Tales from the Crypt: The Complete Sixth Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // $39.98 // July 24, 2007
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 12, 2007
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Series:

Tales From The Crypt had it all - a fantastic roster of directorial talent, great writers, some amazing casting choices, and of course, a wise cracking undead puppet host voiced by John Kassir to open and close each episode. Steeped in the rich tradition of William M. Gaines' horror and suspense comics from the fifties - Tales From The Crypt, The Vault Of Horror and Shock Suspense Stories respectively - the series, which lasted seven seasons on HBO, has remained a fan favorite from the time its first episode aired on June 10, 1989 until it went off the air on July 19, 1996. Thankfully, once again the undead host and his friends have found new life on DVD and thanks to Warner Brothers the complete seasons of the show are now being made available completely uncut though this fifth season sees a lot less in the way of supplements than we've seen on prior sets. Season Six isn't a good example of the best that the series had to offer but it's still definitely better than average material and some interesting guest stars and behind the camera talent add to the show's already considerable appeal.

Just like the notorious comic books that they were based on, the episodes almost always blended a twisted sense of black humor with the gore and shock scenes and twist endings that they became known and subsequently reviled by parents for. Critics would often blast the comics for being too intense or too depraved for the younger audiences that they were aimed at, despite the fact that there was very often an obvious moral to the story and that usually the stories were quite tongue in cheek. With the TV show the creative teams didn't have to worry about that so much. Since the series aired on HBO and not on a regular network, the show was free from the standard censorship issues inflicted on regular broadcast television and as such, the series was aimed primarily at adult viewers - just like it should have been.

The fifteen episodes that comprise the six season, all of which, once again, come with the full opening scene in which the camera pulls us into the crypt with Elfman's music playing overtop, are spread across the three discs in this set play out as follows:

Disc One:

Let The Punishment Fit The Crime: Things get funky for a scumbag lawyer named Geraldine (Catharine O'Hara) who is brought into court herself when it's found out that she has too many numbers on her license plate. The judge throws the book at her and eventually her lawyer is tossed out of court and in a sort of vicious circle maneuver, she finds herself taking his place only there's more to this court than meets the eye.

Only Skin Deep: When Bob goes to a fancy costume party he falls head over heels for Molly and the end up enjoying a night together. He tells her he'll keep it quiet but soon he's kissed and told. Molly tells him to keep away during the day but he's too curious and when he finds her wearing the mask that he thought was her costume he learns the hard way that there's an all together different reason that she wears it...

Whirlpool: Rolanda (Rita Rudner) is a down and out comic book illustrator who soon finds the world she's created blending with the world she inhabits when she literally becomes trapped in a metaphysical whirlpool where the same events repeat themselves. She tries changing the outcome but it doesn't stop the whirlpool from swirling around her. Mick Garris directs.

Operation Friendship: Nelson toils away at his computer job like a good little worker drone, but unfortunately he's pushed around by his co-workers and his boss takes all the credit for his success. Nelson's imaginary friend, Eddie, tries to get him to change all that but when Nelson falls for a pretty lady, Eddie starts to get jealous and his behavior becomes increasingly more bizarre.

Revenge Is The Nuts: Isaac Hayes stars as a cruel and bitter man who runs a home for blind people. None of the tenants like him as he treats them horribly but when a new resident, a pretty girl named Shelly, shows up he tells her if she sleeps with him he'll ease up on everyone. When the other patients find out what's going on, they decide to pay him back.

Disc Two:

The Bribe: Zeller (Terry O'Quinn) is a fire marshal who wants to shut down a seedy strip club where his daughter, Hailey, currently works as a dancer. He pays a professional arsonist to torch the place but finds out after the fact that his daughter was working that night - or so he thinks, in reality she was out with plans of her own. Benecio Del Toro also appears in this episode.

The Pit: Two professional fighters (one of whom is Mark Dacascos from Brotherhood Of The Wolf are set to square off but they really have no quarrel with one another, it's their respective wives who don't get along. With some help from a promoter named Wink (Wayne Newton) they put the ladies in the ring instead, though neither one of them could have called the outcome of this fight...

The Assassin: Janet's husband used to be an assassin for the C.I.A. years back and she thought all of that was behind them until a group of covert ops types bust into the family home looking for him. Looks like Janet and her family are in some seriously hot water until she pulls an ace out of her sleeve. Corey Feldman shows up in this one as does William Sadler.

Staired In Horror: Clyde (D. B. Sweeney) is an escaped convict who uses the home of an old woman as his hide out from the law. When he explores one night he finds a beautiful woman in the bedroom - turns out it's the old lady who owns the place, she's been cursed and has to stay upstairs forever if she wants to retain her youth. She tells him that the same thing will happen to him if he comes up the stairs but soon the cops show up and he has nowhere else to hide. R. Lee Ermey plays the sheriff.

In The Groove: Gary Grover (Miguel Ferrer) is a talk radio host who works for his sister. He gets burned on day when she hires someone whose forte is dirty talk, more or less pushing Gary to the sidelines. When he talks to Valerie about what to do, she suggests he get back but what Gary doesn't know is that someone behind the scenes is pulling his strings.

Disc Three:

Surprise Party: When Ray knocks off his old man so that he can inherit the old burned down home, he shows up at his new digs and finds that there's a surprise party being held in his honor. Things go great until the boyfriend of a stripper gets jealous over the attention she's paying to Ray and Ray has to take matters into his own hands. Once he realizes what he's done, he figures he'd better hide the evidence, and it looks like a handy fire would be the best way. What Ray doesn't realize is the true history of the house and how it relates back to him. Bette Ford guest stars!

Doctor Of Horror: Richard (Hank Azaria) and Charlie (Travis Tritt) work the night shift as security guards at the local morgue. A strange doctor named Orloff offers the men five hundred dollars each if they'll let him in after hours to 'capture the souls' of the recently deceased. Andrews (Ben Stein), their boss, finds out what they've been up to and Richards kills him to keep him quiet but Charlie gets in the way and also kicks the bucket. Orloff proves he's not all talk and captures Charlie's soul, and Charlie's soul is not at all pleased with this recent turn of events.

Comes The Dawn: A pair of no good poachers (Michael Ironside and Bruce Payne) are after bear in the wilds of Alaska where they hook up with a strange woman who takes them to an old dorm. Once they've used her, they decide to kill her off but they're not fast enough - turns out they've been had and that the building is full of hibernating vampires!

99.44% Pure Horror: Cristi is a gloomy, pessimistic artist who feels she's getting the shaft from her husband (Bruce Davison) who runs a massive soap company when he tells her that he's going to have to lay her off. He soon finds out he's made a horrible mistake for Hell truly hath no fury like a woman scorned.

You, Murderer!: Lou Spinelli (a computerized Humphrey Bogart voiced by Robert Sacchi!) is a former small time hood who wants to go legit. He hires a plastic surgeon named Oscar (John Lithgow) to turn him into a Bogie look-a-like. Years later his wife Betty (Isabella Rossellini) learns his secret and Oscar tells Lou to kill her off to keep her quiet for good. What Lou doesn't know is that Oscar and Betty are in cahoots. What Oscar and Betty don't know is that Lou had a secret lover on the side, Erica (Sherilyn Fenn), who has plans of her own.

The DVD

Video:

Season Six looks a little better than the four seasons that came before it, but the transfers are still far from flawless. The episodes are presented in their original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio - that's the format they were composed for and the compositions look dead on. There is still some murkiness in a couple of episodes and fine detail could have been sharper but the color reproduction looks good and the skin tones look lifelike and natural (at least when they're supposed to). Edge enhancement and mpeg compression artifacts are kept to a minimum while aliasing appears only occasionally. Tales From The Crypt doesn't look perfect on DVD but it does look better here than the earlier episodes contained in the first few seasons.

Sound:

Each and every episode on this set is presented in a nice English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix with optional subtitles available in English, French and Spanish. The sound on these episodes isn't exactly home theater demo material but it does the trick on this set and there aren't any noticeable problems with the audio. Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion. Bass levels are fairly strong and the sound effects and background music is well balanced to ensure that it doesn't overpower the performers or their dialogue.

Extras:

Here's where this season doesn't stack up against three or four releases. We get some fun animated menus and episode selection options for each disc as well as chapter stops for each episode, but aside from that the only other extra is a virtual comic book reprint of the Whirlpool comic that the episode was based on. This plays out as a ten-minute slideshow and John Karris handles the narration in character as the Crypt-Keeper, which makes it fun, but unfortunately there are no interviews or retrospective documentaries here, nor are there any commentary tracks.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, Tales From The Crypt - The Complete Sixth Season isn't quite as impressive as the seasons that came before it but even lesser Tales From The Crypt is still better than most genre programming and the few truly stand out episodes in this set make it worth owning despite the lack of extras. Recommended!



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