Countdown to Halloween #18: The Cryptkeeper

From comic books to television to movies – The Cryptkeeper has been a constant in the genre for over 60 years. Originating in EC’s Crime Patrol #15 in 1949, the Cryptkeeper would become the most famous of EC Comic’s ghoulish trio of hosts (with The Vault-Keeper and The Old Witch) as he would go on to star in their Tales from the Crypt comics for the next few years following his debut. That was until 1954 upon the release of The Seduction of the InnocentA true study in 1950s paranoia, the book chronicles psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s assertion that near all delinquent behavior in America could be traced back to the evil that was comic books. The stir caused by this book resulted in the industry’s self-imposed ‘Comics Code Authority‘ which essentially de-toothed comics, turning Batman from a creature of the night into a glorified boy scout, and all but killing EC Comics and their horror themed books.

So after the cancellation of the comic in 1955, the Cryptkeeper went almost two decades before popping back up in the 1972 film Tales from the Crypt, which featured five short stories which were taken from the old EC comics: The Vault of Horror 35, The Haunt of Fear 12 & 22, and Tales from the Crypt 23 & 46.

Played by Ralph Richardson, this movie marked the first appearance of the character outside the confines of the classic horror books. It wouldn’t be the last though…

The version of the character we are most familiar with today is that of the HBO show’s host, voiced by John Kassir. For 94 episodes from 1989-1996 The Cryptkeeper introduced murderer after murderer in a weekly delve into the horror genre. This show was about as full of as big name guest stars and directors as you can imagine – everyone wanted to be involved with the Cryptkeeper.

During the run of the show ABC also aired Tales from the Cryptkeeper, a Saturday morning version of the character for the kiddies, again voiced by Kassir, but this time severely toned down. The show marked the return of the Old Witch and the Vault-Keeper who would constantly challenge for hosting duties. It was later relaunched under the This served to introduce a whole generation of kids to the classic characters in a manner that primed them to catch late night reruns of the show in later years.

And while the cartoon would last only 26 episodes in its initial run, it did set the table for the trilogy of movies that would be released between 1995 and 2001.

Between the Demon Knight poster than hung in my room for over a decade and the absolute lust love I had for Sports Illustrated Model/Bordello of Blood star Angie Everhart – I was hooked at an early age…

At 13, this was the greatest thing I’d ever seen…

Anyhow, back on topic – Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood put old Crypty back on the big screen, but Ritual went straight to DVD. And that was the last we’d seen of him in a while. That was at least until news broke last summer that the show could be returning, and while we haven’t heard much about it since then, the Cryptkeeper is back on TV in syndication. FEARnet started airing the old episodes on October 5th, and will run through the whole show in order.

So from comics to film to TV to Animation and back to film, with a possible return to TV, this is one of the most dynamic characters on our whole list. 

Keep an eye out, another character on the Countdown will be revealed at every night at 12:01 am for the rest of the month. You’ll also be able to find them HERE.

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