STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $39.98
RUNNING TIME: 380 minutes
Virtual comic book

The Pitch

"Thirteen more demented morality tales acted out by your favorite B-listers and book ended by horrific puns belted out by a decaying puppet."

The Humans

Ed Begley Jr., Clancy Brown, Steve Buscemi, Tim Curry, Brad Dourif, Ernie Hudson, Bill Paxton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Martin Sheen and John Stamos

The Nutshell

The Crypt Keeper is your normal elderly man. He makes bad jokes, he’s losing his hair, he lives in a dark and dreary home and he smells of decaying flesh. The Keeper differs from his septuagenarian brethren on some other issues though, such as the fact that he no longer pays his AARP dues and he keeps albums full of horror stories instead of baby pictures.

Mark Brunell suits up for the Redskins once again.

Every time you journey into his miniature model of a home, he will delight you with another tale of murder, revenge, romance and insanity. The players in these tales are the most repugnant of people and always get their just deserts, whether it’s getting a shot to the face, getting eaten by a giant gorilla or having to make love to Tim Curry in drag.

Based on the horror tales concocted in the classic EC Comics anthologies, the stories in this series revel in their own two dimensional nature. There are no shades of gray, just good hearted characters and people deserving of mutilation. You won’t have your mind blown by intricate plots, but if you’re a gore hound you’ll go home happy.

Told you not to eat that McRib, dude.

The Lowdown

Tales from the Crypt had a lot of things going for it. Executive producers Richard Donner, Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis all had their hearts in the right place with this project and showed the passion necessary to make it all work. All fans of the demented comic book series as children, they knew they’d have to step it up a notch to give the comics a worthy television adaptation.

They certainly had some great material to work with. While most comic publishers were churning out lame romance and war stories, EC Comics dared to push the envelope with horror and sci-fi tales full of sex and violence, illustrated by some of the top talent in the business. The show takes EC’s lead, emulating the feel of the artwork and casting great actors like Steve Buscemi and Martin Sheen to bring the stories to life.

Most anthology series have been forced to pull their punches thanks to the restrictions put upon them by television standards and the FCC. Tales from the Crypt was free to exploit its macabre and cheesecake roots to the absolute fullest thanks to the fact that it was broadcast on HBO. That means plenty of bloody gore effects and some boob shots in almost every single episode. William M. Gaines would be proud.

Have mercy.

The show definitely started out strong, but by season five the amount of un-adapted EC stories was getting thin and as a result these episodes are hardly the cream of the crop. That said, they’re still incredibly fun and better than most shows on television.

The highlights of this season include “Death of Some Salesmen,” in which Tim Curry plays multiple roles in a demented murderous family, “Forever Ambergris,” in which combat photographers fall victim to germ warfare, “House of Horror,” in which Star Trek superstar Wil Wheaton investigates a haunted house and “Till Death do we Part,” in which John Stamos stamoses all over attractive young women.

The season is short and sweet as with most HBO shows, so the fun is quick to end. If you’re in the mood for quick and dirty horror tales with a rotting tongue planted firmly in cheek, Tales from the Crypt offers some of the best anthology entertainment around.

"…and with this trick I will successfully make my career vanish forever! I call it the ‘Uwe Boll.’"

The Package

Ouch. If the Crypt Keeper were confronted with the lack of special features on this set, he’d be forced to dole out a joke about how it’s more barren than the Old Witch’s withered uterus. The only extra is a lame animated version of one of the original comic book stories, narrated by the Crypt Keeper himself.

Even to fans and collectors of the comics, it still won’t be an entertaining feature seeing as it takes forever to get through and offers nothing new. If Warner wanted to throw a bone to the comic fans, they could have just as easily thrown in some galleries of original series art or thrown in scans of a bunch of the comics as DVD-ROM extras. Unless you have an extraordinary amount of patience, there’s no reason to watch this story time with the Crypt Keeper over the actual episode.

This set continues the new trend for Warner packaging, with the discs being enclosed in slim cases and the episode descriptions on the outside. It doesn’t fit in with the first two seasons on a DVD shelf, but it takes up a lot less space and is much more convenient for quick retrieval of the discs.

It took some stealth, but Sir Nigel Pennyweight finally got a glimpse of the Ghoulies goatse he’d been seeking for so long.

8.0 out of 10