Tales from the Crypt - The Complete Fourth Season (1989)

Actors: John Kassir
Directors: Ramon Sanchez
Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:
Run Time:
376 minutes

DVD Features:

  • 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


In 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 today’s standards.

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 of stories.

(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 berth.

RECOMMENDATION: 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.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).