For some ‘90s kids, Saturday mornings were all magic and unicorns and rainbow vomit (not like that’s necessarily a bad thing). For others, like the morbid little girl I was, they were all bats, gargoyles, houses of horror, and an undead green-faced host otherwise known as the Cryptkeeper.
Whether his complexion is more green or turquoise is debatable, but the Cryptkeeper’s transition from puppet horrorshow host to creepy cartoon was pretty animated for something that just crawled out of the grave. Morphing him into 2D didn’t really change my favorite TV ghoul.
This show was pretty much the beginner's guide to horror tropes for every '90s kid who wasn't allowed to see Bram Stoker's Dracula or Interview With the Vampire (I'm still bitter about that). It's crawling with all the classic myths and legends that were meant to keep you awake long past bedtime, from vampires and werewolves and zombies to mummies that shambled out of their sarcophagi seeking vengeance. Next to Gargoyles, it was one of those rare shows that brought darkness to my Saturday mornings. Delicious darkness that tasted like sugary cereal.
For all the slithery, slimy craziness that was Tales From the Cryptkeeper, there were some frightening lessons haunting all that campy horror. If you ever trampled ants, that episode about enormous ants carrying people off might have been crawling in the back of your head. You probably never felt tempted to cave to peer pressure again after what happened when one kid was coerced into wishing on a disembodied gorilla hand. Your class bully might have thought twice about beating up anyone else after seeing that episode where the terror of the schoolyard drinks a muscle-building potion that turns him into a werewolf.
The show also echoed some eternal monsters of horror. Hardcore fans of the genre might notice the hidden odes to H.P. Lovecraft lurking throughout the series. Fish-men who cast their lines out for humans, a silver key that warps space and time, and a wax museum owner appropriately named H.P. Rottmucker are just some of the shadows the master of weird fiction has cast on this eldritch world. Of course, that’s nothing I ever would have guessed at 7 or 8 years old.
Dig up this gem from the tomb and marathon it—but preferably on a Saturday night rather than a Saturday morning.