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Warner Home Video presents
Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Third Season (1991)

"He got me teed off while I was playing a round, so I shot a hole in Juan."
- The Crypt Keeper (John Kassir)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: March 19, 2006

Stars: John Kassir
Other Stars: Michael J. Fox, Bruce McGill, Teri Garr, Bruno Kirby, Andrew McCarthy, Mariel Hemingway, Kyle MacLachlan, Beau Bridges, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Lovitz, James Remar, John Rhys-Davies, Vanity, Whoopi Goldberg, Tim Roth, Vincent Schiavelli, Steven Weber, Brion James, Richard Jordan, Marg Helgenberger, Faye Grant, Kirk Douglas, Eric Douglas, Dan Aykroyd, Lance Henriksen
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, nudity, graphic violence)
Run Time: 06h:35m:00s
Release Date: March 21, 2006
UPC: 012569733626
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AC-B B-

DVD Review

The recent Showtime anthology series Masters of Horror was a nice foray into a genre that isn't as popular as it used to be. The granddaddy of all horror anthology series is Tales from the Crypt, HBO's E.C. Comics adaptation that aired during the late '80s and early '90s. Featuring a bevy of popular movie and TV stars headlining each episode, fans could expect uncensored gore and violence, while also being treated to a surprising plot twist nearly every time out.

Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Third Season finds the show hitting its stride. The 14 episodes in this collection are among the best the series had to offer, including The Trap (the third of the trilogy of episodes that made up the official season premiere). Directed by none other than Michael J. Fox, this is the story of the unlucky Lou (Bruce McGill) and his wife (Teri Garr), who come up with an extreme money-making scheme. There's some nice dark humor here to set the pace for the rest of the season, as Fox shows up in a cameo role and Bruno Kirby does an excellent job as a coroner who agrees to help Lou (his brother) make some money by faking his own death.

Loved To Death and Carrion Death are the other two parts of the premiere, but neither is as entertaining as The Trap. Loved To Death finds Andrew McCarthy playing an aspiring screenwriter who falls for his sexy neighbor (Mariel Hemingway), who isn't interested in him, but he thinks a love potion will change her mind. Carrion Death is the story of a robber (Kyle MacLachlan) who is handcuffed to the policeman he has just killed. One of the neat twists is that this cop has swallowed the key to his handcuffs and this odd pair is stuck together in the middle of the desert.

Abra Cadaver ups the gore quotient considerably in telling the tale of Marty (Beau Bridges) and his brother, Carl (Tony Goldwyn). After years of suffering from a medical school prank gone awry, Marty seeks his revenge on Carl, giving the phrase "brain tease" new meaning. There's even more comedy in the Jon Lovitz-led Top Billing, but we're back to the serious stuff in Dead Wait. Directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), it follows Red (James Remar), a crook who disposes of his partner, winds up working at Duval's (John Rhys-Davies) plantation, and sleeps with the big guy's girl (Vanity). Red eventually pays the price for his crooked ways, and for ignoring a voodoo priestess, Peligre (Whoopi Goldberg).

The great Malcolm McDowell shines as the title character in The Reluctant Vampire, while Tim Roth brings his typical prowess to Easel Kill Ya. Undertaking Parlor is the weakest third season entry, but the wonderful Mournin' Mess gets things back on track. This gives us Robert (Vincent Schiavelli), a homeless man who is accused of murder. He turns to investigative reporter Dale (Steven Weber) to clear his name, but neither he nor Robert are aware of how dangerous the truth really is.

Split Second is a rather cheesy episode that has its moments, thanks in large part to Brion James' (Blade Runner) performance, but Deadline is a real stand-out. This was directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors), and stars the venerable Richard Jordan. He plays Charlie McKenzie, an alcoholic reporter who falls in love with a woman (Marg Helgenberger) who puts his life back on track. Once he gets his job back, Charlie has to prove to his boss that he can produce, and he'll stop at nothing, even murder, to solidify his position.

Spoiled is a fun, sexy romp with the gorgeous Faye Grant (V), but Yellow is the best installment in this set. Robert Zemeckis helms this tale of General Kalthrob (Kirk Douglas), a World War I leader who is shamed when his son, Lieutenant Kalthrob (Eric Douglas) is proven to be a coward. The general gives his son one more chance to prove himself, but if he doesn't succeed, his fate rests in his father's hands. While the story, especially the ending, is top-notch, the awesome cast (also featuring Dan Aykroyd and Lance Henriksen) is what really sets Spoiled apart from the rest.

So, we're about halfway through the entire Tales From the Crypt collection, and in The Complete Third Season we get bigger casts, legendary directors, and more twists and turns than ever. While the aforementioned new series Masters of Horror was effective, it was inconsistent. Tales From the Crypt delivers creepy, darkly funny shows week after week, and will always serve as the model of a successful anthology horror series.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Each episode appears in its original full frame format, but are inundated with dirt, grain, and overly soft images. The color scheme is often muted as well, although there are glimpses of vivid hues. Image detail improves a bit from time to time, and shadow and contrast levels are generally solid. It's just a shame that a bit more restoration work wasn't done, especially given the high-profile status of Tales From the Crypt.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, and it suits the material just fine, closely resembling the original broadcast tracks. Everything mostly stays up front, but the surround speakers do come to life on occasion. I wasn't expecting the solid, aggressive bass presence, and the dialogue is always clear and crisp.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 84 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Crypt Jam - Music Video
Extras Review: The set contains a trio of extras, all of which can be found on Disc 3. The Crypt Jam music video is a throwaway three-minute clip, but A Tall Tales Panel: A Dissected Look at Tales from the Crypt Season 3 is an excellent piece. This 14-minute retrospective mixes clips from the show with footage from Comic Con, where a Tales from the Crypt panel discusses this season in great, candid detail.

A Tales From the Crypt Reunion: A Panel Discussion runs for 29 minutes, and is basically the entire panel session from Comic Con, without the clips and separate interviews featured in the Tall Tales Panel feature.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Although it took Warner a while, it's great to finally have three seasons (and counting) of Tales From the Crypt on DVD. The Complete Third Season is another fine collection of uncut episodes, but, like the previous two sets, the video quality is disappointing. The audio is just fine, though, and there are a couple of nice extras that help us reminisce about this season.

 


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