Bloody Good Show: “Tales From the Crypt” (1972)


     Sometimes, one cultural form takes decades longer to reach a path on which another has already tread. In the case of American film, the restrictions produced by the inflexible Production Code meant that what was more freely expressed in other artistic forms, most prominently in both literature and theater, was generally castigated of content that was offensive to the Catholic-based moral strictures of the Hays Office authority. Themes found provocative, usually dealing with the sexual (especially what was considered aberrant, i.e. homosexuality) and the morally depraved (curiously, this was not exclusive to criminal or blatantly antisocial behaviors, but also included such domestic indiscretions as adultery or, in the case of the more perversely myopic stretches of Production Code moralizing: miscegenation) were banished outright as cinematic content unless the materials were reworked in heavily disguised fashion to obliterate overt hints of “moral depravity” from the film: thus leading interesting avenues open for the advancement of genres that were able to transmute the offending content more easily within their specific stylized characteristics- film noir, the advent of the “adult” western and even the musical form.

    Subject to later, but no less strenuous external creative pressures was the comics industry, which was criticized and castigated by fervent crusaders as a detriment to the youth of the nation; the campaign of negativity finding its fullest expression in the infamous 1954 book by Frederic Wertham M.D., “Seduction of the Innocent” which blamed what the author saw as a growing danger of depraved juveniles running rampant under the influence of zombies, eye-gouging villains and the sexual subtext (as he saw it) of, amongst others, a presumed lesbian Wonder Woman, and presumed homosexual partners Batman and Robin. With this book as a fuel for moralistic hysteria, coupled with hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, the industry was forced into accepting their own version of the motion picture Production Code, the self-regulating, censorial board, the Comics Code Authority, which exists in a symbolic sense, if no other, to this very day. The CAA effectively banned graphic depictions of violence and mayhem, removing the very source of EC comics’ widespread appeal, and forcing them to cease publication of their most successful titles.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
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2 Responses to Bloody Good Show: “Tales From the Crypt” (1972)

  1. I love Tales From the Crypt in all of its iterations. I’ve read not nearly enough of the actual comics, but I loved this film, as well as the HBO show. In, I think, the early ’90s, there was a cartoon called Tales from the Cryptkeeper. It was really good, as it found a great balance between Saturday Morning Cartoon and the series’ macabre essence.

    P.S. I just saw your Curse of the Demon addition. I watched that film for the first time today. Loved it.

    • “Tales From the Crypt” was one of the great movie pleasures in the teen years, as it was like seeing five films at the same time- something attempted at a drive-in during a “Planet of the Apes” marathon where lightning storms and an uncooperative dawn sun did their best to interfere with the process. I can appreciate Saturday Morning kid programming mixed with bizarre as I was sustained on a steady diet of “Tarzan”, “Jungle Jim” and Creature Double Feature film presentations. “Curse of the Demon” is my favorite horror film so I’m glad you’ve finally had the chance to see it. I could get immersed into week long arguments over whether or not it mattered to show the demon. so don’t get me started.

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