I believe it was around Christmas time last year, perhaps in January even, I got my hands on DVD sets of complete seasons of the television show, Tales From the Crypt. I remember seeing episodes I never knew existed and enjoying them for the very first time. One of these great tales was “And All Through the House” about an escaped maniac who was running around in a Santa Claus outfit. Interestingly enough, this same story, taken from the pages of the original EC comics run of The Vault of Horror, also happened to be adapted for film once before. Upon learning of this, I frantically searched for a Blu-ray copy of the original 1972 Tales film to add to my ever-growing collection. Sadly, I never found a copy that was close enough to my desired price range, so my search came to a halt. This is where the wonderful people from Scream! Factory step in. As one of their newest double feature releases, SF has put together a package consisting of 1973’s Vault of Horror and Freddie Francis’ 1972 anthology original film, Tales From the Crypt.
If you are familiar with anthology films, you already know the formula to expect here. Tales From the Crypt consists of five segments, all presenting rather different material. “And All Through the House” is a classic slasher story, “Reflection of Death” and “Poetic Justice” deal with zombies in one way or another, “Wish You Were Here” delves into the supernatural realm, and “Blind Alleys” is a unique tale of revenge. Each short is held together by The Crypt Keeper ‘warning’ his guests of their unavoidable fates, as they sit and listen in terror. With the Crypt Keeper actually being played by a human actor, in this case Ralph Richardson, and not the creepily lovable ‘puppet’ we’ve grown accustomed to with the television series, there is a much more serious tone to this film adaptation.
Not being familiar with the original source material, I’m unaware if these five narratives are the best of the olden comics. I do know, however, that they all seem to lend themselves very well to the small screen. Each story is entertaining and their varying lengths was a nice way to throw some of the predictability out of the window. Instead of expecting the end of each story at around the 16 minute mark, each short had their own distinct runtime, breaking away from what seems to be the trend of most anthology films today.
The acting was great throughout the entire film, consisting of amazing performances by the likes of Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, and Patrick Magee. Aside from the second and third installments both having to do with zombie-like resurrections, I highly appreciate the variety when it comes to the material presented by Francis. He could have easily chosen five slashers, five supernatural anecdotes, so on and so forth, but instead each one dealt with their own sub-genre. My favorite of the bunch is most certainly the very last segment. An amazingly entertaining tale of revenge, “Blind Alleys” serves as an early day inspiration for some of the more graphic flicks of the modern era, most notably the Saw franchise.
With each release, I am quickly becoming convinced that the folks at Shout! Factory do the best restoration work around. Each film they release looks and sounds beautiful and Tales From the Crypt is no exception. Coming to Blu-ray double feature on December 2, be sure to pre-order your copy today!
I give this film 4 tales of demise out of 5.