THE CRYPT - THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
Tales from the Crypt - The Complete Fourth Season (1989)
Actors: John Kassir
Directors: Ramon Sanchez
Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 3
Run Time: 376 minutes
- Available Available
Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
- 14 complete uncut
episodes on three discs
- Commentary by the
Cryptkeeper (voice by John Kassir), writer Alan Katz, and series
chronicler Digby Diehl on What's Cookin'
- "Stars of Season 4"
montage hosted by the Cryptkeeper
the 1950s a prominent psychiatrist prompted a moral panic when he claimed
that comic books were the biggest cause of delinquency and violence amongst
the youth of the day.
Exhibit A: a series of horror and crime comics
published by William E. Gaines of E.C. Comics. One of the titles published
by Gaines was Tales of the Crypt, which this 1992 HBO TV series tries
to recreate with the help of some well-known Hollywood stars and directors,
a Danny Elfmann theme tune, some horribly bad puns, and the HBO channel’s
relaxed attitude towards nudity and violence.
So cue an unexpectedly high level of gore, for make no mistake: those horror
comics published by Gaines were pretty gruesome even when measured by
Often shock value were the sole raison d’être for these stories
which meant that a lot of them
weren’t that good. Unfortunately this fourth season of the Tales of the
Crypt seems to be saddled with a lot of the unimaginative “wronged
person returning from his or her death to avenge his or her own murder” type
(Worth noting is that
despite their high gore and violence quotient these tales were actually
quite moral since few of the murderers or crooks in them ever got away with
any of their crimes and were always punished for them.)
Only one or two of the
episodes here truly live up to the format’s potential for campy humor. One
of those episodes features former Superman
Christopher Reeve as a fry cook with a dark secret regarding the secret
ingredient of what is making his steakhouse such a big success.
Big name Hollywood stars
include Reeve, Tom Hanks, Treat Williams, Timothy Dalton and Brad Pitt (who
of course weren’t famous back then). Hanks even directed one of the
episodes, incidentally one of the weakest ones.
THE DISCS: The image
quality often betrays the inadequacies of the source analogue tapes source
used, and the image is often grainy. Only special features to be found is an
audio commentary on said episode starring Reeve and a “stars of season 4”
montage in case you missed any of them.
WORTH IT? Fans of
the show would want to check it out and so would horror fans. Non-horror
fans and anyone with an aversion to bad puns should however give it a wide
Tales of the Crypt mixes the sensibility of 1950s horror comics with
late-1980s bad special effects and even worse hair. Sounds like your bag?
Then it probably is . . .
NOTE: By the way
when the backlash against horror comics in the 1950s became too much, Gaines
went on to further fortify the nation’s morals by publishing MAD magazine,
which some commentators (probably correctly) blamed for the ‘Sixties
generation’s disregard for authority.