15 Favorite Tales From the Crypt episodes: A Primer

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Tell me you don’t read that title in the Cryptkeeper’s voice

Tales From the Crypt was a half-hour anthology horror show that ran seven seasons, from 1989 to 1996. It featured stories adapted from the EC comics of the 1950s, and was like a gorier, more horror-oriented take on The Twilight Zone. Most episodes ended with a twist and/or the villain of the story getting their appropriately ironic comeuppance. And, of course, the Cryptkeeper was there to guide us with his pun-filled intro and outro to each episode.

I started watching Tales as a young teenager, when NBC would show two episodes late Saturday nights, right after SNL. Still later, the Sci-Fi (now, annoyingly, Syfy) Channel used to have marathons I would watch, and even later than that, I had Netflix send me the entire series, three DVDs at a time (look, I’m old, okay?) to make sure I hadn’t missed a single episode. Now, of course, you only have to search YouTube to find most (all?) episodes for free.

Discovering Tales From the Crypt was very exciting for Tween/Teen Me; I cut my baby horror teeth on it. It helped develop my tastes in horror, giving me stories to explore and discover which themes worked for me and which didn’t. But even the “bad” episodes are still Tales From the fuckin’ Crypt, and I’ll still watch them any day of the week.

So, this list is more a list of personal favorites and episodes I feel added something to the series than a list of the “best” episodes of the series. Many of these are among the top-rated of the series; some aren’t; and many of the highest-rated episodes of all time aren’t included here at all. Everyone has a different opinion; it’s all about what hits you in a certain place at a certain time. All of these episodes hit me just the right way at some point in time.

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Random Review: Hellbenders (2012)

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Title: Hellbenders

Year: 2012

Writer/Director: J.T. Petty

Starring: Clancy Brown, Clifton Collins Jr., Larry Fessenden

Tagline: Deliver them to evil (There’s also “They’re going to hell so we won’t have to.” I picked the one I liked better to feature here.)

Description: The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, a team of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, work to drag the worst of demons back to Hell. (From IMDb.)

So, hi guys! You might have noticed that my title up there says “Review” rather than “Recap,” and you might further be wondering what the hell I’m doing here, changing up formats and such. (Unless this is your first visit to this site and therefore you have no fucking clue what I’m blabbering about, in which case, Welcome! and how dare you accuse me of blabbering.) To which I respond that every now and then I watch a movie that I want to talk about, but don’t really have the desire to do a full recap of, for whatever reason. So, this marks the first time I’m going to attempt a review with more substance to it than what I write on Letterboxd, but less involved than a full recap. And you get to take this wild ride with me, as I work out all the kinks and bullshit! Lucky(???) you!

Note: because I’m me, there will definitely be spoilers ahead. There are movies/books I’ll review spoiler-free, but this ain’t one of them, y’all.

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Recap #29 – The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

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Title: The Dollhouse Murders

Author: Betty Ren Wright

Published: 1983

Tagline: The dolls didn’t forget . . .

Description: It was just an old dollhouse. Hidden away in the attic – collecting dust. Amy didn’t know that the dollhouse held a secret. A deadly secret that hadn’t been talked about in years. And now, the dolls have decided that Amy should be the one to know the truth. The truth about the night of the murder . . .

Nostalgia Time!


While I’m sure I’ve read other Betty Ren Wright books (the cover of Christina’s Ghost in particular looks far too familiar for me not to have checked it out of the school library around 3rd grade or so!), I had never read this one before. I got it a while back at the used book store down the street when they were having a warehouse sale – they opened up their back room and sold people however many books you could cram into a plastic bag for $5. This was one of the books I picked up, based on the cover and the fact that, well, it’s a creepy dollhouse, right? That’s gotta be good!

Spoiler alert: It was good!

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Recap #27 – Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike

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Title: Whisper of Death

Author: Christopher Pike

Published: Dec. 1991

Tagline: They returned home to a dead world . . . .

Description: All the people had vanished.

Roxanne and Pepper are a teenage couple with problems. They leave their small town for a weekend to try and solve them. They don’t really succeed, and when they return home they find their town empty.

They call other towns.

They find the whole world empty.

But eventually they discover three other kids their age who are still alive in the town. They cannot imagine why the five of them seem to be the only ones left of the entire human race. They have only one thing in common. They were each directly or indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue – the plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short time ago. Betty Sue – the quiet, brilliant girl who wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world.

It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was.

Or what Betty Sue was.

Nostalgia Time!


Pepper. Jesus Christ, Pike, what’s with the names? I can’t wait til I get to Road to Nowhere (and end up with the Ozzy song stuck in my head the entire time I recap it, I just know it) with its characters, Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn. Fuck me, these names.

So, I was ten years old when this book came out, and I know I didn’t read it that early. I’m not sure exactly when I did read it, though. I was probably 13 or 14, I’d guess. I’ve never known quite what to make of this story. It’s one of those books that makes me feel dumb because I can’t quite figure out its full meaning. Interestingly, the first time I read this, I was still firmly entrenched in my mother’s anti-abortion beliefs (hell, the woman dragged me to an anti-abortion protest when I was ten – getting flipped off by motorists going by on the highway was, um, an experience) and this book read as pro-choice to me then. Now that my whole ideology has pretty much flipped, this book reads more anti-abortion to me now. I’m not sure Pike himself knew where he stood, since the message of this book seems a bit . . . muddled?

I think this is also the book where I got the wild idea that Christopher Pike was really Stephen King writing under another pen name. I know better now, of course, but there really did seem to be similarities in the styles and substance.

Also, if you couldn’t tell from the above paragraphs, content warning for abortion, of both the doctor-approved kind and the more DIY kind. (One of the things I thought I vividly remembered about this book was a coat-hanger abortion. Turns out that’s not actually in here, it’s just alluded to, and that might not even technically be what’s being alluded to. Memory is weird.) Heads up for suicide and rape discussion, as well.

Continue reading “Recap #27 – Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike”

Recap #25 – Twin Terror by Janice Harrell

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Title: Twin Terror

Author: Janice Harrell

Published: 1996

Tagline: Murder . . . times two

Description: If at first you don’t succeed . . .

An urn of ashes labeled “Isabel Herrick” sat in a closet upstairs, and a police report on my twin’s murder had been filed at the beach town of Duck Cove. In spite of that, I found Isabel waiting for me when I went to the house.

Elizabeth can’t believe it when her murdered twin sister turns up alive and well. Isabel has just been hiding, hoping that Elizabeth’s presence will flush out the mysterious person who’d tried to kill her.

But now Isabel really is dead – and the police think Elizabeth is the killer. Trapped in a terrifying world where nothing is what it seems, Elizabeth struggles to solve her twin’s murder and save herself in this page-turning thriller.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, we finally made it, folks. The exciting conclusion to Twin Sisters, that I’ve waited over twenty years to read. (Seriously, if you haven’t read the recap of Twin Sisters, please do so now. This book is incomprehensible without knowing what happens in the first part, and I’m not going to waste time recapping my previous recap.)

So. This book was a thing. A frustrating letdown of a thing. Since I’d never read it before, the only nostalgia story I have is what I wrote in my Twin Sisters recap, but I was hoping it would be at least as good as the first book. It was not. It has this weird feeling of being both too rushed, and somehow also very padded out. These two books could have easily been one slightly longer book if the pacing had been a bit more evened out. I’m disappointed that Ms. Harrell is back to shitty Murder Game form for the conclusion of this story.

Oh, and just for shits and giggles, here’s the book I actually own, rather than the pristine cover up there:

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12/10 would also black out Liz’s teeth in person

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Recap #23 – Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

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Title: Wait Till Helen Comes

Author: Mary Downing Hahn

Published: Nov. 1987

Description: Beware of Helen . . .

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her . . . our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home – a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond . . . to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watched her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather . . .

Nostalgia Time!


This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I remember reading it when I was about eight years old and loving it. I think I owned it but lost it over the years, so when I was a young teen I decided I wanted it back, but none of the local bookstores had it in stock. I had the Walden Books in the mall special order it for me, because Amazon wasn’t a thing yet. I remember being slightly embarrassed as a teenager ordering what is essentially a children’s book, but I was so happy when it came in, and upon rereading it, it was as good as I’d remembered from when I was eight. On this reread . . . guys, it’s still good!

There’s a movie version that came out in late 2016/early 2017 starring Callum Keith Rennie (whom I adore) and Maria Bello as the parents, and I’m considering watching and recapping it as well. However, most of the reviews were lukewarm at best, and I guess it premiered on the Lifetime channel (with the title Little Girl’s Secret, which makes it sound like a whole other type of movie altogether), so I don’t have high hopes for it. It might make for a snarkier recap, though. If I can find it as a rental I have more than 24 hours with, it may end up as a companion piece to this.

Finally, I just need to talk about this cover for a second. I love it! Helen looks creepy as hell; if she or Heather have any peripheral vision at all, then they already know Molly is spying on them, and can we talk about Heather’s fabulous mullet? I. Love. It. This is the perfect 1980s cover, guys! (But also, it’s summertime, so why is everyone wearing sweatshirts . . . ?) Boyfriend saw the cover and called it the most eighties thing he’s ever seen (not wrong), and then when I told him what it’s about, he was like, Damn, that’s pretty heavy for a kids’ book. (Again, not wrong.)

Continue reading “Recap #23 – Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn”

Recap #22 – Hit and Run by R.L. Stine

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Title: Hit and Run

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: June 1992

Tagline: Look before you cross . . . .

Description: License to drive. License to kill.

Eddie, Scott, Winks, and Cassie. They went out for a drive one night. Just to practice, so Eddie would be sure and get his license.

Then Eddie had a little accident. Now four friends share a terrible secret.

Because Eddie hit someone and killed him.

Didn’t he?

Nostalgia Time!


This came out a couple months before my 11th birthday, and I’m pretty sure I remember reading it around that time, but I had only the vaguest recollection of the book itself. It started coming back to me as I read it, but I think I would have figured this one out pretty quick even if it hadn’t. It wasn’t hard, especially taking into account the fact that R.L. Stine was almost vehemently opposed to anything supernatural going on in his Point Horror novels. Rule of thumb? If it appears to be zombies, it’s really just an elaborate prank set up by your shitty friends. (Spoilers.) Which is why I thought this recap would be perfect for April Fool’s Day. I considered doing Richie Tankersley Cusick’s April Fools, but I couldn’t handle another RTC so soon after recapping The Lifeguard. I’m still scarred by that one, guys.

So, apparently the copy of this book I bought at a used book sale a few months ago belonged to Thelma. I hope Thelma enjoyed it more than I did.

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You go, Thelma

 

Continue reading “Recap #22 – Hit and Run by R.L. Stine”

Recap #20 – Spring Break by Barbara Steiner

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Title: Spring Break

Author: Barbara Steiner

Published: 1996

Tagline: Sun, surf . . . murder?

Description: Five high school kids get their dream vacation—which soon turns into a nightmare.

Angie, her brother, and her three best friends anticipate the perfect spring break when their prayers are answered—a beach vacation without parents! The only problem is finding somewhere to stay—turns out every hotel is filled with other spring breakers. They luck out when they find a three-story beach-house rental, which happens to be run by the incredibly handsome Val. Is it too good to be true?

Soon, Angie starts hearing strange noises—footsteps, a mysterious sound of crying. Her friends say her imagination is getting the best of her, but when one by one, they go missing, she knows the danger is real . . . and this vacation could be her last.

Nostalgia Time!


Um, I got nothing, guys. I would have been about 15 when this book was published, and it’s certainly the sort of thing I would have read, but even after reading it for this recap I have no idea if I’ve ever read it before. (I bought it cheap on Kindle; it didn’t come out of my basement box of old books.) This book is so forgettable that it’s absolutely possible I read it back in the day and don’t remember it. Hell, I’m looking at the surfboard on that cover and desperately trying to remember if anyone surfs in this book. Incidentally, that’s not the cover art that came with my Kindle version. The Kindle art is boring as fuck; there’s another cover that is basically one big spoiler for what happens at the end of the book; then there’s this cover that I feel is the best one. I just can’t fucking remember if anyone surfs, so I can’t call out if this cover is a lie. [Note from Future Me: It’s a lie. Nary a surfboard to be found.] The description is a lie, though! Val is not the caretaker or landlord or whatever that description is trying to make you believe. He’s a cute guy Angie meets on the beach, who’s camping somewhere down the coast. Who writes these lying descriptions, anyway? I won’t lie to you, y’all!

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Recap #16 – Full Moon Blowout: The Blooding by Patricia Windsor

blooding

Title: The Blooding

Author: Patricia Windsor

Published: Oct. 1996

Description: Maris can’t bear her mother’s painful criticism, the constant reminders of past mistakes. So when she takes a summer job as an au pair in England and her mother insists she won’t be able to handle the responsibility, Maris knows this is her chance to prove that she can make up her own mind about things.

Barb Forrest suffers from a strange fatigue disorder and is grateful for Maris’s help with the two young children. For Maris, it feels good to be needed. Barb’s husband, Derek, may be a bit odd – unpredictable, with a wild light behind his eyes – but life with their family is peaceful, like a dream.

Then everything comes apart when Barb is found dead on the bedroom floor, killed in a disturbing manner. At first, Maris is frightened. But when she discovers the truth about Derek, the truth about his transformations and his plans for her, surprisingly, she’s no longer afraid. Because Maris is beginning to see that being blooded means she will have something that her mother can never take away.

Or, if you like a more succinct summary, there’s this:

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For a story that practically screams “WEREWOLF!” at you in all the descriptions, it takes forever to actually werewolf.

Nostalgia Time!


I remember reading this book as a teenager, and it stood out to me because it was one of a very few werewolf books I’d ever read. I was more into vampires than werewolves at the time, and werewolf books didn’t seem as common in the YA thriller genre. The book stuck in my mind, including the title, but I’d forgotten who the author was until I listened to the Teen Creeps podcast episode of Windsor’s The Christmas Killer and they named off Windsor’s other novels. So I hopped on Amazon, bought myself a used library copy, and figured I just had to recap it! I decided to do it for the full moon in January since it fit in with my theme of the month – babysitters in peril – and was a werewolf story. How perfect is that, right? Now, if you look at the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s very mixed. I understand. I have such nostalgia about this book (I remember checking it out of the library, the house I lived in at the time, lying in bed reading it), but reading it as an adult was a bit of a let-down. Which I guess was my whole premise for this site? Anyway, let’s get into it, shall we?

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Recap #15 – Mother’s Helper by A. Bates

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Title: Mother’s Helper

Author: A. Bates (Auline Bates)

Published: August 1991

Tagline: Rock-a-bye-bye-baby . . .

Description: Her dream job is about to turn into a nightmare.

Becky can hardly believe it. Spending the summer as a mother’s helper on a romantic island, earning money for college and working on her tan at the same time – what a lucky break!

Too bad . . . Becky’s luck is about to change.

Soon the accidents will start happening – and the phone calls. Suddenly Becky’s island paradise will seem more like a prison. Becky will be plenty scared then. Mother’s helper is going to need all the help she can get.

Nostalgia Time!


That description is bullshit. There are no accidents, and the phone calls are literally just the phone ringing over and over – Becky never answers the phone. Nothing fucking happens in this book until the end.

Wait, that’s not how I usually start these recaps, is it? K. Sorry. Let’s try this again.

Ahem.

This book was released the month I turned ten. I probably didn’t read it that early, I’d say it was probably a couple years after that, although I do seem to be able to picture myself reading this in the house I lived in when I was ten, so it’s anyone’s guess. I didn’t remember this one very well, or else I probably wouldn’t have bothered rereading it. I think I’ve been putting off writing this recap, not only because I’ve been sick (which I have – goddamn respiratory flu won’t let go of me) but also because I know I’m not going to have fun writing the recap of this damn book. It’s not even fun-bad; it’s just fucking boring.

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