Tales from the Crypt (TV series)

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Tales from the Crypt
Tales from the crypt title shot.png
Created by William Gaines
Steven Dodd
Based on
Voices of John Kassir
Theme music composer Danny Elfman
Country of originUnited States
Original languagesEnglish
Spanish for Latin American
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes93 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Running time22–30 minutes
Production companiesTales from the Crypt Holdings
Geffen Television
Original network HBO [1]
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Dolby Surround 2.0
Original releaseJune 10, 1989 (1989-06-10) 
July 19, 1996 (1996-07-19)
Tales from the Cryptkeeper
Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House

Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is an American horror anthology television series that ran from June 10, 1989, to July 19, 1996, on the premium cable channel HBO for seven seasons with a total of 93 episodes. It was executive produced by Joel Silver, Richard Donner, Robert Zemeckis, Walter Hill and David Giler (the Crypt Partners). The first two seasons were produced by William Teitler. Beginning the show's third season, HBO and the Crypt Partners hired Gilbert Adler and A L Katz to take over the show. Adler and Katz ran Crypt through to its conclusion five seasons and 69 episodes later.


The show's title is based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name and most of the content originated in that comic or other EC Comics of the time ( The Haunt of Fear , The Vault of Horror , Crime SuspenStories , Shock SuspenStories , and Two-Fisted Tales ). The series is hosted by the Cryptkeeper, a wisecracking corpse performed by several puppeteers and voiced by John Kassir.

Because it was aired on HBO, a premium cable television channel, Tales from the Crypt was allowed to have full freedom from censorship by network standards and practices. As a result, HBO allowed the series to include content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time, such as graphic violence, profanity, sexual activity, and nudity. The series is subsequently edited for such content when broadcast in syndication or on basic cable. While the series began production in the United States, in the last season's filming moved to the UK, resulting in episodes which revolved around British characters.


Each episode begins with a tracking shot leading to the front door of the decrepit mansion of the Cryptkeeper, the show's host. Once inside, the camera tilts down from the foyer to the hallways and stairways, finally descending into the basement. The Cryptkeeper then comes out from his coffin, cackling wildly; green slime pours down over the screen as the main title appears. The Cryptkeeper is depicted as an animated corpse, as opposed to the original comics in which he was a living human being. The wisecracking Cryptkeeper (performed by a team of puppeteers such as Van Snowden, [2] Mike Elizalde, Frank Charles Lutkus, Patty Maloney, David Arthur Nelson, Anton Rupprecht, Shaun Smith, David Stinnent, Mike Trcic, and Brock Winkless, and voiced by John Kassir) would then introduce the episode with intentionally stereotyped jokes and mostly puns, e.g., his frequent greeting to viewers: "Hello, Boils and Ghouls" or "Hello, Kiddies". Each episode was self-contained, and was bookended by an outro sequence, again involving the Cryptkeeper. Comic book cover art was created by Mike Vosburg and Shawn McManus.


The success of the series led Universal Pictures to make a three picture deal with the Crypt Partners to produce three Crypt-branded feature films.


The first Crypt-branded feature was Tales From The Crypt Presents Demon Knight (1995). With a screenplay by Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Vorhis and Mark Bishop, Demon Knight became a commercial success. Three weeks before starting prep on Demon Knight's intended follow up - a psychological thriller called "Dead Easy" - Universal changed its mind, canceled "Dead Easy" and had the creative team make Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood instead.

The film Ritual (2002) was not produced as a Tales from the Crypt film, but is considered to be a third entry in the Tales series. [3]

Tales from the Cryptkeeper

In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon called Tales from the Cryptkeeper was spun off from the HBO series. Produced by the Canada-based Nelvana for ABC in the United States and YTV in Canada, the violence of the prime-time series was substantially toned down and the gore was omitted. Nelvana employed a child psychologist to review the scripts to ensure the episodes would be suitable for young viewers. [4] The Cryptkeeper puppet was considered as the host for the series [4] but it was ultimately decided that it might frighten youngsters, so instead an animated version was created; John Kassir reprised his role. Kassir later stated "Nelvana created a kinder, gentler personality for the children's Cryptkeeper, and it feels a little uncharacteristic at times,". [4] In addition to the Cryptkeeper, EC Comics' mascots The Vaultkeeper and The Old Witch also made frequent appearances, often fighting with the Cryptkeeper for control of the show's hosting duties. The series lasted two seasons on ABC with a total of 26 episodes.

In 1999, the series was revived on CBS for an additional 13 episodes under the title New Tales from the Cryptkeeper.

Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House

A kids' game show called Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House was featured on CBS from 1996 to 1997. The Cryptkeeper (again voiced by John Kassir) was the announcer of the show (he would often break into the action with appropriate wisecracks), and contestants competed in physical challenges on a variety of elaborate haunted house sets at Universal Studios Florida. In addition to The Cryptkeeper, the series also showed off an original character named Digger the Skeleton (voiced by Danny Mann).

Radio series

In 2000, several Tales from the Crypt "radio shows" were recorded for Seeing Ear Theatre, an online subsidiary of The Sci-Fi Channel, and were offered free as streaming RealAudio files on their website, [5] as well as for sale on Audible.com. Although 13 episodes were planned (with forthcoming episodes listed as "TBA"), only eight stories were recorded. [6] Seven of the eight shows were released on CD in 2002 by Highbridge Audio [7] ("This Trick'll Kill You" was omitted from the CD set [6] ).

Two-Fisted Tales

In 1991, the Fox television network aired a pilot for Two-Fisted Tales, a spin-off based on the 1950s EC action comics. When Fox passed on the pilot, Cryptkeeper segments were put down onto the three stories ("Yellow", "Showdown", and "King of the Road"), and HBO ran them as Tales from the Crypt episodes.

Perversions of Science

After the original series ended, a spin-off called Perversions of Science premiered in June 1997 on HBO, this time being based more on sci-fi instead of horror. The series was unsuccessful and lasted for a short run, ending only a month after it had begun airing. This iteration of the franchise featured a stylized female robot host in place of The Cryptkeeper.

Notable guest stars

A variety of notable guests have starred in episodes of Tales from the Crypt. This includes Academy Award-winning actors and A-list celebrities. [8]

Some of the most famous people to have starred in episodes are listed below.



In 1991, Big Screen Records released a soundtrack album featuring assorted music from the series. [9] The album includes the theme music, suites from 11 episodes and an original song titled "Crypt Jam" performed by The Cryptkeeper (John Kassir). A music video for "Crypt Jam" was filmed and is available as an extra on the Region 1 Season 3 DVD. [10]

01Tales from the Crypt (Main Title) Danny Elfman 2:27
02Three's a Crowd Jan Hammer 3:50
03Cutting Cards James Horner 3:45
04Loved to Death Jimmy Webb 3:19
05Dead Wait David Mansfield 4:04
06Undertaking Palor Nicholas Pike 3:10
07Carrion Death Bruce Broughton 3:32
08Ventriloquist's Dummy Miles Goodman 3:32
09The Thing from the Grave David Newman 2:53
10The Man Who Was Death Ry Cooder 4:22
11Reluctant Vampire Cliff Eidelman 3:50
12Deadline Steve Bartek 3:32
13The Crypt Jam Chuckii Booker 4:30

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

In 1994, a Christmas album, Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, was released by The Right Stuff, a subsidiary of Capitol Records. Most of the songs are spoofs of holiday standards performed by The Cryptkeeper, such as "Juggle Bills" ( Jingle Bells ), "We Wish You'd Bury the Missus" ( We Wish You a Merry Christmas ) and "Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie" ( Deck the Halls ), with narration and a few original songs mixed in. The CD booklet includes a black and white reprint of the comic "And All Through the House".

01Intro to Album0:51
02Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie1:55
03Juggle Bills3:17
04We Wish You'd Bury the Missus2:20
05Moe Teitlebaum2:32
06A Christmas Card for the Cryptkeeper0:51
07Christmas Rap3:22
08Intro to Cryptkeeper's Family Christmas0:32
09Cryptkeeper's Family Christmas2:03
10'Twas the Fright Before Christmas3:55
11Twelve Days of Cryptmas3:42
12Intro to Revenge of the Cryptkeeper0:24
13Revenge of the Cryptkeeper2:18
14Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas2:21
15Should Old Cadavers Be Forgot3:38

Monsters of Metal

In 2000, Capitol Records released another album titled Tales from the Crypt: Monsters of Metal. [11] This album is a compilation of horror-themed songs from popular heavy metal bands with wraparound narration by the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir).

01The Cryptkeeper Intro #1 John Kassir 0:30
02 Heaven and Hell Black Sabbath 6:54
03Creepy Feelings Armored Saint 5:21
04Five Magics Megadeth 5:41
05The Cryptkeeper Intro #2John Kassir0:14
06Cemetery Gates (Demon Knight) Pantera 5:47
07Eyes of a Stranger Queensrÿche 4:40
08Hallucinating Apartment 26 3:40
09The Cryptkeeper Intro #3John Kassir0:35
10Dead Inside Arch Enemy 4:11
11Beyond the Realms of Death Judas Priest 6:53
12Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck Prong 4:12
13The Cryptkeeper Intro #4John Kassir0:16
14Don't Talk to Strangers Dio 4:52
15Bordello of Blood Anthrax 4:12
16The Bell Witch Mercyful Fate 4:34
17The Cryptkeeper Intro #5John Kassir0:21
18Wolverine Blues Entombed 2:10
19Hollow Ground The Haunted 4:10
20Beyond the Black Metal Church 6:22
21The Cryptkeeper EndingJohn Kassir0:46

Home media

Warner Home Video has released all seven seasons on DVD Region 1. The DVDs for the first three seasons feature all-new Cryptkeeper introductions and segments. No new segments were filmed for seasons 4–7. On June 6, 2017, all seven seasons were reissued in a box set entitled Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Series. A Region 2 version of the whole series was released by '84 Entertainment on June 4, 2010,

Until mid 2020, the series was also available through the streaming platform Vudu. [12]

SeasonEpisodesDiscsRelease dateExtras
1 62July 12, 2005
  • All New Introduction by the Cryptkeeper
  • Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television
  • Cryptkeeper's History of Season One
2 183October 25, 2005
  • Behind-the-Screams Shockumentary Feature
  • Fright and Sound: Bringing the Crypt Experience to Radio
3 143March 21, 2006
  • A Tall Tales Panel
  • A Tales from the Crypt Reunion: A Panel Discussion
  • Crypt Jam Music Video
4 143July 25, 2006
  • Commentary on 'What's Cookin
  • Stars of Season 4 Montage Hosted by the Cryptkeeper
5 133October 31, 2006Death of Some Salesmen: Virtual Comic Book
6 153July 24, 2007Whirlpool: Virtual Comic Book
7 133October 23, 2007Fatal Caper: Virtual Comic Book
Complete series box set9320June 6, 2017


Reruns aired on Fox from 1994 to 1995 under the name Primetime Tales From the Crypt; episodes also aired in 1994 in a late-night time slot. It aired late night on CBS in 1997–1998. It also aired on other channels, such as Syfy, Chiller, and Fearnet.

In the United Kingdom, the series aired Fridays on ITV. Sky1 Satellite and cable channel Horror Channel (then Zone Horror) aired the series in both late night and daytime slots. The daytime versions were billed as "cut"; however, they remained uncut.

Tales from the Crypt is not available on HBO streaming services HBO Go (discontinued), HBO Now, or HBO Max reportedly due to licensing issues. [13]


Tales from the Crypt won the following awards:


Cancelled reboots

In July 2011, it was announced that Gilbert Adler, who produced the original series, was working with Andrew Cosby to develop a new Tales from the Crypt series. It was said to be a continuous story, rather than an anthology, and would also omit The Cryptkeeper. The series was unsuccessfully shopped to several major networks. [14]

In January 2016, Entertainment Weekly reported that M. Night Shyamalan would helm a series reboot as part of TNT's new two-hour horror block. [15] The network ordered a 10-episode season that was slated for fall 2017. [16] The series was to keep the episodic anthology format, but without The Cryptkeeper. [17] In June 2017, it was announced that TNT would not move forward with the series due to legal rights issues concerning the rights for the characters from Tales from the Crypt Holdings. [18]

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  1. Willman, Chris (June 10, 1989). "'Crypt' Tales Subtle as a Sledgehammer". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  2. Barnes, Mike (2010-09-28). "Hollywood puppeteer Van Snowden dies". The Hollywood Reporter . Archived from the original on September 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
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  13. It’s not TV—and it’s not available on HBO Go: 27-plus HBO originals unavailable from the streaming service. The AV Club. 15 May 2013.
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