This is it, the final season of the greatest horror anthology franchise of all time. Season Seven is where it ended and it's clear The Cryptkeeper was fed up with Hollywood at this point. So, much like Al Bundy before him, he decided to take a trip to the motherland, and set off for old London town. Season Seven is an entirely British production. Unfortunately, this season is regarded as the worst. It's true, the series went out on a bad note. But if you dig you can find a couple of horror nuggets among the rubbish. Let's take a look.
*** POSSIBLE MILD SPOILERS ***
1. "Fatal Caper" - The season opener featured the great Bob Hoskins so it should have been better. This is a drama about a rich man's will and the lengths his family will go to collect on it. I consider this a weak episode. The twist at the end had been done before in the previous season and was laughable. 1 and half Stars.
2. "Last Respects" - In contrast to the bore that was the opener, "Last Respects" is a killer. It's about 3 young ladies that own an occult shop. They find a cursed monkey paw, and let's face it, how could you go wrong from there. I like this installment quite a bit. 4 Stars.
3. "A Slight Case of Murder" - And now on PBS, a British thriller starring Mrs. Doubtfire as a mystery author. Oh wait, I thought this was HBO, I thought I was watching Tales From The Crypt. Awful. 1 and a half Stars.
4. "Escape" - This is a somewhat OK episode about POW's in WWII. But it doesn't necessarily feel like TFTC. By the appalling standards of Season Seven, however, this is actually pretty good. 3 Stars.
5. "Horror In The Night" - Imagine if one of the jewel thieves in Snatch had been shot and later died in a hotel room and went to Hell. Then you'd have "Horror In The Night". This is one of the top episodes of this set. A bit surreal, which can be hit or miss with this series. But very entertaining. 3 and a half Stars.
6. "Cold War" - The one classic episode of Season Seven. This, like I have said about past classic episodes, has all the elements to create a great TFTC. Horror, comedy, crime, zombies, vampires. "Cold War" feels like a Tales, the opening features a holdup and shootout at a gas station and it is true to the harsh violence you find in the US epsiodes. Extremely well done. Ewan McGregor stars, looking much like how you would expect Rentboy to look if he had never kicked the smack. 5 Stars.
7. "The Kidnapper" - The first few minutes make this look like it's going to be good. A masked man is creeping around a baby stroller in a park. But it immediately falls apart and becomes garbage. 1 Star.
8. "Report From the Grave" - Another pretty good one about a university student who invents the technology to read the memories of the dead. Like most of this season, it suffers from being slow-moving and subdued. But there are some interesting parts set in a graveyard. One of the creepier installments this season. 3 and a half Stars.
9. "Smoke Wrings" - One of the worst Tales From The Crypts ever. This one plays like a bad Tales From The Darkside. It's got Daniel Craig as an executive who develops mind control advertisements. This is truly terrible but I'm going to give it 1 Star based purely on the intro and outro of The Cryptkeeper. At this point you wonder if he was exiled from his homeland due to the atrocious nature of Season Six, and just stopped trying. What a lame episode. 1 Star.
10. "About Face" - Oh jeez, another very dark, very quiet, very slow-moving yawn-fest. You might want to skip right to the final chapter on the DVD because the twist, as mild as it is, is the only thing interesting here. 1 and a half Stars.
11. "Confession" - This is the last good live-action TFTC episode. This one's got Eddie Izzard as a filmmaker under suspicion for brutal serial killings where the victims are found beheaded. Most people seem to think it's the best episode of the season, but for me that distinction goes to Trainspotting 2: Smackhead Zombies. The twist at the end has the irony you'd expect of an Eddie Izzard TFTC episode, and is quite well done. 4 Stars.
12. "Ear Today... Gone Tomorrow" - This is an incoherent edition of Tales about a safecracker under interrogation by torturers. Sounds promising, but it's not, it's wretched. I hate this episode. It's stupid. 1 Star.
13. "The Third Pig" - So that's it, "Ear Today..." was the final live-action episode. By now you're probably feeling that the real spirit of the series died a long time before that. More like at the end of Season Five. So for the series finale we've got an animated episode. This particular Cryptkeeper cartoon, however, would not be on network TV on Saturday morning, because it is R-rated. It's a variation of the 3 pigs fable done TFTC style. It's one of the best episodes of the season even though it's not a 'real' TFTC. Actually, if I really wanted to get into it, I'd mention that the series deserved something far more grand as a finale. The cartoon is cute, but the TFTC finale deserved something huge, like an homage to an old House of Dracula film done 90s style. Oh well, wasted potential. 4 Stars.
My biggest complaint about Season Seven is that it does not feel like Tales. TFTC is very American. It's trashy, loud and bright. There's a sense of humor that doesn't always translate with the British episodes. This season looks like it should be on PBS. It's too quiet and slow-moving.
One thing I always wonder about the real bad episodes. Why not just choose a better story? Are you telling me TFTC was lacking of good horror stories from their multitude of different titles, and their massive archive of back issues? It's mind-boggling that you sit through trash like some of the ones that appear here, when there are probably hundreds of stories that AT LEAST would have contained more elements of horror.
At least from Season Six and Seven you can cobble together one decent 13 episode final season. From here, you move on to the 2 TFTC films: Bordello of Blood and Demon Knight, which are both marvelous. Then there's Tales From the Cryptkeeper, the Saturday morning cartoon spin-off. If you don't have them, you'll also want to grab the first 2 Creepshow films, because they were the precursor to TFTC. TFTC was originally planned to be Creepshow 3. And then there's the actual Creepshow 3, which was released as Tales From the Darkside: The Movie. That's another 3 chapters that fit in perfectly with this whole EC Horror Anthology Universe.