Tales from the Crypt is easily the greatest horror series ever conceived. It features top-notch production values that stem from all of Hollywood’s greatest resources. But it wasn’t your average, mainstream Hollywood production – it delved into gritty and bloody concepts that were for the longest time used only in cheaply-made grindhouse flicks. Because of this, televised horror shows became a staple of the entertainment industry, and Tales from the Crypt became a household name. No longer was it the title of a forgotten comic book series or the classic Amicus films which used the name – it was an entirely new experience.
Tales from the Crypt would later be followed by one live-action anthology series titled Perversions of Science which lasted only one season. There would also be an animated series made for kids called Tales from the Cryptkeeper, and even a game show called Secrets of the Cryptkeeper’s Haunted House. And of course, we also had a trilogy of full-length horror stories hosted by the Crypt Keeper – Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, and (the rather forgettable) Ritual.
But what about another live-action anthology series? Well, there was one planned way before Perversions of Science had the chance to adapt EC’s line of Weird Science comics. See, EC also had a comic series called Two-Fisted Tales which focused solely on creating action-oriented war stories. And it was planned for a live-action series to do the same, albeit with the intention to create all sorts of different stories rather than just war-related tales.
A pilot for the series was filmed, including wraparound sequences hosted by “Mr. Rush”, a new character played by William Sadler. Sadler would play several roles in the main Tales from the Crypt franchise, including the lead role in the first Crypt episode, so it only made sense that Sadler would have a part in this show. Unfortunately the pilot wasn’t picked up and HBO decided to switch out the Mr. Rush segments with the Crypt Keeper so they could split the pilot up into individual Tales from the Crypt episodes.
These episodes would become Showdown, King of the Road, and Yellow – all of which were action-oriented and a bit different than the usual horror fare. But they were definitely conceived with the same top-notch production values as the rest of Tales from the Crypt; and Yellow must easily have the greatest war sequences ever made for television up until that time. It makes me wonder what other stories could’ve been told.
And for the longest time I always wondered what the original pilot was as well, because I always thought it was unreleased and unseen by the public. But it turns out that wasn’t the case, and that you can actually watch the pilot with the Mr. Rush segments intact. And it’s actually quite cool to see them all combined because it makes it more like a Two-Fisted Tales movie. So, for those of you who want to watch the episodes in their original context, can do so below. Enjoy.