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Case Number 08992

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Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Third Season

Warner Bros. // 1989 // 368 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // April 5th, 2006

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All Rise...

These heebie-jeebie DVDs made Judge Cynthia Boris slip a disc.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Tales From The Crypt: The Complete First Season (published July 27th, 2005), Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 25th, 2006), Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Fifth Season (published December 6th, 2006), Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Sixth Season (published July 25th, 2007), Tales From The Crypt: The Complete Seventh Season (published November 7th, 2007), and Tales From the Crypt / Vault of Horror (Blu-ray) (published December 12th, 2014) are also available.

The Charge

"Women. You can't live with them, but you can't cut them up into tiny pieces and tell the neighbors she's in Palm Springs, can you?"

Opening Statement

Greetings ghouls and boys and welcome to another review here at DVD Vermin. Willard, Eight Legged Freaks, Killer Shrews—if it crawls and creeps across a movie screen you'll find it here. And speaking of creeps, today we have a special treat! A visit from our old creepy friend, The Crypt Keeper! Another review site said he was rotten so he's here today to set the facts straight. The truth is not only is he rotten now, but he's been rotting for years! So here he is, direct from a "dead" engagement in Hollyweird, it's my dubious pleasure to present Tales from the Crypt—The Complete Third Season.

Facts of the Case

It was only supposed to be thirteen episodes, a lark of a show to pay homage to the classic EC Comic of the same name. It turned into seven seasons, several movies, and a showcase for some of the biggest names in Hollywood. It's Tales From the Crypt, the quirkiest anthology series ever to hit the airwaves.

Each week, your old pal The Crypt Keeper (voiced by John Kassir) introduces a tale of murder and mayhem in his own freakishly pun-ridden way. (This is my caddy Juan. He teed me off so I shot him. Now I have a hole in Juan!) The stories themselves were an unusual mix of comedy and horror, sex and violence—and because the show was made for HBO, there were almost no holds barred. May not sound like much, but add in guest stars like Demi Moore (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator) working with directors such as William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and producers such as Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon)…you've got one hell of a TV series.

On this DVD set you get:

Disc One:
• "Loved to Death"—A tale of obsession starring Andrew McCarthy and Mariel Hemingway.
• "Carrion Death"—Death in the desert with Kyle MacLachlan.
• "The Trap"—It's never as simple as it seems, directed by Michael J. Fox.
• "Abra Cadaver—Rival doctors get a bit carried away.
• "Top Billing"—An all-star cast of Louise Fletcher, Sandra Bernhard, Jon Lovitz and John Astin prove that billing is everything.
• "Dead Wait "- Horror master Tobe Hooper directs Whoopi Goldberg in this voodoo tale.

Disc Two:
• "The Reluctant Vampire"—Malcolm McDowell stars in this tale of a vampire who is just trying to make a living.
• "Easel Kill Ya"—Portraits in death, a specialty.
• "Undertaking Pallor"—John Glover of Smallville is an undertaker with a secret.
• "Mourin' Mess"—All new meaning to the term Ghostwriter.
• "Split Second"—Horror writer Richard Christian Matheson penned this tale of lumberjack revenge.
• "Deadline"—Marg Helgenberger of C.S.I. fills out this story of a reporter who may have to make his own news.

Disc Three:
• "Spoiled"—Anthony LaPaglia of Without a Trace is a cable repair man who's an expert in connecting the male and female ends.
• "Yellow"—Movie legend Robert Zemeckis directs Kirk Douglas and Dan Aykroyd in this story about a man determined to prove that his soldier son wasn't yellow.

The Evidence

Even though it has a decidedly lowbrow bent, Tales From the Crypt sports an impressive pedigree, with the likes of Richard Donner, Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, and Danny Elfman in the credits. Even more amazing is the list of guest stars that have visited the crypt over its seven-year run. This third season isn't as jam packed with big box office names, but you will find the stars of TV's most popular programs such as C.S.I. and Without a Trace. Having said all that, don't get the wrong impression about what you'll be seeing when you spin these three discs. There's great story telling and high production values, to be sure, but there's also a heavy dose of sex and violence. Remember, this series was originally produced for HBO and as such, didn't have to concern itself with those nasty old censors of the FCC. There's nudity (not a lot), language, and quite a bit of gore—but still much less than you'll find in your average teen slasher flick.

Tales From the Crypt straddles that barbed wire fence between horror and parody. The stories are intentionally over acted. But stay tuned, because there's usually a sweet twist before long. The colors and general look of the show runs closer to its comic book cousin than to other TV anthology shows such as The Outer Limits. And when it comes to rim shot humor, nobody does it like the Crypt Keeper—an animatronic puppet that has become a "living being" in the same way as Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

The packaging on this DVD set matches the tone of the show. The slipcase resembles a comic book cover and all of the included art is intentionally B-movie. However, fans who own the first two editions of the series might be disappointed to find that they shifted from digipack to slipcase. Now the three seasons don't match in height when shelved together!

I was most impressed with the navigation screen which includes two fairly lengthy visits with The Crypt Keeper that, as far as I could tell, were created for the DVD. Wonderful Danny Elfman music is made all the better with Dolby Digital Surround sound, and the comic book visuals just pop off the screen.

The extras are a bit of jumbled mess—terribly cool for true comic book geeks but less likely to impress the masses. The panel discussion that is featured was filmed at the San Diego Comic Con, so if you were in attendance that year you may find yourself on this DVD. But what's truly weird (and not in a loveable Crypty way) is that both of the featurettes are made up of the same panel footage. One is the straight panel discussion (a row of guys sitting behind a table answering questions). The other is the same panel discussion cut together with visual illustrations of whatever is being discussed. I liked the enhanced version and didn't see a need for the un-enhanced one. Apparently there are some difference between the two, but honestly, I didn't even bother once I realized I was watching a rerun and not having some overblown deja vu.

Closing Statement

It's creepy and it's campy. It's spook-tacular storytelling with a "so bad it's good" B-movie twist. And only from The Crypt Keeper would people put up with this sort of pun-ishment, but somehow that madman makes it all work. So check out Tales from the Crypt—The Complete Third Season. We're dying to know what you think of this little monster mash-terpiece.

The Verdict

This court finds Tales from the Crypt—The Complete Third Season guilty of multiple homicide. It would sentence The Crypt Keeper to death, but that would be a bit redundant, wouldn't you say? (Insert Crypt Keeper laugh here.)

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 368 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Horror
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "A Tall Tales Panel" -- series creators and admirers discuss the show in a Crypt seminar
• "A Tales From the Crypt Reunion: A Panel Discussion
• "Crypt Jam" music video

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