Tales from the Crypt is one of the best horror anthology series of all time. Even though it’s only been two decades since it ended, it has stood the test of time and ranks right up there with The Twilight Zone. Nearly every episode was based on one of the original EC comics, expanded to a half hour format. Being on HBO allowed the series to go dark places that had been previously unexplored by horror television. Yet at the same time it never lost its sense of humor.
It was the jet-black element of comedy, I think, that helped Tales from the Crypt stand out. Like The Twilight Zone, everyone has their favorite episodes. Some are so strong, in fact, that they could probably have sustained their own feature film. Of course, the structure is everything in a Tales from the Crypt episode, and most of these episodes used it well. But it’s fun to think about nonetheless.
These are stories that had an excellent premise. It’s praising the episode to suggest it could have been expanded to a movie, not condemning it. With that in mind, here are six stories spun by the Crypt Keepr that could have made intriguing features.
If one of these episodes were to be expanded into a film, why not go all out with the Crypt Keeper’s origin? This is such a screwed up love story that it would make for a great indie horror comedy. A deformed, mistreated freak is in love with a tcenturies-old mummy. For most of the episode, the mummy is dormant. We’re not even sure if it has an actual curse. This aspect would be great to play up in a movie, keeping the audience guessing as to whether or not the freak is smitten with a living mummy or a dried-out corpse.
It’s been adapted twice already, in the original Tales from the Crypt movie and in the show’s first episode, but that’s because it’s a masterful story. Both versions leave audiences wanting so much more. A great, feature-length home invasion with a deranged Santa Claus attacking a woman who can’t go to the police because she’s just murdered her husband. It could work as its own film, it really could. Of course, it’s impossible to beat the director/cinematographer team of Robert Zemeckis and Dean Cundey.
This one wouldn’t even require much of any kind of budget. An isolated feature about two men handcuffed together–one a criminal, the other a cop—in the middle of the desert while a patient vulture closes in on them. Think Open Water or Frozen. Even Saw. When one of them dies, the story becomes painful to watch, as now it’s one man forced to drag a corpse across the desert. Despite the minimalistic style, it really lends itself to being explored in a feature-length format. It still feels like there’s uncharted territory in this one.
The season two finale “The Secret” felt rushed in some respects, but still shines in its weird, shameless campiness. It feels like a Goosebumps episode that isn’t even necessarily written for grownups, but just given a grownup rating. It’s about a young orphan sent to live with a couple of wealthy vampires who are sweetening him up so they can suck him dry. But the twist on this Hansel and Gretel tale is that the boy is a werewolf. It would be so great to see this padded out and really explore the troubles of a werewolf living under a vampire’s roof.
Scarecrows are creepy. There aren’t enough of them in horror and the one in this Tales from the Crypt episode was one of the creepiest ever. A young Patricia Arquette is forced to live in servitude at a farm house. She believes the scarecrow in the field is her secret lover and that he is going to take her away from this horrible life. The big twist at the end only makes it that much more unsettling. But there are so many uncomfortable layers to the story that are fascinating.
One of the best episodes of the show, it also gets credit for being the most self-referential. It’s about an artist for the Tales from the Crypt comic who finds out that the monsters he’s drawing are actually coming to life. There’s so much to mine there that even as a kid I wished it was a whole movie. The Creepshow-esque ending, feeding the artist’s wife to a monstrous version of herself, there’s something kind of brilliant in its absurdity. It’s the pure distilled essence of Tales from the Crypt.