Good evening boils and ghouls, how much do you know about HHN Orlando’s first icon? Well anyone who has even the mildest interest in horror movies knows immediately who The Crypt Keeper is. Most famous for his HBO show Tales From The Crypt which aired from 1989 through 1996 (and later on Fox). HBO ran 93 episodes and most of the episodes were based on the original comic book series from the 1950’s. Because Tales From The Crypt aired on a premium channel (HBO) they were not held to the censorship rules of the networks. This gave HBO the freedom to show sexually suggestive scenes as well as profanity, gore and nudity. Once the show began to air on syndication and basic cable channels it was edited to remove that content so it could be aired.
The Crypt Keeper was a freaky looking ghoul that appeared to open and introduce the show and end the show with wise-cracking ghoulish themed jokes. One of his trademark wisecracks was addressing the audience and “boils and ghouls”. As mentioned, HBO did not invent the character. In actuality the Crypt Keeper was around for decades before the HBO show was aired.
The Crypt Keeper got his start in the 1950’s with the horror comic series titled, Tales From The Crypt produced by EC comics. Though it is the same character, he looked a lot different in those days. On the HBO series he was a decayed skin and bones character. In the comic The Crypt Keeper was an evil looking old man with wild eyes, long white hair and a smile that could send chills down your spine. He was often pictured holding the skeleton of some dearly departed soul and he generally seemed happy to do so.
In 1972 there was a movie version starring Joan Collins and Peter Cushing (and a few other folks). The 1989 Tales From The Crypt gave rise to a couple of feature films that aired in the mid-1990’s called Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood.
The success of the Tales From The Crypt rebirth spawned an animated series aimed to entertain children which was produced by Nelvana and aired on ABC on Saturday mornings. The content of the shows were edited and rewritten in a child friendly format. Nelvana hired a child psychologist to review the cartoon before it was released. The content restrictions were stricter at that time. Though the puppet was considered for the show, it was deemed too scary and a gentler Crypt Keeper was introduced (only for the cartoon version).
Halloween Horror Nights V
In 1995, Universal Studios licensed the character “The Crypt Keeper” which became the face of Halloween Horror Nights V (subtitled Curse Of The Crypt Keeper). Halloween Horror Nights V was the fifth annual event of that name held in Orlando Florida at Universal Studios. The idea of using and event icon,”The Cryptkeeper” (their spelling) from a popular horror show was new and became an instant success. It was well understood that anything associated with The Crypt Keeper meant horror. The character would flash across the screen in their advertising sending people racing to the event. The on screen Crypt Keeper is a puppet operated by master puppeteer, Van Snowden. The voice of The Crypt Keeper is the voice of actor Johnny Kassir.
Halloween Horror Nights V featured three mazes and two scare-zones complete with enough terror to chill the most hardened heart. In October of 1995 Halloween Horror Nights V produced three shows a night and ran for 12 nights. No matter which show one attended, the lines would be long and the customers were not disappointed.
The Crypt Keeper Bio
In the episode titled “Lower Berth” the birth of The Crypt Keeper was explained. It seems his father was Enoch, a two-faced sideshow freak. His mother was a 4,000 year old Mummy.
The final episode entitled “Oils well that ends well” The Crypt Keeper makes reference to one of the actors that he found especially talented. He was actually referring to Johnny Kassir, which is the same Johnny Kassir that is the voice of The Crypt Keeper.
He has made his way back to Orlando’s HHN on numerous occasions starring in many anniversary scarezones. Did you ever manage to get your photo with him?
There have been many shows that tried to follow on the apron strings of Tales From The Crypt. Some had minor success, but nothing close to the original. There have been radio shows which released a series of shows with the title and sounds of the original, but it was short lived. DVD’s were released many of which were purchased by collectors. Some of the DVD’s feature the original Crypt Keeper though some actually feature a different Crypt Keeper.
The Crypt Keeper was a global success and it was aired around the world. In Germany a box set of DVD’s went on sale beginning with season one in 2010. Tales From The Crypt has been nominated for (and the winner of) various awards from all aspects of the film industry. The final series of the show was moved to Britain and revolved around British actors.
There is a new ‘Tales from the Crypt’ reboot currently being planned by thriller/horror aficionado M. Night Shyamalan, but supposedly the Keeper we know will not be present. Shyamalan said on Twitter, “I’d never make Tales without the CK! Will be a new take on him as the puppet is property of HBO. Promise he’ll be cool and dark!” But knowing this director, this could just be a double-bluff; a type of twist that the old Crypt Keeper himself would be very proud of.
Do you remember the glamorous ghoul – the master of scareamonies and would you be excited for this new series? And could it one day make its way back to HHN?