INTRODUCTION: Tales from the Crypt is a very old comic, but a classic comic line. Back in the day, these EC rated comics were said to warp the mind of the baby boomer kids’ reading such filth. I’ve read reprints and it was fun. In 1989, HBO brought a show to the television, with John Kassier voicing the aptly name Cryptkeeper. It’s was a hit and spawned two flicks and a Saturday morning cartoon show in the 90’s. Unbeknownst to me back then, in 1982, Stephen King and George Romero created a similar thing, called Creepshow. It was inspired by those old comics. I didn’t know Creepshow existed until I was in my early 20’s. Weird, given I had seen a massive amount of 80’s and 90’s horror. I still haven’t seen the two flicks, but I did enjoy Tales from the Crypt and the idea of an inspired by version intrigued me enough to give this series a go.
This is a very weak start, the acting is phoned in, and even Tobin Bell isn’t at his best. He is more reminiscent of his 90’s TV acting, he just doesn’t seem like he wants to be here and these things are beneath him. I can’t blame the guy, feature films pay better and you become more notable. That is a necessity to becoming a serious actor in this world. Don’t forget, after the success of the Saw flicks, it’s not like he needs the work. His legacy is set for life as well. Roles like this could only diminish it. My interjected and unsolicited opinion on Tobin Bell’s acting career aside, it is very weak. None of the characters are very well developed, it is based on a Stephen King short story which only makes this worse, because it could have been so much more. The pacing of the story is all wrong and the ending feels unresolved, which is a running theme in this series.
The second part of this one is stronger than the first outing. The young girl acts circles around the adults and the character is wicked smart. Way smarter than your average 8 year old, figuring things out quite quickly. Sadly, the story is underdeveloped and feels 100% unresolved. The conclusion was weak and lacks what was needed to make us feel like there was something at stake. This isn’t a good start to this series.
Ok, this one sounds interesting, even though it is a rip off or homage to Rob Zombie’s trailer in Grindhouse. The characters are weakly developed, the plot as well. Interesting, albeit cheap FX and over all, not as good as it could be. Still, it improves over the first episode.
Episode two seems similarly reminiscent to the old monkey paw story, which you see foreshadowed throughout the series in the ads on the comic breaks. This one is meta as all hell and I found myself enjoying it, but still, I wanted more to the story and the obvious and cliché ending was shit. This should have been developed more and given the 44 minutes of the show. It would have been worth it.
This one is a very cool, but predictable concept. I really liked it, but again, it falls victim to too short of a time frame to develop the story more and give us sympathy for the characters. Obvious ending became obvious by the muffin scene and well, it did satisfy my appetite. For those of you that hate “forced” diversity, you’ll probably trigger over not just a black dude hanging out with white people, but the fact he is Satan. Your screams of “but muh forced diversity” will be worth listening to when you also trigger over the second part.
This is one cool fucking concept, because not a lot of American produced horror is inspired by the 1001 Arabian nights. If you’re unfamiliar with Arabic folklore, then you probably would not appreciate this one as much, but it is nice to see someone actually read these short stories and kept in line with its tone. Very cool! Still though, weak developed of the stories is plaguing this series, along with characters that need more development.
The first story is meh and the second story is even worse. See the above for the same exact criticisms. Not worth extrapolating on.
This episode should have been longer and Bruce Davidson is the strongest actor in this whole season and worthwhile, it is too bad his young co-star looks so much worse in comparison. The story is too short, but still a very interesting take on the Monkey’s Paw story and well worth watching.
The second “story” if you can call it that is cool concept, but feels like a deleted scene from a movie. Most of the backstory has to be told via exposition and it just isn’t worth it. They really phoned it in here and it is a worthless time to have paid David Arquette the money to even bother, when he could have been in something much better.
The first story could have been a movie and would have been great social commentary on people and their desire to talk the easy way out. Sadly, it wasn’t, but despite the misgivings of this episode, it was fun.
They end the season with a story based on a Joe Hill short. This was a very cool play on the old lochness monster myths, dipped with a little too much daddy issue subtext. One has to wonder if this wasn’t about Stephen King’s time as a blow junkie, figuratively chasing after monsters during this time period, as opposed to spending time with his children and in many in interview, King as mentioned his own version of various subtext. This probably has the best looking effect, short of The Finger, but still was mediocre, given the lack of development of story, characters and terrible pacing.
This series has a running pattern of flaws, from underdeveloped characters to terrible pacing and lack of story or suspense build. It’s on Shudder, so I am willing to deal with the FX not being the best, especially because some of them are meant to be homages to past films. The episode with the Scarecrow comes to mind as it uses 80s stop motion as an homage to The Evil Dead. There are various other Easter eggs to movies and horror tv shows for Boomers, Gen X and Millennial and those are appreciated, but I need more than Easter eggs to get me to commit to this series for another season. I mean, some of the comic breaks are clearly inspired by the old 90’s Tales from the Crypt. All Hallow’s Eve brings up 70’s Dungeons and Dragons, but uses modern miniatures, which is weird and out of place. If season two can fix the plaguing flaws of season one, this might be a real game changer, but as of right now, my plans are to skip this, it isn’t really worth the time.
2 ½ out of 5.