Donations Appreciated!

Tales from the Crypt Recap #1 ”The Man Who Was Death”

An Introduction

Greetings, all! I am Seth Keith, and I welcome you to my Tales from the Crypt recaps. I’m far from a big horror fan, but this is surprisingly one of my favorite shows of all time. The tone of the show never takes itself seriously (unlike many horror movies), and everything is so over the top that you can’t help but enjoy the show. What I wish to do here is review all the episodes (in order of debut) and give people who aren’t familiar with the show a nice recap of the episodes. Then, people can decide which episodes they want to search out (They all should be searched out and watched on your own, but maybe these reviews will make you look for particular ones first). So, without further ado, here is what I will be talking about as far as the shows go…

Plot
A small, spoiler-free description of the plot of the show. Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t end well. Pretty self-explanatory.

Thoughts
The meat and bones of my reviews are my thoughts on the episodes. I will try to keep it as spoiler free as possible (since I know there are people who haven’t seen it before and may want to), but if there are things that need to be said, I will be sure to give fair warning beforehand.

Cryptkeeper Segment
Before and after every episode of the show, we are shown a segment starring The Cryptkeeper, a skeletal figure that acts as the storyteller. He’s voiced by John Kassir, who helped make this show a hit. I seriously do wonder if this show would’ve been the hit it was if these segments weren’t here. I remember as a kid wanting to watch this show solely because of him. I eventually got to see an episode and was terrified, but that’s for another day.

Punny Goodness
This will be a pun from The Cryptkeeper that is so bad I can’t help but groan at it. Yes, there is one of these in EVERY episode.

Blood and Gore
Tales from the Crypt is known for three things: The Cryptkeeper, of course, and over the top blood and gore. This show aired while HBO was still testing original content, so they typically went all out since they weren’t held back by standards and practices. This leads to some wondrously delicious moments in the shows, and I’ll highlight the gore in this segment.

Obligatory Nudity
The third thing Tales from the Crypt was known for was the completely, and often times, unnecessary (as if there is such a thing) tit shots. Some episodes were worse (better?) than others, and I’ll highlight the bouncy goodness here.

Scare Factor
This segment will discuss how scary each episode is. Once again, I’m not a huge fan of horror, and as someone with less experience with the genre than others, I can say that some episodes (especially as a child) were terrifying. Some episodes are absolutely not terrifying, though, which is why this segment appears.

Other Interesting Tidbits
If there is any cool info about any of the actors and/or about the show itself, I will highlight it here. I’m not quite as informative as Cecil when it comes to obscure and random things about the stuff I watch (then again, I don’t know of anyone who is), but I’ll be sure to find at least one thing to talk about.

Last Words
So, there you have it. That’s what I hope to accomplish with this little project of mine, and I hope that some of you enjoy it and some of you potentially find a new show that you want to check out. Until next time, kiddies…
______________________

Tales from the Crypt: Season 1 – Episode 1
”The Man Who Was Death” (First aired: June 10, 1989)

Plot
Niles Talbot (William Sadler) is the executioner at the state penitentiary, but when a law goes through that bans the death penalty, he finds himself out of a job. Despite the death penalty being abolished and being out of a job, Talbot feels it is his job to bring the criminals to justice in his own electric way.

Thoughts
This is the first episode ever to air on TV (part of a three-story premiere including “And All Through The House” and “Dig That Cat…He’s Real Gone”) and is a great way to start off the show. The episode itself wasn’t particularly scary (not even the slightest), which isn’t a bad thing, but when you consider the show was called Tales from the Crypt, it might seem a bit confusing. For me, though, this is a great way to start the show since it shows that not all the episodes are going to be horror fests.

It also helps that the episode is a great one. While it doesn’t jump right into the gore and action, you are always engrossed in the story, thanks to William Sadler’s tremendous storytelling as the psychotic executioner Niles Talbot. He completely captivated me and kept me hooked throughout the entire movie and even had me agreeing with what he was saying at a few points (no matter how messed up in the head he really was). While the other actors and actresses were okay in their own right, this is really Sadler’s show, and he shines through the whole thing.

The direction was also great in the episode; it had a lot of cool shots. I especially liked the shot where Talbot has two wires in front of him and is pulling them apart slowly with an electric current running though (see above picture). There is also a really cool shot early on that shows the city lights and cars driving by over Talbot’s shoulder. These touches really give you a feel for the dark city. While the shots were nice, something else did bug me – the fact that whenever people would be electrocuted, they would make the dumbest faces. I understand that was supposed to be the vibe of the show (humorous, scary, and hokey), but man, some were just stupid. The hot tub death in particular is cringe-worthy.

Do I have any other pet peeves with the episode? If I had to nitpick, I’d say that it was the fastest turnaround for a law I think I have ever seen. Within the span of a week, a huge controversial law is passed and then shot down. It’s very much nitpicking, though, as it doesn’t really bother me that much, but the thought did cross my mind.

Overall, this is a great start to a fantastic show. But, the problem with starting on such a high note? It can only go down from here…
Rating: 8/10

Cryptkeeper Segment
While The Cryptkeeper is known for his high pitched cackle, he didn’t always start off like that. He’s very low talking here and laughs like he has phlegm in his throat. It’s effective at setting a creepy atmosphere, but I would be lying if I didn’t enjoy the pun spewing, high pitched Cryptkeeper a lot more.

Punny Goodness
“Don’t worry, though; I’m sure he never knew WATT hit him!”

Blood and Gore
This episode is very tame. Since every kill is done with electricity, there isn’t much blood to be had here. Talbot was right; electricity sure is clean for killing.

Obligatory Nudity
We get a nice shot of Dani Minnick naked in the shower, showing some side breast as well as her butt. Also, at one point Talbot visits a strip club, so you can guess where it goes from there. Suffice to say, what this episode lacks in gore more than makes up for in nudity.

Scare Factor
The scare factor is almost non-existent. On top of the fact that all the kills are clean during most of the more intense moments, wacky circus music is playing. So, even if they would be scary, the circus music makes them so outlandish that you can’t help but chuckle. Of course, that’s the charm of the episode, and I don’t think it was ever meant to scare.

Other Interesting Tidbits
Robert Winley plays a biker in this episode who gets killed mid way though. If he looks familiar to you, it’s because he plays yet another biker in Terminator 2. While he does escape with his life in the movie, being mugged and stripped by a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t sound too appealing, either. Guess some people can’t catch a break, huh?

Last Words
So, there you have it. Episode one down…only ninety-two more to go. If only the rest of the ninety-two were as good as this one…

Next Up: “And All Through The House…”

17 Responses to “Tales from the Crypt Recap #1 ”The Man Who Was Death””

  • Ed:

    Nicely done Keef! I never watched Tales…on HBO, I watched it on Fox, they used to show an hour’s worth of episodes at 11pm on Fridays (I think) and I remember enjoying this show a lot. Good write up, I look forward to the rest!

    • Keith:

      Glad you enjoyed it. The biggest problem with Tales on FOX was that a lot were edited for content (of course, cable is much more lenient with content than network), so you never get the full feel for the episode. But it did open the door to a whole new audience (including yours truly) who otherwise couldn’t watch the show. I only seen a few episodes when they originally aired (one of which scared me for quite a while) and I didn’t really fall in love with the show until I saw most episodes on VHS.

  • JOSH:

    Love the reviews. Can’t wait to see more.

    Though I will have to read this on the PC as I found the format isn’t moblie friendly (at least iPhone) it comes across as oddly spaced. But on the PC no issues.

    Also, since I would love to read the reviews and watch the episodes or watch the episode and read the reviews any place where we have these available to stream that you know of? Like Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo?

    • Cecil:

      I just checked and yeah, the formatting gets wonky on mobile. Bear with me, I didn’t think to test this on mobile. When I get home tonight I’ll see if I can fix it. It shouldn’t be a huge deal, I think I know what the issue is.

      As far as where to see the episodes I believe they are on HBO GO. I’ll check that out later too. 🙂

    • Cecil:

      OK, I’m pretty sure that fixed the formatting problem.

    • Keith:

      Thank you very much…more is on the way I assure you…

      I wish I could help you on the finding the episodes for streaming, but I’m watching them on my DVDs…I know they appear on youtube every so often, but we all know how they are with copyrighted material.

      http://youtu.be/4QJQBE7_I6U for this episode

      • JOSH:

        Thanks.

        I actually shot a tweet over the HBOGo help since I figured it would be on there at some point since it was a HBO series (its not). They said it might come back but due to copy right material sometimes the series goes out of circulation….doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me since it was an HBO show but I guess they just let it go similar to Spawn Animated show

  • James:

    Really good stuff! I haven’t watched TFTC in a LONG time, but I’ve been planning on changing that.

    Also, I believe the legendary Gerrit Graham from Phantom of the Paradise, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D., Child’s Play 2, etc. makes an appearance if I remember correctly.

    • Keith:

      You really should change that, its a great show lol

      Yeah, I didn’t do as much in the Other Interested Tidbits part for this episode than I did for the following ones. I could have talked more about Sadler and his extensive career as well…chalk this one up to first time writers block and not having much to say.

  • Iren:

    Hello, Seth, and welcome 🙂
    I’ve watched only few of “Tales” so I’d be very curious about the rest of the show, all good and bad that it has 🙂

    • Keith:

      Believe me, there is plenty bad to go along with the good. You might even say some are “good bad”. WAAA! WAAA! WAAAAA!

  • john:

    I never watched Tales from the Crypt although I have seen two of the films. I watched some of the episodes of Freddys Nightmares when that was on which basically the same concept.

    http://youtu.be/DAYcLUFelQA

    • Keith:

      If you liked the movies you’ll definitely enjoy the TV show…

      I didn’t watch Freddy’s Nightmares as much, but what I did see I did enjoy in a different way. FN was definitely sillier of the two as well as tamer (largely cause it wasn’t on HBO and was held back by what you can get away with on network TV as well as having a smaller budget than Crypt). Plus once Crypt came out, it really took over the horror anthology genre and it wasn’t until Outer Limits was re-done did anything come close to matching the success of Crypt.

  • Cristiona:

    This is a great start and a good idea to fill the gaps between GBF episodes. I never saw the series on HBO, so I only saw sanitized versions. Well, except the movies, which were great fun. And Bordello of Blood has the best use of Ballroom Blitz in film history.

    • Keith:

      Thank you very much, I presented to Cecil a while back and he was thrilled with the idea since he’s a big Crypt fan himself. I would definitely try to see these uncensored as the syndicated one gets rid of a lot of what made it so different from everything else on TV at the time. I’ll try to post what I find on youtube when each review gets posted, but you need to watch them quick…between the copyright infringement and sex and nudity they likely won’t be up there for too long.

      • Cristiona:

        Went poking around on Netflix. Looks like they have seasons 2-7 on DVD. Looks like I’ll be filling up my queue again.

  • Nick Gage:

    The music here was by Ry Cooder. He’s a slide guitar specialist who worked as a session musician with The Rolling Stones, Taj Mahal and others.

Leave a Reply for Cristiona