Welcome Boils and Ghouls! Ahhh.. The days of that nostalgic animatronic horror host seem like yesterday. When I was eight years old, I fondly remember sneaking out my room way past my bedtime, following the curious haunted house like music that plagued the hallways leading into the living room. I found my parents watching a program with this little wise cracking hellion shooting puns right and left. I was immediately hooked.
The horror anthology series was a true testament that everyone loves a good scary story. With a total of 93 episodes, the series ran from 1989 to 1996 on HBO, spanning seven glorious seasons chocked filled with gore, zombies, voodoo, vampires and pretty much covering every one of the seven deadly sins. Because of it’s run on primetime premium cable, the show didn’t hold back. HBO allowed the series to contain graphic violence as well as other content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time. All that nudity and constant F- bombs isn’t something you would obviously see on ABC. On the show, you’ll see many famous familiar faces, as how it seems, you really haven’t made it till you appear on a Tales From The Crypt episode. Such as Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Tim Curry, Demi Moore, Bill Paxton and so many more. For the last 2 weeks, I have delightfully devoted my time re-visiting all seven seasons of this national treasure based off the 1950’s EC Comics. I have to admit, this really is one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever taken on as far as a top ten. With all the great episodes this series has to offer, how the hell can you narrow it down to just ten?! Well, with a lot thought, debate, and Stella beer… I managed to dwindle it down to what I think are the greatest episodes this series has given us. Be advised this is obviously based on my opinion growing up with the show, and any and all are welcome to give me your two cents on the subject. As an added bonus for you horror heads, I’ve included each full length episode along with this list. Fasten your drool cups, and ready your vomit bags! Here they are!
10. The New Arrival
Season 4 Episode 7
This episode that features David Warner as a pompous radio host and the ever so fabulous Zelda Rubinstein as a desperate mother is easily one of the most macabre of all the episodes. Dr. Alan Getz is told that he is in danger of losing his show due to poor ratings. In a bid to remedy the problem he decides to visit the home of regular caller, Nora. A woman who has continual trouble with her badly behaved daughter Felicity. Getz gets more than what he bargained for as he slowly realizes Felicity has her own plans for the doctor and his bitchy crew.
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9. The Switch
Season 2 Episode 2
In this episode, directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, (oh yes) an elderly rich man played by William Hickey will do anything to snatch the girl of his dreams. Alas, the girl he longs for is much younger than he, and of course a picky bitch. So he visits a mad scientist who claims he can make him look like an Adonis of the ages with the help of a young man willing to sacrifice his body for money. No spoilers here, but the end of this tale is extremely fucked up. It might be more fucked up that I thought it was hilarious.
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8. People Who Live In Brass Hearses
Season 5 Episode 5
Starring Bill Paxton and Brad Dourif, this is a tale of two brothers. Virgil who is mentally challenged, will do anything for his older asshole felon of a brother Billy. Billy comes up with a scheme for revenge against the man who put him in prison- kindly ice cream vendor Mr. Byrd. However, plans go awry and the two are forced to take extreme measures with a surprise twist at the end. Maybe I’m a little biased, but i absolutely love almost anything Brad Dourif is attached to. His acting abilities are criminally underrated.
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7. Abra- Cadaver
Season 3 Episode 4
Beau Bridges is Martin- a former great surgeon. Former meaning his brother Carl, played by Tony Goldwyn, played an almost lethal practical joke on the man costing him his career and use of his surgeon hands. Now, hell bent on getting even, Martin plays his own joke on Carl and ends up in terrifying results. Some of the WTF scenes make you seriously cringe and is hands down one of the most psychologically scarring episodes.
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6. The Reluctant Vampire
Season 3 Episode 7
You gotta love the story of Mr. Longtooth: The vampire with a conscience who takes a job as a night watchman at a blood bank. Perfect job for the night demon who can’t bring himself to kill anyone, so he supplements his needs with blood from the blood bank. Problems ensue however, when his dick head boss threatens to close down the business due to low blood supply- thanks to our shy vampire friend. So Longtooth, who is played by the fantastic Malcolm McDowell, is forced to pay back the bank with the scum of the city’s blood supply so he may hope to save the jobs of his fellow employees and his secret love. All the vampire- like murders however, attract vampire slayer, Rupert Von Helsing ( Michael Berryman) and the hunt is on. This episode is absolute cheese- and I love every second of it.
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5. Death Of Some Salesman
Season 5 Episode 1
Honestly, if it wasn’t for Tim Curry, I’m not sure this episode would have made it. That’s the kind of power this guy has over me. AND we not only get one Curry character, but THREE. I mean, seriously how could I not? Anyway, the tale is that of a conniving salesman played by Ed Begley Jr. selling bogus cemetery plots to the naive. When he encounters the Brackett family however, he surely has knocked on the wrong door. The “family” has somewhat of a Texas Chainsaw type feel to them, which sells the psycho factor… or it could just be Tim Curry. Either way, it works for me! Bonus is a cameo from the ever so lovely Yvonne De Carlo, whom you may also know as Lily Munster.
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4. The Undertaking Parlor
Season 3 Episode 9
This episode is the only one where kids conquer the starring roles; and they did a superb job. The episode is that of four horror loving boys who break into the local mortuary as a prank, but uncover something much more sinister. The town’s undertaker and a mystery man are in cahoots, murdering the rich people in the town to gain a profit from the funerals. When the boys decide to nail the murderous bastards, shit hits the fan and they may end up laying up in the funeral parlor themselves. The mortician (a fantastically over-the-top performance by John Glover) will make you cringe as he performs unorthodox methods on the dead. The eating of the pizza right over a dead body with it’s chest cut open get’s me every time.
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3. Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone
Season 1 Episode 3
A drunkard named Ulric (Joe Pantoliano) gets a chance at stardom when a nutty doctor comes up with the twisted concept of “Nine Lives”. The crazed doc implants a group of cells from a cat and Ulric is able to die nine times. Ulric associates to the owner of a side show, Barker, and together with his mistress Coralee, they make a successful show where Ulric dies in front of the audiences to turn a profit. You can clearly tell Joey Pants is having a good time with this role, which is why this episode seems so enjoyable. Watching him come up with quirky ways to die each time and then executing in an over the top fashion never get’s old to watch.
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2. Cutting Cards
Season 2 Episode 3
This has to be one that just keeps better every time you watch. The pure hatred that these two have for each other, although never really explained, is both entertaining and downright believable. Two serious gamblers played by Lance Henriksen and Kevin Tighe, go head to head in one serious game of poker in attempt to run the other out of town. The game, called chop poker, consists of the losing player at each hand, losing on of his limbs. You can easily see the joy in each of their faces when it comes to grabbing the meat cleaver, which is what makes this episode so great. Twisted bastards.
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1. All Through The House
Season 1 Episode 2
Here we are: The numero uno is but of course, All Through The House. This was only the second ever episode, but is easily the best in my opinion. This episode was actually directed by Robert Zemeckis and tells the tale of a schizo ax wielding santa on the loose on Christmas Eve and an unsuspecting mother. The mother played by the recently deceased Mary Ellen Trainor, kills her husband and while she is dumping his body on the yard, the dangerous patient of a mental institution (Larry Drake AKA Dr. Giggles) dressed like Santa attacks her. She escapes into the house, however, she is unable to call the police since the body of her husband is in the front yard. Which leads the maniac perfectly able to contemplate a plan to fulfill his murderous needs. This episode alone could be the premise for a full length horror feature, and it somewhat feels that way without the fillers. I can honestly say this one of the best Holiday Horrors you’ll find for the Christmas season, or hell any day of the year.
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Well there you have it kiddies. You’re free to agree or disagree with me so sound off below and tell me your favorite episode!