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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Recap #64 – Murder, She Wrote ep. 5.13 Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble

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Behold the witchy pentagram of witchiness

Title: Murder, She Wrote episode 5.13 “Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble”

Director:  John Llewellyn Moxey

Writer: Tom Sawyer [lol]

Original Airdate: Feb. 19, 1989 [Wait, this wasn’t a Halloween episode? I am confuse.]

Description: Jessica is suspicious when the appearance of the ghost of a long-dead witch burned at the stake coincides with the release of a book on the very subject.

Guest Stars: Brad Dourif, Roddy McDowall, Bill Maher, Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone

Nostalgia Time!


No, seriously, this wasn’t a Halloween episode? How is that even possible? This was closer to Valentine’s Day?! Whut?

Sorry.

So, this is one of the murder mystery/detective shows I used to watch with my mom all the time starting when I was probably around 8 years old or so. I loved mysteries, and would always try to figure out whodunnit before the end of the episode. I was usually pretty good at it, too. I figured out early on that it was usually the person nobody is suspecting, too, even if that is a cliche.

I don’t remember watching this episode way back in the day, but I definitely sought it out many years ago after I became aware of Brad Dourif (who, thanks to seven Child’s Play movies, is shaping up to be the most-recapped actor on this site). I sought this episode out again more recently due to the presence of Roddy McDowall (who is very shortly going to be challenging Mr. Dourif for the title of Most-Recapped Actor on this site). Anyway, this episode is a ridiculous amount of fun and, well, ridiculousness.

I’m not sure why Murder, She Wrote is enjoying a renaissance among my age bracket and the one just below mine, but I’m happy it is. It makes me feel like less of a dud for enjoying it.

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Recap #45 – The Monkees – “Monkee vs Machine” ep 1.3

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Series: The Monkees

Episode: Monkee vs Machine (Season 1 Episode 3)

Original Airdate: Sept. 26, 1966

Writer: David Panich

Director: Bob Rafelson

Description: After Peter fails a job interview at a toy factory conducted by a computer, Mike makes the same machine short circuit and is promptly hired. Soon all four Monkees take a stand against the technology minded Mr Daggart in favor of old fashioned, hand made toys. (From IMDb)

Nostalgia Time!


I unashamedly and unironically love the Monkees, guys. About 10-15 years ago I started really diving into the music and watched all the episodes on DVD. Before that, I remember watching them with my cousin when the show was rerun on MTV in the 80s. There was only one specific episode I remember from then, and this isn’t it, but this one is one of my favorites. Reportedly it was also one of Peter Tork’s favorites, and when I heard he had died in February of this year (2019 if you’re reading this in the future) I decided to recap this as soon as I could. It took me a while to get to it, because I was in the middle of recapping the ever-so-shitty book, The Yearbook, but we’re here now, folks.

Also, for some reason I always think this episode is more Peter-centric, but then it turns more into a Mike episode, and I always somehow forget that.

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Goosebumps – “Be Careful What You Wish For” Episode 2.1 (Recap #40)

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Series: Goosebumps

Title: Be Careful What You Wish For

Season 2, Episode 1

Airdate: August 10, 1996

Writer: Charles Lazer (Based on R.L. Stine’s book)

Director: Rene Bonniere

Description: When terminally unpopular Samantha meets a strange woman who offers to grant her three wishes, she soon finds herself in deep trouble.

 

First Impressions


I’m not sure if I ever watched this one on TV or not. After watching it, I think it seemed familiar, but I’m just not sure. I think I may have read the book back in the day. Anyway, I chose this episode as my first Goosebumps TV episode recap because I’m a sucker for stories about backfiring wishes and/or evil genies, as you’ll see in an upcoming recap, Wishmaster. (I’m having a hard time talking about this episode without also talking about Wishmaster, so fuck it – we’re gonna talk about Wishmaster.) This Goosebumps episode predates Wishmaster, and there are similarities between the two that really have me hoping the writers of Wishmaster didn’t take their ideas from Goosebumps. That would be weird. (But all these “careful what you wish for” stories pretty much follow the same formula, so maybe there’s no cause for concern. Maybe.) So let’s get into it!

 

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Recap #31 – Full Moon Blowout – Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Phases” – ep 2.15

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Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 episode 15, “Phases”

Writers: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali

Director: Bruce Seth Green

Originally Aired: January 27, 1998

Description: Buffy and her friends discover secrets about themselves as they battle a werewolf, its hunter, and their own emotions. (From IMDb)

Nostalgia Time!


I love Buffy, y’all. Even with my less-than-stellar opinion of Joss Whedon, I still love Buffy. I have a complicated relationship with some of the problematic elements of Buffy, but this particular episode keeps those problems to a minimum. I think. Xander is still awful, because he usually is, but somewhat less so than in some other episodes. If I remember correctly, this is the first werewolf episode of the series, and even though I’m sure a lot of you guys have seen it, I’m still not going to spoil anything before its time, no worries.

I didn’t start watching Buffy until the end of Season 3, and then I mostly started watching it because I was a huge Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan, and I discovered that Armin Shimerman (Quark) played Principal Snyder on Buffy. Um, the end of Season 3 was a bad place to start watching for him, y’all. But I fell in love with the show and started watching regularly, and watching from the beginning. I think the only reason I didn’t watch it when it first started airing was because I wanted to believe I was Cool Girl™ who didn’t fall in line with mainstream girly crap. I was a judgmental idiot who had shitty opinions on things I’d never given a chance.

Anyway, Buffy, amirite, y’all?!

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Recap #10 – Full Moon Blowout: Tales From the Crypt Ep. 4.13 – “Werewolf Concerto”

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Title: Tales From the Crypt, Season 4 Episode 13 – Werewolf Concerto

Directed by: Steve Perry

Originally Aired: Sept. 9, 1992

Description: An Agatha Christie-style mystery sees the inhabitants of a remote hotel terrorized by rumors of a werewolf prowling the area. Not to fear, as a self-appointed werewolf hunter is amongst them. But might he have a dark secret of his own?

Nostalgia Time!


I love Tales From the Crypt and have seen every episode multiple times. I will argue that there are no bad Tales From the Crypt, even though that is just demonstrably not true, but that’s how much I fucking love this series. Having said that, this is one of those episodes I know I’ve seen several times, but I never remember what happens. But what’s to know, really? It’s a werewolf and werewolf hunter at a fancy lodge in the woods. Enough said? Let’s go!

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