Tales from the Crypt first came to HBO back in 1989. The series ran for a total of seven seasons, all of which were introduced by the Crypt Keeper. Tales from the Crypt was an anthology horror series much like Goosebumps or Tales from the Darkside, that told a different chilling tale each week.
Most of the episodes were adaptations of the 1950s EC Comics, but not all of the episodes were well-received by fans. The series ended in 1996 after 93 episodes, resulting in an average IMDb score of 8.0 out of 10. How were individual episodes received on the site, though? Here are the best and worst installments of the show, by IMDb ranking.
10 Best: "Death of Some Salesmen" - 8.0
One of the highest-rated episodes of Tales From the Crypt was “Death of Some Salesmen.” The episode was not only directed by one of the show’s long-running producers, Gilbert Adler, but it also had some big-name actors in the starring roles. The episode stars Ed Begley Jr. as a con-man named Judd who travels around as a salesman.
Judd first visits a woman named Mrs. Jones, who is played by Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster from The Munsters). The episode also stars Tim Curry, who plays Ma and Pa Brackett. Like most Tales From the Crypt episodes, this episode has a twist which ends with the Bracketts conning Judd.
9 Worst: "The Pit" - 5.6
On the other end of the spectrum is the episode “The Pit.” This episode aired during the show’s sixth season and is also one of the worst-rated episodes of the series. The episode opens with two boxers fighting each other, which ultimately ends in a tie. The wives of the fighters are equally competitive and make a deal to get their husbands a lead role in a 20th Century Fox film called The Pulverizer.
The winner of the fight gets the lead in the movie and $100 million, while the loser will die but gets $10 million for his wife. The women get tricked into fighting by their husbands and they soon realize that they are actually the stars of a film called The Pulverizers.
8 Best: "Abra Cadaver" - 8.0
The fourth episode of Season 3 is another one of the best-rated episodes of Tales From the Crypt. It revolves around Martin Fairbanks, who was on his way to becoming a surgeon before his brother played a prank on him that ruined his career.
After being demoted to a research assistant, Martin begins to research a serum that causes the body to basically play dead. Martin tries to get revenge on his brother Carl, but things don’t go exactly to plan. This was also one of the episodes that was adapted straight from a comic book: Tales From the Crypt #37 to be exact.
7 Worst: "Report From The Grave" - 5.6
To fans' dismay, Tales From the Crypt ended after seven seasons. Unfortunately, the final season ended up being one of the worst seasons to date, partly because of the episode “Report From the Grave.” This episode starred James Frain as a scientist who wants to learn how to read the memories of dead people.
Eventually, Frain successfully builds a machine that allows him to do so and tries to read the memories of a deceased serial killer. This episode got a lot of complaints about being confusing, due to its poor editing, storyline, and overall direction.
6 Best: "Television Terror" - 8.2
Jumping back to one of the highlights of the series, it's the episode “Television Terror” from season 2. In this episode, a television crew explores a haunted house while live on the air. The house is notorious for housing victims of Ada Ritter: a caretaker who killed her patients to collect their money. As the television crew film the inside of the house, ghosts start to appear, one of which kills a cameraman.
The host of the show then sees a ghost holding the camera, but before he can escape, the ghost kills him and throws him through a window. Despite the graphic content, the fictional producers are thrilled, since the horror of it all boosted the show's ratings.
5 Worst: "Smoke Wrings" - 5.5
Before Daniel Craig would become known as James Bond, he appeared in an episode of Tales From the Crypt called “Smoke Wrings” in 1996. Craig’s character, Barry, has gotten his hands on a device that can control people’s thoughts, which becomes incredibly handy in his advertising company.
What Barry doesn’t know is that his partner is actually working with his boss to test the device on him, to see how well it really works. Despite Craig’s performance and jokes about The Godfather from the Cryptkeeper, the episode used too much cheap humor that detracted from the clever plot.
4 Best: "Yellow" - 8.3
Season 3 episode 14, titled “Yellow,” takes viewers back to World War I, where a father and son are working in the military as a general and lieutenant. While General Kalthrob is a brave man who is good at his job, his son Lt. Kalthrob is a coward who is often called “Yellow.”
After Lt. Kalthrob leaves his men to die on the battlefield, the general has no choice but to order his son to death by firing squad. Visiting his son in prison, the general tells his son he will load the soldiers’ guns with blanks so that he can fake his death, but only if he faces the firing squad bravely. Unfortunately for Lt. Kalthrob, his father didn’t keep his word, as he considered it more important that his son die with confidence then live as a coward.
3 Worst: "Whirlpool" - 5.4
The episode “Whirlpool” from Season 6 begins with an interesting premise, as an artist loses her job at EC Comics. Rolanda is shot by the police, only to end up living the same day over and over again (similar to the idea of the film Groundhog Day). "Whirlpool" ends when it is revealed that the entire episode was a comic book and that Rolanda is actually the boss at the comic company.
Some didn’t enjoy the episode, due to its campy comedy and predictability. The episode also happens to be a shorter Tales From the Crypt installment (coming in around 20 minutes compared to 30), so there could also be the argument that this story wasn’t really strong enough for a full episode.
2 Best: "What’s Cookin’" - 8.5
The sixth episode of Season 4 immediately grabbed people’s attention, since it featured Superman star Christopher Reeve. In “What’s Cookin,’” Reeve is the owner of a restaurant that only serves squid. Customers aren’t taking to his menu, so Gaston suggests a BBQ menu after the landlord named Chumley intimidates Fred.
Fred ends up killing Chumley and even uses his body as meat for the new BBQ. Gaston tries to blackmail Fred, which doesn’t go over well as he ends up being burned alive by Fred and his associates. Everyone has their favorite episode of Tales From the Crypt, but “What’s Cookin’” boasts the highest score of any of them, with an 8.5 on IMDb.
1 Worst: "The Kidnapper" - 5.2
Yet another lackluster episode from Season 7, it's "The Kidnapper.” After a pawn shop owner falls in love with a pregnant woman, he sets out to get rid of her child so that he can spend as much time as possible with his new lover.
This backfires on Danny (played by Steve Coogan), as his partner Teresa is, of course, deeply affected by his actions. Danny then tries to kidnap another baby for her, but the episode ends with a cheap conclusion as Danny is beaten to death by community members. Dark humor tends to be the show's style, but this episode was simply dark and uncomfortable.