The Most Iconic Horror Comic Book Anthology Still Scares Decades Later

By Brian Myers | Published

Horror anthology films have chilled audiences for decades with mini-movies that sometimes intertwine with a common theme or overarching plotline. Some anthologies consist of vignettes from literary sources (Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors), others from the imagination of the screenwriters (Nightmares, Body Bags). The 1972 production of Tales from the Crypt was the first horror movie sourced solely from comic books, its inspiration stemming directly from the 1950s EC comics of the same name.

The 1972 Tales From The Crypt Movie

Tales from the Crypt opens at a large cemetery in England, where tourists view the various catacombs that sprawl beneath the grounds. Five tourists wander into one crypt and are unable to leave after a stone wall closes off the only way out. A mysterious stranger (Ralph Richardson) appears to them and begins the real movie vignettes by telling each of them how they will die.

Dark Vignettes

The first segment in Tales from the Crypt, “And All Through the House,” is the story of the woman trapped with the group. She has just bludgeoned her husband to death with a fireplace poker on Christmas Eve, only to have her plans thwarted by an escaped mental patient wearing a Santa Claus suit. As her tale unfolds and ends in the movie, the other four persons stuck with her in the crypt have their tales of woe told, one by one.

Stories From The Comic Book

One gentleman has a bad car accident but is able to walk away from it to seek help. The only problem is that anyone he approaches for help sees his face and runs away, screaming in horror. Another person in Tales from the Crypt is revealed to conspire to create a cruel smear campaign that drives an elderly neighbor to suicide, only to have it backfire in the most spectacular of ways befitting of a horror movie.

Classic Tales Of Twisted Horror

Tales from the Crypt continues with one man suffering the consequences of wishes being granted, in a tale initially inspired by W. W. Jacobs’ short story “The Monkey’s Paw.” The fifth and final person is shown having a cruel fate play out at the hands of his blind charges at a hospital after they revolt against his tyranny. The movie’s vignettes are over, but the questions remain about why they are locked in the crypt and who the mysterious stranger is that seems to be either foretelling their futures or reminding them of a not-so-distant past that they perhaps forgot.

A Terrific 70s Horror Film

The Tales from the Crypt movie has all the makings of a terrific British horror film from the era: a solid cast (Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, and Roy Dotrice), real buildings instead of sets, an actual cemetery, and a haunting score. The movie’s tales are all from the comic books, but the action, dialogue, and cinematography are highly successful original vehicles for the film.

Available On Free Streaming


Tales from the Crypt shows chilling consequences for immoral actions, like a twisted Aesop fable. A year later, the movie spawned a sequel, Vault of Horror, also based on the EC Comic books. While it wasn’t the first horror movie with vignettes, the film arguably could have been the source of inspiration for The Simpsons’ annual “Treehouse of Horror” show, Hammer’s House of Horrors, and countless others.

Altogether, Tales from the Crypt is a 4.0/5.0-star movie. Great acting, eerie settings, and fascinating tales of terror at every turn make it worth watching and rewatching.

The original Tales from the Crypt movie can be streamed for free with Tubi, Roku, and Crackle or with a subscription to Fubo.