Warner Bros. // 1996 // 337 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 7th, 2007
The final season of HBO's popular horror anthology series goes out with a groan.
The cackling Cryptkeeper returns for his final curtain call with the seventh season of Tales from the Crypt, a collection of 13 stand-alone tales of terror and horror and terrorizing horror.
Each story supposedly inspired by comic magazines published by William M. Gaines, this season offers more of what you expect from the series: narrative twists, surprise endings, vampires, ghouls, moderate nudity and...cartoon pigs?
Three discs worth of episodes:
"A Slight Case of Murder"
"Horror in the Night"
"Report from the Grave"
"Ear Today...Gone Tomorrow"
"The Third Pig"
Yeah, this series was limping across the finish line by the time the bizarre 13th episode wrapped up.
Besides the weakness of the stories -- and they're the most disappointing of the show's run in my opinion -- this season shows signs of its twilight in two areas: 1) a noticeable lack of the recognizable names both in front and in back of the camera and 2) the apparent outsourcing of all the work to the United Kingdom.
First, the tales themselves. There are a few highlights -- "Fatal Caper," the opener, sports the trademark Tales dark humor and bizarre plot twist, "Cold War" makes up for a goofy premise with an energetic performance from Ewan McGregor and some nasty make-up effects, and "Horror in the Night" earns points for its over-the-top gore work. And there are some major flops -- "Last Respects" takes the classic wish-granting monkey paw story and manages to make it lame, "The Kidnapper" is just pointless, and the animated finale, "The Third Pig," is unfunny and juvenile. The remainder of the tales are mediocre or too weird or both.
Bob Hoskins, who stars in and directs "Fatal Caper," is easily the most at-the-time familiar face, though young turns by then-unknowns Ewan McGregor and Daniel Craig allows Warner Brothers to hype their current fame on the box art. As for star directors, you got Hoskins and Brian Helgeland writing and directing "A Slight Case of Murder." The big five -- Richard Donner, David Giler, Walter Hill, Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis -- continue to produce, though their creative input appears to be limited this go-round.
And not that I have anything against our brothers and sisters across the pond, but it's obvious the Tales bean-counters opted to outsource Season 7 to England. This season is all about the Brits for some reason (perhaps because of budget limitations?) and they give it their best, but are ultimately hamstrung by uninteresting storytelling.
The full frame transfers are soft, looking their age and unimpressive, supplemented by a no-frills 2.0 stereo track. There's one extra on this set, the "Fatal Caper" virtual comic book.
I'm a big fan of this series, but its golden years are far behind it.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 337 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Virtual Comic Book