TALES FROM THE CRYPT:
Although my experience with Tales From The Crypt, along with its sister publications The Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear, is limited to exposure to reprints, I do know the booksí history and know for sure that these publication will always be remembered as some of the most notorious comic books of all time. But for my money, Tales From The Crypt was and is a great comic book- albeit a sick and twisted one. 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.
Originally published by William M. Gainesí EC comics, these grisly good comic books 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 hornetís 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. Fortunately, the kids that grew up reading Tales From The Crypt, The Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear never forgot them, and even more fortunately, some of those kiddies grew up to be influential members of the motion picture industry, who resurrected those unforgettable comic books for television.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features all thirteen episodes that were aired during its seventh and final year on HBO: Fatal Caper, Last Respects, A Slight Case Of Murder, Escape, Horror In The Night, Cold War, The Kidnapper, Report From The Grave, Smoke Wrings, About Face, Confession, Ear Today... Gone Tomorrow and The Third Pig. Season sevenís guest cast for TALES FROM THE CRYPT includes: Natasha Richardson, Bob Hoskins, Emma Samms, Roy Dotrice, Elizabeth McGovern, Ewan McGregor, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Robert Lindsay, Bobcat Goldthwait and Brad Garrett. Just like the comic books, each story in this anthology series is amusingly bookended by the corny 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).
Warner Home Video has made the episodes that constitute TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Like the preceding sets, the episodes collected here look decent, and thatís about all. The DVD format, by its nature, makes the episodes look a little tighter than they do in the broadcast realm, but this is far from the best looking series to be released on DVD. In general, the episodes produce respectable sharpness and detail, but appear soft compared to other film based television productions from the same period. Colors are reasonably strong and pretty stable. Contrast is adequate for a television production. The film elements from which the episodes have been mastered display some blemishes and other imperfections, but arenít too bad. A grain structure is noticeable much of the time, but isnít too bad. Digital compression artifacts are fairly well concealed.
All of the episodes that comprise TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON arrive on DVD with their soundtracks presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Stereo. This is basic meat and potatoes TV sound, front heavy, with mild reinforcement from the outlying channels. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided, but English 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 Fatal Caper, 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.
Coming from the bottom of the casket, the final helping of TALES FROM THE CRYPT offers up some bloody good black comic horror fun. Warner's DVD collection is as solid as the other sets. If you loved the original comic books, or the HBO series, then youíll want to be entombed with TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON.
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