Franchise Review: Tales from the Crypt

When a TV show gets spun into a movie, do you have horrible flashbacks to movies like Sgt. Bilko, the Flintstones, the Beverly Hillbillies?  Of course not, most people have common sense not to watch those, but they still get made.  At least Tales from the Crypt had a real shot at doing what these movies couldn’t do — be entertaining.  Without having to follow certain characters, other than the Cryptkeeper of course, the filmmakers can do whatever they want, make any old horror movie and stick the Tales from the Crypt name on it.  That’d be the lazy way of doing things, but fortunately, Tales was able to crank out one great flick and one decent one….and then someone made a crappy movie then stuck the name on it, but I’ll get into that later.  And so, kiddies, enjoy the frights to come.

Directed by Ernest Dickerson

Starring Billy Zane, William Sadler and Jada Pinkett not-quite-Smith-yet (along with Mr. Futterman from Gremlins and the voice of Roger Rabbit for the hell of it.)

Review:  Millions of millennia ago, the Earth hadn’t formed and there was a dark void that contained demons.  These demons had seven keys with which they controlled the cosmos.  God then created Earth and banished the demons and spread the keys to the far reaches of the galaxy.  Fast forward to now where they have six and the last one is found on Earth.  The final battle of good vs. evil takes place in a hotel in the middle of nowhere between a demonic collector and the guardian of Jesus’ blood, the only thing that can stop the evil.

You just feel like saying, “Whoaaaa, whoa, that’s heavy!  Isn’t this ‘Tales from the Crypt?’  Very true, this is a movie based off the gruesome cable series that’s known not just for its’ bloody tone, but also for its campy, and often times dark, humor.  The filmmakers must’ve felt they needed to kick it up a notch (BAM!) when taking the show to the big screen.  But don’t let the plot fool you, there’s a lot of humor coming from every direction to lighten the mood when necessary.  Most of the humor comes from the evil collector himself, Billy Zane, who seems to really enjoy chewing the scenery every chance he gets.  As bad ass as he is, he’s just so non-chalant about the whole situation, he’s just fucking with the humans until he gets the key.  The asshole of the bunch, Roach (Thomas Haden Church), also has a few good lines, even when confronted face to face by the demons.  Throughout the seriousness of the movie, you’ll find yourself chuckling and laughing at what’s going on.

So now that the comedy is out of the way, let’s get the gruesome matters at hand.  The movie is quite gory, especially for 1995.  Not that there weren’t gory movies back then, but usually stuff  like this would be cut down theatrically.  The list of digust includes a punch through the head, eyeballs shot out/gouged out, limbs ripped off, people torn to shreds, beheaded, etc.  It covers pretty much all the bases I think.

There’s very little I can think of that I don’t like that even matters.  Maybe the pacing is off a little bit, maybe the story is a little out of whack, but honestly, in the end, it’s just nitpicking.  The cast is great, all doing the job they were supposed to do and doing it well, it’s got more than enough gore, more than enough laughs.  It’s a personal classic, I enjoy it every time I see it.

Story: 7 – You may have to connect some of the backstory dots, but the story just clicks.

Blood: 9 – It’s got everything a gorehound would look for.

Boobs: 7 – They even tossed a scene in with a ton of hot, topless women.

Overall: 9 – Well boils and ghouls, I went through the entire review without even mentioning the Cryptkeeper.  The TFtC connection just adds to the awesome, if you haven’t seen it, seek it out!

Directed by Gilbert Adler

Starring Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak and Angie Everhart

Review:  Vincent (B-movie veteran Phil Fondacero) and his lackies are exploring a forest for a rare treasure.  It’s not money or gold or jewels.  It’s a coffin that contains the body of Lilith, the mother of all vampires.  Vincent carries a box that has four sections of Lilith’s heart; it was the only way to stop her.  After stuffing the heart into the body, it starts to re-animate and quickly she comes back to life only to kill one of them before turning to Vincent.  He pulls out a key filled with blood (seen in the previous TFtC film) that seems to be the only way to control her.  He gives her the other lackey when she promises she’ll obey him.

What’s that have to do with a bordello?  Maybe filled with blood?  Well, Katherine (Eleniak) hires detective Rafe Guttman (Miller) to find her missing brother Caleb (Corey Feldman…the other Corey is of course in the film as well.)  While on the hunt for Caleb, Guttman happens upon a bordello that operates out of a funeral home.  One of the women who runs it is…Lilith!  The story goes even deeper but I won’t even get into that, this has gone on for two paragraphs already.

Needless to say, while the previous Crypt movie was light on plot, this one has a story that just goes on and on.  Problem is, when you got a movie promising tits, who needs a story?  So does the movie have mass amounts of bare-breasted women running about?  Indeed it does!  It’s strange to have a horror movie market more the fact that there’s nudity than blood.  But don’t worry, it has that in spades too.  Not wanting to be left behind as far as gore goes, the vampires do a lot more than just bite necks.  Beheadings, stabbings, bodies blown up, torn to shreds, lots of bloodletting.

The main problem with the movie is whether or not you’ll find it funny.  Yeah, it’s horror but Tales from the Crypt likes to present things with a bit of humor and you getting your funny bone tickled really depends on whether you like the comic stylings of Dennis Miller.  Personally, I’m not his biggest fan, though he does have a few funny scenes, I can’t help but think that the movie would have been better with a different comedian.  Anyone.  Erika Eleniak does a decent job, but when your career is based on how hot you are naked, you doing a movie about mass amounts of nudity and not doing a nude scene means you’re just a waste of screen time.  I can give Everhart a pass because at least she tries to be sexy.  Genre vet Chris Sarandon does what he can in a small role as a rock ‘n roll minister with a sinister motive.  Overall a mixed acting bag…but what else can you expect with a movie with the two Coreys?

The movie is a decent romp and worth a watch, if anything for the big battle with the vampires armed with water guns filled with holy water to the tune of “Ballroom Blitz.”  It’s got plenty of boobs and gore to keep you interested, but the story is perhaps too much for this type of movie and the laughs are really dependant on your comic tastes in Miller.

Story:  4 – Maybe trying too hard to have a real story with twists and turns when the audience will be mostly paying attention to boobs and blood.

Boobs: 8 – Once the bordello is open for business, things are good.

Blood: 8 – Again, gorehounds all over will enjoy what’s on tap here.

Overall: 6 – It could’ve been better, but a decent watch all the same.  I actually enjoyed the wraparounds with the Cryptkeeper having a rather unfriendly game with the Mummy (played by a returning William Sadler) where they hack off each others’ limbs until someone is left with just a head.  Give the Cryptkeeper his own movie, I’ll give that a shot!

There actually was a third film made in the series, but it took FOREVER to get released.  After the failed box office coup of Bordello of Blood, a planned third film was cancelled.  A film titled “Ritual” was filmed and released internationally in 2001 to bad reviews and even worse box office numbers.  It got picked up in 2006 and had Cryptkeeper segments filmed to make it a new third film for the franchise but even that wasn’t enough to get people to watch it and it quickly faded away from all existence.  If you’re expecting a review, tough luck, it’s hard to find and probably not even worth it.  And this is guy who hunted down the last two Wishmaster movies to watch.

I mean c’mon, that shit looks worse than the photoshop I did for the top picture.  And the Cryptkeeper with dreadlocks???  Bleh!

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