Plot: What’s it about?
Ah yes, Tales from the Crypt. This anthology series combined horror with humor and was a smash success, even with the mainstream audiences. So this was a show horror fans could embrace, but so could everyone else, a rare breed, without question. The series also attracted elite level talent on both sides of the camera, from all star casts to top flight directors. So the talent involved was always high level, including gifted writers and some terrific special effects creators. The end result was a dynamic series that was often hilarious, but also never flinched about going over the top with the horror elements. Now some episodes were more eerie than outright scary, but all in all, the series has a fine variety of styles involved. This first season is only six episodes, and none stand out as instant classics, but it is a more than solid start. I cannot wait for the rest of the episodes, but until then, this first season is a most welcome release. Below is a quick synopsis of the six episodes from this first season, so you know which ones are included here.
1. The Man Who Was Death- After seventeen years of faithful service, Niles Talbot has been fired. He decides not to give up his dream however, so he pursues the profession on his own time. The only problem is, Niles was an executioner. Now he attends trials and if someone is declared not guilty, only because of lack of evidence, he takes it upon himself to deliver lethal justice.
2. And All Through the House- A woman has murdered her husband in cold blood. But now she faces her own potential death, even as Christmas beckons. A madman dressed up like Santa has broken into the house, with an axe in hand. She can’t call the police, as they would discover her husband’s body, so she has to fend off the psycho herself. But will this holiday season prove to be her last, or can she somehow sent Santa back from whence he came?
3. Dig That Cat…He’s Real Gone- Ulrich has perhaps the most unusual job possible. He dies for a living. Yes, he dies in all sorts of ways, all for the approval of the audience. While the rest of us can only die once, Ulrich is able to live nine lives, thanks to a hideous experiment. A doctor grafted a cat’s brain onto Ulrich’s own, which granted him these strange powers. His career is booming and after this, his last stunt, he can retire, but as Ulrich learns, you can’t cheat death.
4. Only Sin Deep- Silvia Vane is a prostitute, but she plans to put her powers of seduction to use and escape her current lifestyle. She is a gorgeous woman, after all, so she wants to seduce a wealthy man and move to a more luxury based life. She has dreamed of money and power her entire life, but she needs to make it happen while she is still young and beautiful. When a strange pawnshop broker offers her ten thousand dollars for her “beauty,” she thinks he is insane and agrees. But when she allowed the cast to be taken of her face, was it just a nutcase’s act or has she cost herself her dreams?
5. Lover Come Hack to Me- Charles thinks he has just guaranteed himself the future most people only dream of, with money to burn. He married Peggy, a woman with immense riches whom he doesn’t love, but plans to take out and bask in the fortune. He plans for the honeymoon to be a fatal encounter, but he doesn’t realize that Peggy has some plans of her own. Just as Charles has his secret, Peggy has secrets too and hers could be even more evil than her new husband’s.
6. Collection Completed- Jonas has been a loyal employee for forty-seven years, but progress has moved on and he has been told to retire. He feels like he has no place in the world, but he hopes his retirement with his wife will be satisfying enough. In order to pass the time, he takes up the hobby of taxidermy, stuffing his wife’s beloved pets so she can forever be with them at her side. As his wife drives him more and more crazy with her behavior, Jonas decides to take his hobby to a new level…
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. I’ve seen this entire series in multiple formats, including original broadcast, video compilations, and the imported DVD collections. I can tell you that this is about as good as it gets. This easily bests the other home video versions, with a much clearer and more refined visual presence. I think time has taken a light toll on the elements, so grain and debris keep the episodes from looking as good as original broadcast. But the print issues are never severe, so don’t be overly concerned. I saw no flaws with colors or contrast either, the black levels look especially good here. A few minor quibbles, but on the whole, these episodes look terrific.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is passable, but doesn’t provide a memorable experience. The Cryptkeeper’s eerie voice comes through loud and clear however, which is crucial. The music also sounds good, but for some reason, the surround presence just isn’t that great. A little more punch could have ramped up the experience, but instead, we’re left with this rather bland soundtrack. The audio isn’t bad however, don’t get that idea, I just know it could have been a richer, more immersive presentation. The basics are covered though, as dialogue is clear as can be and no real problems arise. This release also includes subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. No zombie subtitles though, which is a little unusual in this case.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main supplement here is Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television, an in depth look at the evolution of the material. This piece runs about fifty minutes and chronicles how the comic book was created, but doesn’t cover the series that much. Even so, the story told is an interesting one and you’ll find numerous worthwhile interviews as well. The only other extra here is a five minute piece with The Cryptkeeper, who tells us a little about the first six episodes.