Tales from the Crypt: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Warner Bros
Various writers and directors
1994-1995, Region 1 (NTSC), 370 minutes, Unrated
DVD released July 24, 2007
Debuting its first season in 1989, "Tales from the Crypt" became a fast favorite of horror fans everywhere (those, at least, with HBO, or access to the show).
With each episode promising diabolical deaths, buckets of blood, the occasional boobie, recognizable stars and well known directors, "Crypt" was a can't lose recipe.
This sixth season of "Crypt" returned with stars such as Catherine O'Hara (Best in Show), Miguel Ferrer ("Stephen King's 'The Stand'"), and John Lithgow (Cliffhanger) and directors such as Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers) and Robert Zemeckis (What Lies Beneath). Hell, the final episode even worked in Humphrey Bogart!
Could it live up to the promise of the seasons before it?
The sixth season of "Crypt" was one season shy of cancellation.
Some TV shows know when to call it quits. Shows like "Seinfeld" ended at just the right time, rather than being forced into an ugly retirement.
Some TV shows get canned way too early. Shows like "Freaks & Geeks" have had their legs cut from under them before they ever got up and running.
And some TV shows don't know when it's time to quit, and become hard to watch because you are hoping the magic that once made them so good might just be in this episode, like "The X-Files." And "Tales from the Crypt."
The biggest thing that is missing from this sixth season of "Crypt" is the excellent writing that was such a huge part of it in its previous seasons. One thing you were always guaranteed in the past years was there was always an antagonist. And, should I plug my review from Season One with a quote, "…the antagonist always got his or hers in the end. Always." But the problem with this sixth season is, while someone always gets his or hers in the end, it's questionable whether or not they deserved it. In some episodes, you even wonder if the "right" person "got it." This is most apparent in the episode "In the Groove," which stars Miguel Ferrer as Gary, a DJ trying to get from under the shadow of his dead, overbearing mother and his sister, Rita (Wendie Malick) — who co-owns the radio station and is doing a fine job of keeping Gary down. Gary, of course, eventually snaps and sets a plan in motion to take care of his sister. By the end of the episode, you have to wonder if the right person got their just desserts. And there are quite a few episodes like this.
Part of it is certainly the writing. The antagonists just aren't as clear cut as the previous seasons, and with a show such as "Crypt," it's imperative that they are. "Crypt" isn't supposed to be a deep, thought provoking show. You watch it to see who's going to die, and how. It should be cut and dry. And when you are left scratching your head contemplating whether or not the right person ate it, the show is failing you.
Because of this, many of the 15 episodes were rather mediocre, without a powerhouse in the bunch. Even the final episode, "You Murderer," directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring John Lithgow, Isabella Rossellini and a digitized Humphrey Bogart fell a little flat. One of the most memorable episodes back in the day, due to the use of the technology that brought Bogart back to life, it's quite dated now, and feels a little hokey. And that's a shame, because of all the episodes in the sixth season, "You Murderer" is the one that felt most like an episode of "Crypt" past. The roles were clear, the writing solid and the death ironic.
Not all the episodes are mediocre. A few rise just above it and, while their endings might be a bit disappointing, the chunk of them can be fun. There are a few fun episodes in the mix. Two of my favorites of the season are "The Assassin" and "Comes the Dawn."
"The Assassin," a tale of a crew of assassins sent to take out, well, an assassin, is pretty damn enjoyable because of, wait for it, Corey Feldman. Playing Todd, a quirky hitman, his over-the-top performance is a blast to watch. And his rapport with fellow assassins William (Jonathan Banks – "Wise Guy") and Simone (Chelsea Field – The Birds II: Lands End) is unbeatable.
"Comes the Dawn" is a sweet little revenge tale setup in Alaska. Starring Bruce Payne (Highlander: Endgame) and Michael Ironside (Scanners), "Comes the Dawn" has a sweet, gruesome ending that seemed a little dark, even by "Crypt" standards. And in that mix, I made a punny, for those of you who've seen it.
Yet, sadly, even with those few enjoyable episodes, watching this second-to-last season, it's not really a shocker that "Tales from the Crypt" never made it to eight.
Video and Audio:
Frustratingly enough, this is Warner Bros.' best looking season. It's important with a show based on a comic book that colors be bright and vivid, and they are. There is a bit of softness to some episodes, but it never distracts from the viewing experience.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is crisp and clean, with everything coming through loud and clear.
15 episodes. 15 chances to snag someone for a commentary or four. So what do we get for special features? "Whirl," a virtual comic book. Yeah, after watching all those real life episodes, you can sit down and enjoy a static image moving and shaking across the screen.
"Sucks" does not begin to cover it.
As a big fan of the "Tales from the Crypt" series, it pains me that it's hard for me not to recommend this as a buy. Certainly, there are completists like me out there who simply must have it to complete their collections, but for the casual fan, it's only a rental.