TALES FROM THE CRYPT:
Published by William M. Gainesí EC comics, Tales From The Crypt (not to mention its sister publications) remains the most notorious comic book of all time because of the outrage it created during the 1950s. Although, ghoulish, gruesome and disturbing, Tales From The Crypt was actually a comic book of a high moral fiber. In its own sick and unsettling way, Tales From The Crypt offered stories that ended in such a way that guaranteed that the guilty were always severely punished by some ironic twist of fate.
Unfortunately, during the 1950ís, father didnít always know best, and due to the controversy surrounding Tales From The Crypt (and its sister publications), the comic book industry began censoring itself, much to the dismay of those who loved reading unadulterated horror comics. Fortunately enough, Tales From The Crypt was never forgotten, although the comic books themselves disappeared, and thanks to a group of fans that found themselves well placed in Hollywood- TALES FROM THE CRYPT was resurrected as a popular anthology series on HBO and then later syndicated to late night television.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a three disc set that features all fourteen episodes that were aired during year three: The Trap, Loved To Death, Carrion Death, Abra Cadaver, Top Billing, Dead Wait, The Reluctant Vampire, Easel Kill Ya, Undertaking Palor, Mournin' Mess, Split Second, Deadline, Spoiled, and Yellow. Just like the comic books, each story in this anthology series is amusingly bookended by the comments of The Crypt Keeper (voiced by John Kassir), the showís rotting corpse of a host (who does look a little worse for the wear than did his original print counterpart). Season threeís guest cast includes: Michael J. Fox, Teri Garr, Andrew McCarthy, Mariel Hemingway, David Hemmings, Kathleen Freeman, Kyle MacLachlan, Beau Bridges, Louise Fletcher, Sandra Bernhard, Jon Lovitz, Bruce Boxleitner, John Astin, Whoopi Goldberg, John Rhys-Davies, Malcolm McDowell, Tim Roth, William Atherton, Vincent Schiavelli, Brion James, Marg Helenberger, Faye Grant, Anthony LaPaglia, Tristan Rogers, Anita Morris, Alan Rachins, Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd and Lance Henriksen.
The Trap is a tale about a man who hopes to end his financial troubles by faking his own death. Loved To Death involves a man, a woman and a love potion that works a little too well. Carrion Death is concerned with a thief unable to escape the long arm of the law or the rest of him for that matter. Abra Cadaver features two brothers who take their pranks a little too far. Top Billing follows a frustrated actor who will literally do anything to get a part. Dead Wait finds a crook involve in a game of double cross and revenge, when he tries to steal a black pearl. The Reluctant Vampire finds the title character working in a blood bank as the night watchman. Easel Kill Ya is the story of an artist who discovers that love and death donít mix as well as paint. Undertaking Palor involves a group of youths and the latest subject for their own version of reality TV. Mournin' Mess features a reporter on the trail of a killer stalking the homeless. Split Second features the story of a lumberjack that brings new meaning to the expression love is blind. Deadline features a reporter who goes a little too far to get "the story." Spoiled centers on a woman obsessed with soap operas, who finds her life turning into a macabre little soap. Yellow it the story of a general forced to discipline one of his officers for cowardice- unfortunately the officer turns out to be the generalís own son.
Warner Home Video has made the episodes that constitute TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes look pretty darn good, but by no means are they demonstration material- even for a television series on DVD. In general the episodes appear reasonably sharp and offer more than respectable definition. Colors are fairly strong and are rendered without noticeable chroma noise or other flaws. Contrast is good, but it remains very much at the television level. The film elements from which the episodes have been mastered display some blemishes and other bits of debris, but arenít too bad. A grain structure is noticeable much of the time, but never particularly excessive. Digital compression artifacts are fairly well concealed.
The episodes that comprise TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 channel Surround Stereo. The soundtracks are reasonably effective, but are quite obviously limited by the necessities of television broadcast. As expected, the forward soundstage is completely dominant, with the rears adding mild ambient and musical fill. Channel separations across the front arenít particularly pronounced, but the overall sound is effective for a television production. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and always easy to understand. Fidelity is perfectly fine, with the music coming across fairly well and the sound effects sounding reasonably convincing. No other language tracks are provided, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few extra features. A Tall Tales Panel: A Dissected Look At Tales From The Crypt Season Three includes the production team and fans discussing the series the San Diego Comic Con. A Tales From The Crypt Reunion is another, expanded panel discussion. Crypt Jam is a music video featuring The Crypt Keeper.
As a series, the black comic tinged TALES FROM THE CRYPT was always ghoulish good fun. Warnerís DVD set looks and sounds fine for a mid 1980s cable television fare. If you are a fan, youíll want to add TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON to your video vault. Recommended.
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