Tales from the Crypt
Based on the cult classic comic book series put out by EC Comics in the 1950’s, Tales offered solid stories, Hollywood stars, and yes, even gore. (Unlike some other series, I gotta cut them some slack when it comes to the gore. If you ever read the original comic books you know they were staying true to the original material). Broadcasted by HBO, this series was able to go far beyond what had previously been seen on television horror programs. Of course, the syndicated versions are slashed to ribbons. (pun intended) With an animatronic host with a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard, this series quickly became a cult classic of its own. It spun off two movies and an animated series on broadcast television. (See below.) Some of the better episodes include...

03 Dig That Cat...He’s Real Gone - A man gets the gift of nine lives. Waste not, want not. A perfect example of EC Comics storytelling.

07 Dead Right - Demi Moore plays a woman who gets some good advice from a fortune teller. Too bad she’s a gold digging bitch who doesn’t realize some predictions are more accurate than others.

18 Fitting Punishment - Moses Gunn plays the mortician you know is going to get what he deserves. Take this as a lesson...cutting corners in business now may mean more cutting later.

28 Abra Cadaver - It’s one thing to play a trick on your brother. It’s another when you’re both doctors and the dirty trick causes him to lose a promising career. Ah well, we outgrow these things, right?...right?

29 Top Billing - Jon Lovitz plays an actor who’s low on looks and high in talent. Bruce Boxleitner is his friend who’s exactly the opposite. Guess who gets the part of Hamlet in an off, off, off Broadway production? John Astin is hilarious as the eccentrically confused director.

[NOTE: 34 Mourning’ Mess - Not one of the best episodes. I mention it because I think this is the only one where they departed greatly from the source material. I don’t think EC Comics would have made such a glaring error in the final scene. Do you know what I’m talking about? Sorry, no spoilers.]

38 Yellow - A general sentences his son to die by firing squad. Will family come before honor? Kurt Douglas and his son Eric star.

43 Beauty Rest - The fabulous Mimi Rogers plays a model who tries to win a beauty pageant. But the fix is in. So she fixes the fixer. Buck Henry has a nice part as the master of ceremonies and gives a smile raising final speech.

45 The New Arrival - David Warner plays a child psychologist that meets the ultimate ‘problem child’. Zelda Rubenstein is fantastic as the mother.

Death of Some Salemen - Tim Curry plays Pa, Ma, and daughter in this excellent tale about a crooked traveling salesmen played by Ed Begley Jr.. I’m not sure whether to give Curry a bravo or brava.

74 Staired in Horror - A man convinces an old woman to hide him from the law. A young woman in the same house catches his fancy. Guess which one he falls in love with?

78 Comes the Dawn - Two hunters look to a local woman to help them illegally kill bears. She helps them all right. But it’s not the bears that get the killing. I don’t know how, but you really feel sorry for Vivian Wu’s character in this story. Very well done even though the ending is pretty obvious.

80 You, Murderer - Humphrey Bogart back from the grave? You bet thanks to computer ingenuity. Alfred Hitchcock also makes an appearance. (Oh, and yes, the pun was intended.)

Demon Knight - The first Tales from the Darkside movie was pretty good and did well at the box office. Unfortunately, the second, Bordello of Blood, was less than satisfactory.

Tales from the Cryptkeeper (animated)
I only ever saw one episode of this Saturday morning cartoon show and it was pretty good. Had a great deal more shadow and atmosphere than one might expect.

Perversions of Science
This was to be the science fiction version of Tales from the Crypt. Just like Tales, these stories were based on ones published in EC comics. Or maybe I should say loosely based. It didn’t do even half as well as it could probably because it never really took itself seriously. One redeeming factor was the shows host. A completely computer generated woman who teased the audience with her sexy voice and chrome finish.