Tales from the Crypt (TV series)

Tales from the Crypt (TV series)

infobox Television
show_name = Tales From The Crypt

caption = "Tales from the Crypt" title screen
format = Horror
runtime = Various
creator = William Gaines (original concept)
executive_producer = Richard Donner
David Giler
Walter Hill
Joel Silver
David Geffen
Robert Zemeckis
starring = John Kassir
theme_music_composer = Danny Elfman
country = USA
network = HBO
first_aired = June 10, 1989
last_aired = July 19, 1996
num_seasons = 7
num_episodes = 93
list_episodes = List of Tales from the Crypt episodes
followed_by = "Tales from the Cryptkeeper"
"Perversions of Science"
imdb_id = 0096708|

"Tales from the Crypt" is a horror anthology American TV series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on the premium cable channel HBO. It was based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name and was produced by HBO with uncredited association by The Geffen Film Company and Warner Bros. Television (all part of a production consortium officially called Tales From The Crypt Holdings). The series is not to be confused with "Tales from the Darkside", another similarly themed horror anthology series.

It was one of the few anthology series to be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by the FCC, because it was on HBO, a premium cable television station. The station allowed the series to contain graphic violence as well as other content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time, such as profanity, gore, nudity, and sexual situations.

While the series began production in the United States, in the final season filming moved to England, resulting in episodes which revolved around British characters.

It is currently being shown on Zone Horror in the UK, and in the U.S. on NBC Universal's horror-themed cable channel Chiller, which launched on March 1 2007.


Each episode began with a title sequence that was a tracking shot scored by a Danny Elfman theme that led from the front door of the Cryptkeeper's home down hallways and stairways to the basement, where the show's host, the Crypt Keeper, would pop out from a coffin, cackling wildly. Then the wisecracking, decomposing corpse (voiced by John Kassir), would introduce the episode with intentionally corny puns ("Hello, Boils and Ghouls" as a classic example). Each episode was a single story, and was bookended by a sequence involving the Crypt Keeper.

The episode "You, Murderer" (1995) is particularly of note because it was one of the first shows ever filmed that used computer effects to digitally insert actors into an episode. The episode was directed by series producer Robert Zemeckis, who had recently directed "Forrest Gump" which utilized these effects. Alfred Hitchcock appeared in a cameo at the beginning of the episode, and Humphrey Bogart played the starring role for this story. Because both men had been dead for decades, their appearances made the episode very well known amongst fans. This episode was also notable for Isabella Rossellini's guest appearance in which she parodies her lookalike mother, Ingrid Bergman for the first (and only) time.

Very few of the episodes, especially in the early seasons, were based on actual stories from "Tales From The Crypt". Many were instead from other EC Comics series. For instance, season one was predominantly from "The Haunt of Fear", while season two was mostly from "Shock Suspenstories". Tales from "The Vault of Horror" appeared sporadically throughout the series run.

Notable Guest Stars & Directors

One conceit of the series is that many of the episodes involved big-name stars, either as writers, directors, or actors. In this way, many A-list Hollywood stars were appearing on both the big screen and the small screen at the same time.

A list of these actors/guest stars includes Adam Ant, Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Daniel Craig, Tim Curry, Timothy Dalton, Roger Daltrey, Benicio del Toro, Kirk Douglas, Brad Dourif, Whoopi Goldberg, Bobcat Goldthwait, Marg Helgenberger, Mariel Hemingway, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Izzard, John Lithgow, Dylan McDermott, Meat Loaf, Demi Moore, Malcolm McDowell, Donald O'Connor, Joe Pantoliano, Bill Paxton, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt, Iggy Pop, Christopher Reeve, Don Rickles, Mimi Rogers, Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Slash, Ben Stein, John Stamos, Mary Ellen Trainor, Jeffrey Tambor, Lea Thompson, Vanity, Sam Waterston, George Wendt, Adam West, and Treat Williams, among others.

A list of famous directors includes Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many well-established film directors also contributed episodes. They include Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, Howard Deutch, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Walter Hill, Tom Holland, Tobe Hooper, Russell Mulcahy, Elliot Silverstein, and Freddie Francis, who directed the original 1972 film.


In 1991, the Fox television network aired a pilot for "Two-Fisted Tales", a spin-off based on the 1950s EC action comics. When Fox passed on the pilot, Crypt Keeper segments were tacked onto the three stories (Yellow, Showdown, and King of the Road), and HBO ran them as Tales from the Crypt episodes.

Two movies, "Demon Knight" (1995) and "Bordello of Blood" (1996), were based on the series, neither of which was particularly successful. A third movie, "Ritual" was slated for theatrical release in 2001, but was only distributed internationally (without the Tales from the Crypt connection) until 2006 when it was released on DVD in the United States, with the Cryptkeeper bits restored.

The Peter Jackson film "The Frighteners" was originally written as a Tales From the Crypt movie, but was produced and released on its own merit after director Robert Zemeckis read the script.

In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon called "Tales from the Cryptkeeper" was based on the series, with none of the violence or other questionable content that was in the original series, but kept John Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper.

A kid's game show called "Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House" was also spun off from the series in 1996, there the cryptkeeper plays the announcer during the game show.

After the original series ended, a spin-off called "Perversions of Science" premiered in 1997 on HBO, this time being based on science fiction instead of horror. The series only lasted for a short run, and was cancelled the same year.

West End Games adapted material from the series into a role-playing game sourcebook, "The World of Tales from the Crypt", using the Masterbook system.

DVD Releases

Warner Home Video has released all 7 seasons of the series on DVD for region 1. The DVDs for Seasons 1-3 are unique because they feature all-new Crypt Keeper introductions and segments. No such segments were filmed for Seasons 4-7. Region 2 releases have not been announced yet.


"Tales from the Crypt" won the following awards:
* the 1991 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Half-Hour - ADR
* the 1992 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Episodic - Effects and Foley
* the 1993 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Television Episodic - Effects and Foley
* the 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "People Who Live in Brass Hearses")


* the 1990 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (William Hickey in the episode "The Switch")
* the 1991 Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Cable Special (Mike Simmrin)
* the 1992 Casting Society of America's Artios Award for Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic
* the 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kirk Douglas)
* the 1994 American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Half Hour Series for Television (for the episode "The Lipreader")
* the 1994 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Tim Curry in the episode "Death Of Some Salesman"), Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series
* the 1994 Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actor Guest Starring in a Television Show (Raushan Hammond)
* the 1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series
* the 1996 American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series (for the episode "You Murderer")

Technical data

* alternate title: "HBO's Tales from the Crypt"
* episodes: 93
* runtime: 30 minutes (approximate)
* sound: Dolby
* aspect ratio: 1.33 : 1
* series premiere: June 10, 1989

ee also

*List of Tales from the Crypt episodes
*1989 in television
*List of television programs
*List of late night network TV programs

External links


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