TALES FROM THE CRYPT:
For those unfamiliar with the history of Tales From The Crypt the television series, the show is based upon the infamous comic book title, as well as its sister publications The Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear, which were published by William M. Gainesí EC comics. Tales From The Crypt remains the most notorious comic book of all time because of the outrage it created during the 1950s. The comic books were ghoulish, gruesome and disturbing; however, Tales From The Crypt was actually a publication 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, and thanks to a group of well placed fans in Hollywood- TALES FROM THE CRYPT was resurrected as a popular anthology series on the HBO cable network and then later syndicated to late night television.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE FORTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features all fourteen episodes that were aired during year four: None But The Lonely Heart, This'll Kill Ya, On A Deadman's Chest, Seance, Beauty Rest, What's Cookin', The New Arrival, Showdown, King Of The Road, Maniac At Large, Split Personality, Strung Along, Werewolf Concerto and Curiosity Killed. 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 fourís guest cast of TALES FROM THE CRYPT includes: Frances Sternhagen, Henry Gibson, Tom Hanks, Sugar Ray Leonard, Treat Williams, Sonia Braga, Dylan McDermott, Cleavon Little, Tia Carrere, Ben Cross, John Vernon, Cathy Moriarty, Buck Henry, Kathy Ireland, Mimi Rogers, Christopher Reeve, Bess Armstrong, Judd Nelson, Meat Loaf, Joan Severance, David Warner, Zelda Rubinstein, Robert Patrick, David Morse, Brad Pitt, Clarence Williams III, Blythe Danner, Adam Ant, Salome Jens, Burt Young, Zach Galligan, Donald O'Connor, Charles Fleischer, Beverly D'Angelo, Wolfgang Puck, Timothy Dalton, Reginald VelJohnson, Kevin McCarthy, Madge Sinclair and Margot Kidder.
None But The Lonely Heart finds a man unable to rid himself of the elderly women he married for their money. This'll Kill Ya is the story of a dying man exacting his revenge on those who poisoned him. On A Deadman's Chest tells the tale of a rock musician, who canít get his feelings for a band memberís wife off his chest. Sťance finds a fake medium calling upon the dead with unexpected results. Beauty Rest finds the modeling business to be murder. What's Cookin' is the story of a restaurant that finds success by expanding its menu. The New Arrival is the story of a child psychologist who takes on an unusual case. Showdown is the story of a gunslinger whose past comes back to haunt him. King Of The Road follows a drag racer, who takes an unexpected detour after forcing a cop into a race. Maniac At Large tells the tale of a woman who allows her fear of a serial killer to get the best of her. Split Personality finds a con man doubling his pleasure and doubling the terror when he marries a set of twins. Strung Along is the story of a puppeteer, who suspects his wife of yanking more than his chain. Werewolf Concerto is concerned with a hotel that is having a slight problem with a lycanthrope. Curiosity Killed tells the tale of a woman who takes action when she thinks her husband is trying to poison her.
Warner Home Video has made the episodes that constitute TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE FORTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE FORTH SEASON is given a rather nice presentation on DVD, and looks slightly better than the preceding seasons, although this is still not demo material. The picture comes across as fairly crisp and nicely defined. Colors appear pretty well saturated and maintain the garish look of a comic book brought to life. Blacks are pure, whites are stable and contrast is reasonably good, with the picture certainly avoiding the flat lighting of a typical eighties era sitcom. The film elements from which the episodes have been mastered display some blemishes and other bits of debris, but arenít too bad. There is a noticeable grain structure much of the time, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts are generally well camouflaged.
All of the episodes that comprise TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE FORTH SEASON come to DVD with their soundtracks presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Stereo. Considering their vintage, the soundtracks are reasonably effective. However the mixes are limited by the necessities of broadcast television during the late 1980s. Not surprisingly, the forward soundstage is completely dominant, with the rears adding mild ambient and musical fill. Channel separations across the front arenít too pronounced, but the overall sound design is fine for a television production. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and always easy to understand. Fidelity is pretty decent, with the music coming across respectably and the sound effects are reasonably convincing. No other language tracks are provided, but 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. What's Cookin' features a running audio commentary with by The Crypt Keeper (AKA John Kassir), the episode's writer Alan Katz and Digby Diehl- author of Tales From The Crypt: The Official Archives. The Stars Of Season Four is a four-minute collection of clips that showcases the actors that appear during the showís fourth year.
With its macabre sense of humor, TALES FROM THE CRYPT was always ghoulishly delicious show that horror hounds could sing their teeth into. TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE FORTH SEASON looks and sounds just fine, making this release and must have. Recommended.
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