Tales From The Crypt is a show that is near and dear to my heart. Though I've admittedly only read a few of the comics over the years, I have many fond memories of watching the show on HBO as a kid, as many of you also probably do. Come to think of it, the Cryptkeeper is likely at least somewhat responsible for ushering me into a lifelong love of the horror genre. So thanks for that, you dead fuck.
Though I tend to sprinkle a few random episodes into my life every couple months, I've always wanted to go back and revisit every single episode of the show, in chronological order, which is something I've decided to finally begin chipping away at. Of course, being a blogger, I've also decided to track my progress here on the blog, by providing little quickie thoughts on each episode as I watch them. I wasn't sure if I should do it that way or just do whole season reviews within one post, but I asked you folks over on Facebook which way you'd like to see me go about this and the large majority of you said to go the single episode route, which was all I needed to hear to make up my mind on that matter. I figure that'll be a fun way to really delve into each episode, and hopefully kick up some discussion about each one as we go along here.
So then. We begin at the beginning, with the very first episode of Tales From The Crypt!
THE MAN WHO WAS DEATH
ORIGINAL AIR DATE : JUNE 10TH, 1989
The first of three Tales episodes directed by Walter Hill, best known for directing The Warriors and producing the Alien films, tells the tale of Niles Talbot, a death row executioner who enjoys killing bad guys a bit too much. When the death penalty is abolished, thereby putting him out of work, Talbot continues doing his job as he sees fit. Only this time, the law is not on his side. It's only legal when it's legal, folks!
The real highlight of this episode is William Sadler, who plays the titular role of the man who quite literally is death. As the executioner turned electrocutioner, Sadler is captivating to watch, and within a short 20 or so minutes manages to bring to life an incredibly memorable character, one of the most memorable of the entire series. I've always found Sadler to be one of those actors who has never really gotten the respect he deserves. Though he's been in some pretty big time movies, like Shawshank Redemption and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (he was the Grim Reaper!), Sadler has always kinda remained on the fringes of mainstream acting notoriety, which is a real bummer. Anyways. The whole episode is basically on his shoulders and his shoulders only, and it's largely because of him that it's so damn enjoyable to watch.
Now the other awesome thing about the episode is that it's filmed almost documentary style, with Sadler narrating and at several times throughout, looking directly at and speaking directly to us, the audience. This unique touch creates a nice little atmosphere for the episode, where it almost feels like we're riding along with a vigilante crime fighter, as he carries out his dirty deeds. Pretty cool and definitely an interesting decision from Hill & Robert Reneau, who wrote the script together. Their script all around is very solid, with some nice commentary in there about the death penalty and American hunger for death and violence, viewpoints which are still very relevant over 20 years after the episode was written.
Packed with oodles of dark humor, plenty of nudity, a whole lot of murder and a nice little twist at the end, The Man Who Was Death is quite frankly the personification of everything Tales From The Crypt would go on to become known and loved for, the absolute perfect way to kick off the series with a serious bang. Or should I say, JOLT!
< Insert Cryptkeeper laugh here >