Ginger Nuts of Horror
Ginger Nuts of Horror welcomes author Thomas S. Flowers as part of his promotion of his new collection of short stories The Hobbsburg Horror. Telling Tales sees Thomas talk about one of one of the most iconic horror TV shows of all time Tales From The Crypt.
Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, and his newest release, The Hobbsburg Horror. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging (coming soon), are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at Machine Mean, where he reviews movies and books on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can keep up with Thomas and all his strange events by joining his author newsletter, by clicking here.
For nearly a decade, from the span of 1989 thru 1996, Tales from the Crypt sent delightful chills down the spines of millions of viewers as they tuned in to HBO and whatever mad macabre story was about to be unleashed for the next twenty plus minutes. The Danny Elfman theme song and horn blasts and the creaking gate amidst a lightning storm, ushering us into a decapitated mansion, more lightening crashes, and still the camera and the brass moves us past the foyer and into the lower regions. Cobwebs and dust cover everything. This place looks abandoned. Buts it’s not. Just as we reach the bottom, from an aged and rustic coffin, as if conjured by an ellipses of manic cowling, jumps the Crypt Keeper, nearly devoid of flesh, howling with his cankerous jittering laughter, “Welcome, to Tales from the Crypt.” And we watch, popcorn resting in our laps, feet dancing as the title screen comes on and the green ooze oozes down in driblets.
If you’re like me than you no doubt have plenty of nostalgic memories of this show. Starting with “The Man Who Was Death,” staring the seriously underrated William Sadler, and ending, seven seasons later, with “The Third Pig,” (the only animated episode) staring the cuddly Bobcat Goldthwait as the Big Bad Wolf. Not forgetting three movies, Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, and Ritual (the made for TV movie with Tim Curry). As far as the movies go, my favorite has to be Demon Knight, not only was it the first, but it was also one of the best written and directed of the movies, staring again William Sadler and Billy Zane (back when Zane was actually still considered a good actor). Bordello was okay…my biggest qualm was Dennis Miller, the dude can do a hell-of-a monologue, but acting…ugh! And if you’re going to cast Corey Feldman, wouldn’t you want him more in the movie? Ritual was decent enough to spend an evening watching. I’m a big fan of voodoo in horror and this had the dark arts in spades. Plus, Tim Curry—need I say more?
As for the regularly aired episodes, it’s difficult to say which one was the best. Every season brought on a new collection of guest appearances from some of the most recognizable names during the 1990s. From Adam West to Amanda Plummer to Andrew McMarthy and Anna Friel and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, not forgetting the late great Bob Hoskins and Burt Yong, there was also Carol Kane and Brooke Shields and Ghostbuster alums Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. Cheers alum George Wendt starred in The Reluctant Vampire, and everyone’s favorite Jedi Master Ewan McGregor guest stared in Cold War, and there was also Hector Elizondo and James Remar, even gangster extraordinaire “you think I’m funny” Joe Pesci, and the lovable Indian Jones co-star John Rhys-Davies, Full House fellow John Stamos was on the show as well as Kathleen York, and our favorite FBI agent in the piney woods Kyle MacLachlan turned bad guy in one of the more twisted of episodes, “Carrion of Death.” The late-great Bill “game over man” Paxton and the always creepy Brad Dourif made an appearance in Season 5. And there were many more celebrities that found their way onto one or more Tales from the Crypt episodes, each one seemingly trying to out-do the last.
Now, deciding which one is “the best of the best,” well…let’s see what other horror nerds have to say. Ranking in as their number one, Bloody Disgusting named “The New Arrival” as their personal favorite. Fangoria called out “Cutting Cards” staring both Kevin Tighe and Lance Henriksen as their number one pick. Cinema Slasher has Season 3’s “Undertaking Parlor” as the be-all episode, starring Jonathan Ke Quan, Jason Marsden, Aron Eisenberg, and Scott Fults, about “a group of young, wannabe filmmakers that, while spying on an undertaker, discover some creepy and immoral actions being taken.” iHorror lists holiday special “All Through the House” as their numero uno and Den of Geek boasts “Fitting Punishment,” among others, as one of the most terrifying episodes to air on TV.
But which episode is MY favorite?
How about instead of one, I give you five?
Sounds fair, right?
Sorry. I cannot name just one with a show that spanned nearly a decade.
Not in any particular order, I’ll start my first top pick for Tales from the Crypt episodes with “The Man Who Was Death.” Okay. Sure. Given. This was the first episode of the show, and ought to be honored as such, but least we forget, the story was actually really scary, and socially pointed. And it stars, as you may recall, William Sadler. My next pick will be, obviously, “Death of Some Salesman.” Of all the shows that’ve aired on Tales from the Crypt, this particular one nearly won the show an Emmy—an Emmy for crying out loud! And it was all thanks to Tim Curry. If you’re not a fan of infamous voice and stage actor and one of the best transsexual mad scientists ever to grace cinema, I challenge you to watch this episode and tell me he’s only par. He plays not only the aged and rugged Pa Brackett, but also the misses Ma Brackett, and the not-so-attractive Winona Brackett. Its crude, nasty, and overall fantastic.
My next favorite also comes out of Season one with “Collection Completed.” M. Emmet Walsh stars as an elderly man forced into retirement who soon begins to butt heads with his loony tunes housewife. Driven insane by all the pets his wife brings into the house, Walsh decides to taxidermy all her furry companions. To say she is not happy would be an understatement, and the end will leave you chilled to the bone. “Carrion Death” is my next favorite, mostly due to Twin Peaks good guy turned bad guy in Tales from the Crypt, Kyle MacLachlan, but also because of the pacing of the episode, the slow buildup of suspense, even though you can pretty much guess what’ll happen in the end, it’s still horrifying to watch! My last on this favorites list will have to be “Yellow,” from Season 3. Not only am I a pretentious nerd when it comes to period pieces, but the episode is also wonderfully filmed, almost ornate in feeling, and it boasts a 40-minute run time (the longest episode in TFTC history).
Despite being off the air for twenty years now (feeling old yet?), a majority of the episodes still carry quite a punch and are actually very relevant. Tales from the Crypt harnessed the best of what those 1950s EC Comics and Twilight Zone episodes and other pillars of twisted anthologies and collections had to offer, giving us some of the most wonderful forewarning of being careful what we wish for, treating others as we’d like to be treated, and otherwise stories told around the campfire about the duality of morality. Tales from the Crypt showcased the best of what horror can be and inspired (and still does) countless generations of future filmmakers and storytellers. If you’re a fan of the show, what were some of your favorite episodes or moments?
Why are you afraid? They're just stories...right?
From the author of THE SUBDUE SERIES and REINHEIT comes a new collection of dark fiction.
THE HOBBSBURG HORROR