Written by Dr. Jose
I’ve been in love with Tales from the Crypt ever since I bought my first copy (a reprint of Issue #1, coincidentally) at a roadside convenience store way back in 1990. (Transparency: my mom actually bought it – I was still just a kid.) Quickly, one issue turned to two, two turned to three, and soon I had a stack of Tales from the Crypt, as well as EC Comics brethren The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, on my bedroom floor, feeding my imagination daily. Later that year I discovered Tales from the Crypt came in television form and my adoration grew even more. I got a huge kick out of comparing the comics I owned to the episodes I’d just watched.
When Tales went off the air in 1996, I was bummed – not only because I really enjoyed the show (well, maybe not the last season so much), but because there were still so many stories from the comics to explore! Even after seven seasons on HBO – 93 episodes total – the show had barely scratched the surface on the 500+ stories from the original magazines. (For those unaware, the Tales TV show pulled its stories from all the EC Comics of that era, including: The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science-Fantasy, Shock SuspenStories, Crime SuspenStories, and Two-Fisted Tales.)
Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Tales from the Crypt is coming back to TV, and I for one could not be more excited. While some reported aspects of the new show give me pause (mainly that it will be on network TV), there is one thing I’m thrilled about: the producers are returning to the pages of the original EC Comics for material. Ultimately, this is all that matters. As of now, the stories they plan to adapt remain unknown – but that’s where this article comes in!
Today marks the 27th anniversary of the Tales from the Crypt TV show, so in honor of that – as well as the news that Tales is returning – I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite untapped stories, ones I think would make great new episodes.
“Trapped!”, The Vault of Horror #21 (1951)
Synopsis: A criminal with a briefcase full of money is on the run from the law, and he won’t let anything – or anyone – stand in his way. A pesky fly, however, seems to have other plans for the absconder.
Similar Tales from the Crypt episode: Carrion Death, S3 E2 (1991)
Reasons for consideration: Like some of the best episodes of Tales, the plot line here is uncomplicated, yet potent: bad person does bad things and fate doles out a painful retribution. Simple and effective. And much like the vulturous blackbird in Carrion Death, the fly in “Trapped!” plays a central role in the story’s development.
“Mother’s Day”, Crime SuspenStories #21 (1954)
Synopsis: Throughout their lives two brothers, Fred and Harold, vie for the attention of their mother. Despite being the more upstanding of the two, the older Fred is cruelly neglected and unfairly punished by his mother. At one point, the delinquent Harold commits a crime, but Fred decides to take the rap and ends up going to jail. In the meantime, Harold gets into a physical fight with their mother, putting her in a coma-like state. When Fred is released he decides to come clean to his mother and explain how Harold has been a corrupt monster their whole lives. Alas, it’s too late: Fred, unaware that his mother is in a coma and instead believing that she’s ignoring him – as she’s always done – decides to kill himself.
Similar Tales from the Crypt episode: Three’s a Crowd, S2 E5 (1990)
Reasons for consideration: One of the great things about the Tales TV show – something that I think secures its place alongside timeless horror anthologies like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents – was its ability to deliver the occasional emotional gut punch while still providing ample amounts of gore and scares, and “Mother’s Day” is a prime example of that. If Shyamalan’s new incarnation wants to break up the supernatural stuff with some real devastation, this would be a great place to start.
“Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall!”, Tales from the Crypt #34 (1953)
Synopsis: A first-person POV tale where everyone the narrator encounters flees in terror. All is revealed in the end when our lead wanders into a hall of mirrors at a nearby carnival.
Similar Tales from the Crypt episode: You, Murderer, S6 E15 (1995)
Reasons for consideration: While somewhat similar to the aforementioned Tales episode, “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall!” is actually identical to “Reflections of Death”, a segment from the 1972 Tales from the Crypt movie (based on a Tales story originally published in 1951). Using an entirely first-person perspective is a playful change of pace, while still ratcheting up the suspense, and delivering a solid twist ending. Plus, it’s worked for both the original Tales from the Crypt movie and TV show – so there’s no doubt it would work again.
“Child’s Play”, The Vault of Horror #21 (1951)
Synopsis: A group of children decide to take revenge on a violent neighbor who kills his wife.
Similar Tales from the Crypt episode: Undertaking Palor, S3 E9 (1991)
Reasons for consideration: The horror genre is as important to kids as it is to adults. Just look at super popular literature like Tales from the Crypt, Fangoria Magazine, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, or Goosebumps. Movies like The Monster Squad, The Witches, or Ernest Scared Stupid. Or shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Eerie, Indiana, all of which were special to a young gorehound like me because they were all about kids getting in trouble, going on adventures, and taking horror-related scenarios head-on. The Tales episode Undertaking Palor was all about that, following a group of youngsters who exact retaliation on a local mortician who killed one of their fathers, and this story, “Child’s Play”, is very much the same. So amid the ghosts and ghouls that are sure to inhabit this new Tales TV show, it’d be nice to see the inclusion of some kid-focused horror.
“An Ample Sample”, The Vault of Horror #32 (1953)
Similar Tales from the Crypt episode: Collection Completed, S1 E6 (1989)
Reasons for consideration: This is a gruesome, mean-spirited story that would fit in perfectly with the original Tales from the Crypt show, so my fingers are crossed it makes it to the small screen this time around. All the components are there: broken marriage, comeuppance, and piles of gory viscera. I remember reading this as a kid and just lingering on the final frame. A shocker, indeed.
Well, that’s all I have for now. Truthfully, I could’ve made this list three times longer but I narrowed it down to my five favorites. Are you a fan of the original EC Comics? If so, what are some of your favorites tales you’d like see brought to the new series? Let me know below!