by Kassir’s Cryptkeeper. It’s nothing more than a highlight reel of sorts, so it’s a little disappointing.
Tales From the Crypt is something that is fun to watch in short, sustained bursts, but when binge viewing doesn’t really hold up all that well. However it’s something that shouldn’t be judged on too many critical merits. With this cast and crew, even semi-solid efforts are worth the time and energy, and now that it’s on video, is a firm thing to view or buy whenever you’re in the mood for a quick fix of cheap scares and funny moments.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Season Four Guest Star Footage