Last year, it was announced that the cult-favorite horror series Tales From The Crypt would be getting a reboot from TNT, and even better, M. Night Shyamalan was attached to produce and direct some of the reboot's episodes. This signaled a welcome return to form for the director, and gave fans of the original show assurance that only well-known horror talents would be brought on board.
TNT Buries The Crypt Keeper
According to Deadline, TNT has put the new Tales from the Crypt on hold to prioritize a new science fiction series produced by Ridley Scott. The reason for this shift in priorities was brought about by the lengthy legal battle that TNT had to deal with when the studio announced their reboot of the horror anthology series.
Kevin Reilly, the president of TNT, explained his decision to let go of the much-anticipated Tales from the Crypt reboot:
“That one [the 'Tales from the Crypt' reboot] got really caught up in a complete legal mess unfortunately with a very complicated underlying rights structure. We lost so much time, so I said, ‘Look, I’m not waiting around four years for this thing’."
The original show, which aired on HBO from 1989 to 1996, is based on the EC Comics of the same name, and TNT has been having trouble securing the rights to the characters and stories told in the Tales from the Crypt comics. TNT failed to find a compromise with EC, hence the studio's decision to focus on other projects for the time being.
This turn of events may be surprising to some since TNT released a teaser trailer and featurette (which can be viewed below) promoting their upcoming horror anthology, which was slated to be released this year. It should be noted that this was shown when the legal issues seemed to be going in an ideal route that kept TNT optimistic.
TNT envisioned the rebooted Tales from the Crypt to be a part of a new horror block, with Shyamalan leading the charge. Shyamalan has voiced his passion for the project, and his desire to bring the Crypt Keeper, who he described as a "dark Walt Disney," to life on the small screen.
A Post-Mortem Look At The Reboot
When Tales from the Crypt first aired in 1989, it was a horror-themed show that was in a league of its own. Due in part to it being aired on HBO, Tales from the Crypt was given the freedom to show things that are almost always censored on regular cable TV, such as gore, nudity, profanity and violence. This gave the show an added edge, and this made fans out of viewers who had initial doubts.
Tales from the Crypt was so popular that not only did it run for seven seasons on HBO, but it also spawned three spin-off movies (two theatrical features and one direct-to-video), an animated series, radio shows and even a game show.
Perhaps the most famous legacy of the show is the titular Crypt Keeper himself, who was voiced by John Kassir. The decaying corpse with a penchant for storytelling is remembered for his high-pitched laughter and morbid yet corny puns, all of which added to the show's appeal. Kassir's take on the Keeper is so iconic that his absence in Shyamalan's reboot caused an uproar among fans.
Shyamalan later explained that as much as he'd love to bring back the Keeper that fans know and love, he couldn't due to legal roadblocks such as HBO's ownership of that character's specific incarnation. Instead, Shyamalan opted to use the Crypt Keeper as seen in the comics, who looks more like a human being than HBO's shambling corpse.
While this latest development for TNT's reboot may be disheartening, it's not the end of the line for the Crypt Keeper. In the same interview with Deadline shown earlier, Reilly clarified that he too, like excited boils and ghouls who were eager to see the Crypt Keeper return, hopes that the cancellation of Tales from the Crypt is temporary:
"I haven’t ruled it out. We don’t have a specific property today but we’re open to it."
Tales from the Crypt could see a new lease on life if TNT and EC iron out an agreement, or if another studio picks up Shyamalan's pitch. Only time will tell if the Crypt Keeper will return from the dead, or if he'll stay buried six feet under for the duration of the near future.
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