Tales from the Crypt - beyond comics

“Gutter of Horror” is a Brazilian column from Dinamo Studio website about horror comics.

This is a translated version of the articles.

In Television

The cable channel HBO brought the comics to life in 1989 with a TV adaptation. Tales From the Crypt was an anthology in the same format as TV shows like Twilight Zone and Tales from the Dark Side, where each episode was a different and independent story with beginning, middle and end. All stories had an introduction by a Crypt-keeper that was visually very different from his comic book counterpart. While in E.C. titles the Crypt-keeper were a regular human being, in the TV series he was sort of a decrepit corpse – a visual that would become strongly associated with Tales from the Crypt after that.

The TV series had a stellar cast of actors and celebrities as main characters and cameos, such as Dan Aykroyd, Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Daniel Craig, Tim Curry, Timothy Dalton, Roger Daltrey, Benicio del Toro, Kirk Douglas and his son, Eric Douglas, Brad Dourif, Whoopi Goldberg, Bobcat Goldthwait, Teri Hatcher, Marg Helgenberger, Mariel Hemingway, Lance Henriksen, Bob Hoskins, Margot Kidder, John Lithgow, Andrew McCarthy, Dylan McDermott, Malcolm McDowell, Costas Mandylor, Ewan McGregor, Meat Loaf, Demi Moore, Donald O’Connor, Joe Pantoliano, Bill Paxton, Bruce Payne, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt, Iggy Pop, Christopher Reeve, Natasha Richardson, Mimi Rogers, Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Slash, John Stamos, Jeffrey Tambor, Lea Thompson, David Warner, Steven Weber, Adam West and Treat Williams – just to name a few. Some actors even venture into directing, like Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Notable director included Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Walter Hill, Tom Holland, Tobe Hooper, Mary Lambert, Peter Medakand and Russell Mulcahy. The show lasted 7 seasons from 1989 through 1996.

The live action TV series was a huge success and encourage others to try. In the early 1990s, kaBOOM! Entertainment along with Warner TV created an animated series called “Tales from the Cryptkeeper”. The format was similar to the live action series, but with a more kid-friendly approach. The Cryptkeeper's visuals were more in line with the live action TV show too. The animated series lasted three season between 1993 and 1997 and the opening of the first season included cameos from the Vault-keeper and the Old Witch, hosts from Tales from The Crypt sister titles in the comics.

With the end of the live action TV show, a sort of spin-off was created to take its place. Called “Perversions of Science”, the show wasn’t based on any E.C. Comics property and focused on science fiction. The host(ess) of the show was Chrome, a female android. Without the charm of its predecessor, Perversions of science only lasted only 10 episodes.

In 2016, a new version of the live action TV series was announced, produced by M. Night Shyamalan for TNT. Unfortunately, in 2017, the TV show was killed before even go to air due to licensing issues.

In film

Well before the american TV series, the British production company Amicus made a film adaptation of Tales from the Crypt. In the movie, five strangers go with a tourist group to view old catacombs. Separated from the main group, the strangers find themselves in a room with the mysterious Crypt Keeper who details how each of them may die. In this version, the Crypt-keeper is a regular human, just like in the comics. Three of the five stories adapted for the film (All Through the House, Blind Alleys and Wish You Were Here) were later adapted in some way by the TV show as well.

After the TV show ended, the producers decided that it was time to get Tales from the Crypt to theaters. The original idea was to make a trilogy where each film would be standalone, but it would have a connection through an artifact that would be seen in all three movies. It would begin with Demon Knight, following by Dead Easy (a zombie flick that was actually promoted in the end of Demon Knight) and Body Count (an original story). This idea didn’t pan out and Demon Knight was the first and only of these three ideas that saw the light of day. In the story, a demonic being chases Brayker, a mysterious man who possess an ancient amulet capable powerful enough to stop the forces of evil from destroying mankind.

Despite the original plan being scrapped, the success of demon Knight encourage producers to do another story: Bordello of Blood. But unlike the previous film, Bordello of Blood were more of a horror comedy. In the story, a private investigator is hired by a woman to investigate the disappearance of her brother. The investigation leads to a bordello run by Lilith,where all prostitutes are vampires. Although it’s not a direct sequel to Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood did feature the amulet from that film.


In 2002, a third movie was release, Ritual, that tells the story of a doctor fired following the death of a pacient. She travels to Jamaica where she and another pacient become target of a Voodoo cult. This movie is not as known as the previous ones, since it was not released in United States, only internationally. Ritual is kind of a remake of filme I Walked with a Zombie (1943), considered the first film about zombies.

Before wrapping this article, a litte trivia: The Frighteners, directed by Peter Jackson, was supposed to be a film within the Tales from the Crypt franchise, but Robert Zemeckis (producer of the movies) read the script and thought the story deserved to be its own thing.

Rafael Algures is a Bachelor of Philosophy specialized in Neurosciences of Language. He is also a copywriter, content and science writer, and a comic book creator. His latest work, “Gutter of Horror: Transition”, a short horror comic about Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence are available at Amazon – digital and paperback.

Further reading: Tales from the Crypt
                               The Rise of E.C. Comics
                               The Peak of E.C.Comics
                               The Fall of E.C.Comics