Tales From The Crypt was destined to go beyond its comic book origins. When you have a series which started off as an unrelated section of Crime Patrol and grew popular enough to take over the comic completely, there’s no other conclusion you can reach. Perhaps that’s why a live-action photograph of the “GhouLunatics” was staged years before Amicus tried their hand at adapting EC Comics titles. Once it was adapted into the television series we all know and love, its success naturally prompted spin-offs. The next logical step was to make the jump back into feature films. The original plan was for a trilogy of three loosely connected films, starting with a zombie tale called “Dead Easy” (aka “Fat Tuesday”). Things didn’t quite end up working out that way.
The trilogy actually started out with Demon Knight, a project whose script actually predated the Tales From The Crypt TV series and had been originally intended on be the second film in the trilogy. Why the change? Apparently the script for “Dead Easy” was deemed too scary to work as a Tales From The Crypt movie! However, Demon Knight had a post-credits scene where the Crypt Keeper plugs his upcoming film “Dead Easy” (which was only seen in theaters), so it wasn’t out of the running just yet. So what was going to be the next installment? The planned third installment “Body Count” was put aside at some point and The Frighteners was seriously considered to be the next installment, but the next film ended up being Bordello of Blood. Although it shared the “Blood Key” prop with Demon Knight, the box office take was drastically different. I’m personally not surprised that it failed, given that the wraparound segments were a lame reworking of the host segments from an episode of the television series. Plans for the next film were quickly put on hold, and that’s where things start to get murky…
The third film ended up being Ritual, a remake of the horror classic I Walked With a Zombie. However, it’s not quite clear whether or not it was originally intended to be part of the Tales From The Crypt film series. When it first came out on DVD in 2006, the story I heard was that it was a preexisting film that had been deemed unreleasable in America on its own (however, it had played theatrically in other countries in 2001) and had some Crypt Keeper segments hastily put together in order to make it more marketable. However, most online sources claim it had originally started out as a Tales From The Crypt movie and had all references to the series removed after the poor performance of Bordello of Blood. If true, the decision not to include the “Blood Key” from other other two installments in the series was a confusing choice on their part.
In any case, it can probably be agreed the trilogy ended with a whimper, not a bang. While I imagine that Ritual is stronger plot-wise than Bordello of Blood, the descriptions of the Crypt Keeper segments don’t fill me with any confidence that they live up to the standards set by Demon Knight (or the TV series). Although the series is over, the Crypt Keeper is still making appearances. Maybe one day someone will dust off the scripts for “Dead Easy” or “Body Count” and give the film series the send-off it truly deserves.