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Warner Home Video presents
Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Fourth Season (1992)

"You didn't know your old friend the Crypt Keeper was the boo-it-yourself type, did you?"
- The Crypt Keeper (John Kassir)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: July 24, 2006

Stars: John Kassir
Other Stars: Dylan McDermott, Christopher Reeve, Tom Hanks, Treat Williams, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tia Carrere, Heavy D, Yul Vazquez, Beverly D'Angelo, Paul Hipp, Brad Pitt, Adam Ant, Marshall Teague, Timothy Dalton, Margot Kidder, Mimi Rogers
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language, graphic violence, sexual situations)
Run Time: 06h:16m:00s
Release Date: July 25, 2006
UPC: 012569753853
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+C+B B-

DVD Review

Amidst the sudden outburst of new anthology horror series, it's good to know that we can continue to revisit the best of the bunch, Tales From the Crypt. While everyone's talking about Masters of Horror or Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Warner Home Video gives us another collection of the granddaddy of them all. The Complete Fourth Season brings the 14 episodes that aired in 1992 to DVD for the first time.

Die-hard fans call this season one the best the show has to offer, and such a notion is difficult to argue with, as it is one that boasts more big-name directors and actors, including Dylan McDermott, Christopher Reeve, and Tom Hanks. You would think that by its fourth season the series would grow at least somewhat tiresome, but its ability to stay fresh is a testament not only to the people behind the scenes, but also to the essence of the anthology format. It's extremely difficult to keep a linear storyline going week in and week out, but when you're working with a deluge of stand-alone, always engaging horror tales, it's much easier to make the little things work.

The first of the Crypt Keeper's (John Kassir) tales is None But the Lonely Heart, which features one of the more eclectic casts in the show's history, showcasing Treat Williams in the lead role, Sugar Ray Leonard as a gravedigger, and Tom Hanks as the manager of a dating service. As always, the story is darkly funny and has a whopper of a twist ending.

This'll Kill Ya follows the rich George Catlin (Dylan McDermott), who heads a pharmaceutical company and tends to lie about when their new products will be ready. A pair of employees teach him a lesson that he'll never forget in this somewhat predictable, but very satisfying tale. On a Deadman's Chest finds The Exorcist's William Friedkin directing the likes of Tia Carrere and Heavy D through the story of rocker Danny Darwin (Yul Vazquez). Danny fronts a band called Exorcist, and when his lead guitarist Nick (Paul Hipp) marries Scarlet (Carrere) and gets a unique tattoo, things begin to go very wrong. This episode is a mixed bag, as while the premise and payoff are good, the performers are unappealing.

The next two episodes, Sťance and Beauty Rest are really the only disappointments. Both stories, involving a lawyer/con man and jealousy among models respectively, are stiff, and feature drab, predictable endings. Fortunately, these are followed by one of the better entries, What's Cookin'. Starring Christopher Reeve as Fred, this tale is equally funny and creepy, offering a Soylent Green-like storyline. It doesn't get much creepier than The New Arrival, though, thanks to one scene in particular, that involves an unforgettable mask.

Showdown is an episode with a pedigree that is miles above the others in this set. Not only is David Morse among the cast, but this great story of the Old West is written by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) and directed by Richard Donner (Superman). King of the Road is one of Brad Pitt's early projects, but the overall story is lacking—until the end, that is. Another excellent director, John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), helms Maniac at Large. Adam Ant is this installment's lead and he does an excellent job in one of the more cerebral stories.

Split Personality finds famed FX guru Kevin Yagher making his directorial debut with this story of an evil puppet, while Werewolf Concerto features great performances by Timothy Dalton and the lovely Beverly D'Angelo. Season Four comes to a close with Curiosity Killed. This features another Superman-alum, Margot Kidder, as the elderly Cynthia, who along with her husband Frank (Marshall Teague) stumbles upon a fountain of youth. While we can see the repercussions of such a discovery coming a mile away, this is still a nice way to close out the season, thanks in large part to Kidder's work.

There we have it, boys and ghouls, another 14 episodes out of the TFTC vault and onto our DVD shelves. While fans waited many years for even a single episode of the series to appear on the format, these season sets are now coming at us without much lag time between them. I say, keep 'em coming, Warner, as you won't find many horror nuts that can get enough of watching the memorable intro and seeing The Crypt Keeper pop up out of his coffin to spin another horrific tale.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: All 14 shows are, once again, in their original format, but this time some of the grain and dirt is cleaned up. We get more muted color palettes that do have their moments, and image detail is variable as well. Again, it's difficult to expect a whole lot from this older show, but nice to see an improvement over the Season Three transfers.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Each episode has a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, and things sound pretty close to their original broadcast quality. The best aspect of these tracks is that they are blemish-free, especially where the dialogue is concerned. The rest of the sound stays up front for the most part, and features a decent, if not very aggressive, bass presence.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 70 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by What's Cookin' - The Crypt Keeper, Alan Katz, and Digby Diehl.
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This three-disc set includes a couple of extra features. The first is an audio commentary track for the episode What's Cookin', with the Crypt Keeper as well as writer Alan Katz and series chronicler Digby Diehl. This trio talks in great detail about how this episode was produced, but John Kassir is the main reason to give this a listen, thanks to his liveliness.

Also here is a three-minute featurette exploring The Stars of Season Four. The Crypt Keeper serves as our host, basically giving us a quick rundown on the stars, which include a young Brad Pitt.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Get your wallets out, horror buffs, as Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Fourth Season is now available on DVD. Warner Home Video continues to keep things consistent with their treatment of the series, but, unfortunately, that means not much in the way of extras. The package does benefit from improved (over the previous sets) video transfers, and adequate audio mixes, though.

 


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