Movie Review: Tales from the Crypt Documentary

(2004)
Directed by Chip Selby
Starring John Carpenter, Jack Davis, Digby Diehl, Al Feldstein, William M. Gaines, George Romero, Bernie Wrightson

I grew up in the late 60’s / early 70’s, so the horror comics that I remembered reading in my youth were titles like Creepy and Eerie. The moniker Tales from The Crypt was from a movie as far as I knew. Once I started really getting into horror, I kept coming across references to these comic books from the ‘50s. Eventually, I would learn a little more about what EC comics had done a good 10 years before I was born. Then when the reprints started to come out, I was able to see and enjoy these wonderfully created images and stories that caused such a roar back in the mid 50’s.

I obviously wasn’t the only one who enjoyed these comics. Whether from the reprints or when they were originally published, these comics influenced many people, including the likes of George Romero, John Carpenter, and Bernie Wrightson. But not in the way that certain people wanted you to believe that it would. People like Dr. Fredric Wertham, who would eventually cause EC Comics to stop publishing their brand of horror titles.

With this documentary, you can learn everything you wanted to know about these comics and more importantly, the people behind them. Director Chip Selby has put together a wonderful thing here, not only filling it with information about the comics, with titles like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, but it’s filled with the wonderful images from the pagers of them as well. You also get to hear from the artists themselves talking about their work and working with Bill Gaines, the man behind the comics.

This is a very important history lesson for us horror fans. Remember, these comics came out over 70 years ago, and is a very important part of the horror genre’s history. Even if you’ve never been into comics, there is some important history lesson to be learned. The talented artists that worked on creating these comics, bringing these stories to life, and making such impactful memories with the images they drew, were responsible for inspiring so many future people, from other artists to even filmmakers. Names like Jack Davis, Al Williamson, Jack Kamen, and Al Feldstein should be known to horror fans just as much as some of the horror directors we idolize. They probably gave those youngsters enough scary images to keep their appetite sated and prepared them for their future careers in filmmaking.

This documentary starts at the beginning of EC Comics when Bill Gaines takes over the company from his father. Along with Al Feldstein, they delve into horror, terror, and suspense. We hear directly from the people involved. We also get to see some actual footage of Bill Gaines addressing the Senate Hearing Committee who were trying to decide if comics were leading to juvenal delinquency.

It also follows the magazine after its demise as it rises from the grave, like one of its many ghouls featured in the pages, to be reborn on the big screen and later on the small screen in the HBO 1989 series Tales from the Crypt that ran for almost a decade. We get to hear from George Romero and John Carpenter, author R.L Stine, movie producer Joel Sliver, comic book historians Roger Hill & Jerry Weist, and many more.

As a horror fan, knowing the genre’s history is a very important part of being a fan. It helps you understand movies today, where their influences might have come from, or what might have inspired them. The series of titles that EC Comics put out back then is an important part of that history. This documentary is a great place to start that lesson!

One thought on “Movie Review: Tales from the Crypt Documentary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s