Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tales From the Crypt: A DVD review

Tales From The Crypt was a hugely successful title in the massively popular EC line of comic books in the 1950's. Eventually the EC line of comics met with an untimely end due to a mixture of paranoia on the part of parents, the United States Government and competing comic book publishers taking advantage of the situation. But that is a post for another day. The important thing to know is that EC made the highest quality comics in the 50's in terms of writing and art. EC eventually spawned a huge line of science fiction and crime drama comics in their hay day, and it all started with their genre specialty: horror.

After taking over failing comic book publisher EC from his father (which at that time stood for Educational Comics and contained illustrated Bible stories and historical picture books) William Gaines set a new trend in comics by attempting to scare the readers as much as possible. At which he and the talented artists at EC succeeded at doing to such a successful degree that EC comics shot to the top of the sales charts and the industry created the Comic Book Code, eventually putting EC out of business.

Fast forward to 1989 and the rights to Tales From The Crypt are purchased by a hugely successful group of creators and directors who plan on filming a movie inspired by the EC horror titles. With the movie deal falling through Home Box Office (HBO) were interested in producing original programming that would set them apart from other networks. Long story short, Tales From The Crypt season 1 was born. That successful group of creators who got the show off the ground and took turns directing episodes of the series were all heavy hitters of their time, including: Richard Donner (Diretor: Superman: The Movie, The Omen), David Giler (Producer for the Alien movies), Walter Hill (Writer: the Alien movies, Director: Streets of Fire and 48 Hours), Joel Silver (Producer: Die Hard, The Matrix) and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future).

As impressive as the creative team, the stars who lined up to be in this show are too many to name, but early seasons featured celebrities like Demi Moore and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who also directed the episode) as well as recognizable faces at the time like Lea Thompson (Back to the Future) and Teri Hatcher (who was also Lois Lane in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman!).

Overall, season one of Tales From The Crypt is excellent. Directly adapted from classic EC tales, these episodes are chilling and offer the best scares, despite the first season only having six episodes. Remember, this show was on HBO, so all the gore and violence are included in this set. These episodes are not the edited for network television re-runs that appeared on television in later years. All of the episodes on this set are brilliant, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be the twisted Christmas story And All Through The House, which translated to film particularly well. As with the comic the Crypt Keeper introduces each episode and gives an epilogue full of bad puns and recapping the moral of the story, which tends to soften the impact of the horrific violence and horror contained in each tale.

Also included in this set is an excellent one hour documentary on EC and its colorful history, interviews with the creators of the comic and the creators who were inspired by them. Some big names show up in this interview as well making it a delight to watch. All in all I can't recommend this set highly enough for fans of comic books or horror (of which I am a fan of both). The show contains extremely high production values and this DVD release is of high quality. I'm betting once you get a taste of season 1 you'll KILL to get season 2! (Sorry, had to :D ) Till next time citizens, I leave you with Arnold introducing the episode he directed!