TALES FROM THE CRYPT:
Tales From The Crypt, along with its sister publications The Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear, will always be remembered as some of the most influential, industry shaping comic books of all time. Published by William M. Gaines’ EC comics, these grisly good comics were adored by the kiddies, but reviled by puritanical adults and were almost solely responsible for the comic book industry beginning self-censorship. During the 1950s, Tales From The Crypt stirred up a hornet’s nest of outrage, due to the graphic nature of its stories. Of course, "so-called experts" saw comic books as solely responsible for juvenile delinquency, thus making them almost as feared as the red menace amongst the adult community.
Sure, my experience with Tales From The Crypt is limited to exposure to reprints, but I can see how an entire generation of kids might have been left emotionally scarred in the 1950s, not by the comic book themselves, but when industry imposed self-censorship murdered their favorite comic and its sister publications. For my money, Tales From The Crypt was and is a great comic book- albeit a sick and twisted one. To this day, Tales From The Crypt proves itself to be pulp fiction of high moral fiber. While its tales were of a ghastly nature, a strong moral compass always pointed towards a conclusion that guaranteed that the guilty were always severely punished by some ironic twist of fate- generally in a very grisly fashion.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features all fifteen episodes that were aired during year six: Let The Punishment Fit The Crime, Only Skin Deep, Whirlpool, Operation Friendship, Revenge Is The Nuts, The Bribe, The Pit, The Assassin, Staired In Horror, In The Groove, Surprise Party, Doctor Of Horror, Comes The Dawn, 99 & 44/100% Pure Horror and You, Murderer. 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 show’s rotting corpse of a host (who does look a little worse for the wear than did his original print counterpart).
Let The Punishment Fit The Crime tells the story an ambulance-chasing lawyer, who discovers a sentence of community service to be far more brutal than she could ever imagine. Only Skin Deep is a tale of sexual conquest, in which you hope you only end up as a notch on someone’s bedpost. Whirlpool shows us life imitating art, with a comic book writer unable to get out of the same rut. Operation Friendship takes then notion of an imaginary friend to an extreme, with unpleasant results. Revenge Is The Nuts is a story in which justice is blind and a man’s cruelties are repaid in kind. The Bribe finds a fire inspector "getting burned" when he tries to put a strip club out of business. The Pit is the story of a pair of conniving wives who find the tables turned on them by their husbands. The Assassin is the story of a housewife who outwits the killers sent in to eliminate her missing assassin husband. Staired In Horror is the story of a cursed house, where one should never venture too far upstairs. In The Groove is the story of a radio DJ, who goes on the record, when he should have stayed on the air. Surprise Party tells the story of a father’s sins being visited on the son at a nasty little soiree. Doctor Of Horror finds a mad doctor and two morgue security guards thrown together in a story with a lot of body and just a bit of soul. Comes The Dawn is the story of poachers, vampires and the peculiarities of the sunrise- way up in Alaska. 99 & 44/100% Pure Horror is the story of a wife who finds washing away her husband’s murder to be harder than expected. You, Murderer is the tale of a corpse dealing a crushing blow to his unfaithful wife and her lover.
Season six’s guest cast for TALES FROM THE CRYPT includes: Catherine O'Hara, Peter MacNicol, Peter Onorati, Rita Rudner, Richard Lewis, Corin Nemec, Tate Donovan, Bibi Besch, Isaac Hayes, Teri Polo, John Savage, Anthony Zerbe, Terry O'Quinn, Max Grodenchik, Benicio Del Toro, Esai Morales, Kylie Ireland, Wayne Newton, William Sadler, Jonathan Banks, Corey Feldman, Shelley Hack, Marshall Teague, D.B. Sweeney, Rachel Ticotin, Wendie Malick, Miguel Ferrer, Jake Busey, Hank Azaria, Travis Tritt, Ben Stein, Austin Pendleton, Michael Ironside, Bruce Davison, Sherilyn Fenn, John Lithgow and Isabella Rossellini.
Warner Home Video has made the episodes that constitute TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Like the preceding collections, the episodes contained here look better than broadcast. Still, these DVDs remain far from what one would consider demonstration material, but do best the earlier releases by a small margin. Sharpness and detail are adequate for mid 1990s television fare, with mild softness being the norm TV programs of this vintage. Colors are fairly natural level of saturation, with some better-saturated hues sprinkled into the mix. Blacks are average and the whites are stable, contrast is decent, but dark sequences can be somewhat murky. The film elements from which the episodes have been mastered display occasional blemishes, but they never become excessive. A grain structure is noticeable much of the time, but isn’t distracting. Digital compression artifacts rarely rise from the dead.
All of the episodes that comprise TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON arrive on DVD with their soundtracks presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Stereo. As expected, these tracks are nowhere near demo quality, but they do get the job done. Channel separations are very limited and the rear channels are very subdued. Background hiss and other audible distortions are not a problem. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. Fidelity is more than respectable, with the music sounding decent. 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 the collection's sole supplemental feature- a virtual comic book version of the episode Whirlpool, which features the artwork of the original comic book upon which the episode is based, along with narration by The Crypt Keeper himself John Kassir.
As always, TALES FROM THE CRYPT is black comic horror fun that will kill ya. Warner's DVD collection is solid, but not perfect. If you loved the original comic books, or the HBO series, then TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON will worm its way into your personal collection.
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