If there's a long-serving horror icon I love with all of my heart, it's the Crypt Keeper. Tales From the Crypt ran for 93 TV episodes, two movies, a fabulous yet short-lived radio show and a funky-as rap, 'The Crypt Jam', and it was the Crypt Keeper himself, the ultra-talented John Kassir, who made that magic happen. Of all of the marvelous actors and directors who contributed to Tales From the Crypt, John Kassir stands out as the true, ghoulish shining star... so what are his feelings on the upcoming reboot?
Sadly, Mr Kassir is not returning as the Crypt Keeper, and the Observer talked to the great man about the Tales From the Crypt reboot. His reaction to fan despair that he won't be TCK again is very moving:
''It’s amazing. As much as the fans are supporting me, I’m supporting them on this. One of the reasons the fans are so upset is this: the Crypt Keeper is that ride up to the top of the peak before the roller coaster drops you down. Whether the roller coaster ride was the best you’d ever been on, or pretty good, or it sucked, the anticipation of going up is always amazing. It’s the anticipation of it. It’s the fun, giggly part. No matter what the other part is, the fun part makes it okay for you to be doing this. The Crypt Keeper did that... [The Crypt Keeper] was the front man. He was Mick Jagger. He was the leader of the band. He probably even looks like Mick Jagger now!''
On the reboot / remake potential:
''I just hope they don’t use the name Tale from the Crypt just to get people to watch. I’m not going to discount what they can do, because they have very creative people working on it. But just the fact it’s not an anthology series doesn’t quite scan with me. Ours were all short stories, they were little morality plays. And if you didn’t like the story one week, you’d love the story next week.''
On the legendary Crypt Keeper maniacal laughter:
''At some point I was laughing at my own jokes, and I was laughing at his jokes. I started giggling, then I went into this bloodcurdling, screaming laugh for [TCK puppet creator Kevin Yagher]. His face just went blank. I thought he was freaking out, but really he was like “that’s GOT to be in there.”
On the legacy of Tales From the Crypt:
“I can’t even tell you how many people told me over the years they got into horror because of Tales from the Crypt. It was the Crypt Keeper, and my voice in particular, that pulled them into the TV set.
If you had asked me if kids were watching this show when it was on the air, I’d say no effing way. These kids were not only watching it, but because they didn’t have HBO they were getting the neighborhood together to watch it. A lot of people say “He was my best friend as a kid. I had the doll, he was my best friend.” Or girls say, “he was my first boyfriend.” [laughs]
After years at the front line of horror, Kassir has a healthily realistic view of how the reboot might go down — but hasn't ruled out his own involvement:
''The best case scenarios is, they do something great and I’m involved with it, came in as a guest actor or something. Second best is they do something great and I just get to watch it. Almost worst case is they make something crappy. Absolute worst case is they make something crappy and I was involved in it [laughs].''
A large part of Kassir's reservations about the Tales From the Crypt reboot is his aversion to the now ubiquitous CGI effects:
''Nowadays, [horror series] do so much with CGI. We used practical effects, and to me that’s part of the fun. It’s like, “Oh my god, they used jelly and a guy’s finger sticking through a cardboard box.” Black and white, they used chocolate syrup and it looked like blood.
So, it’s understandable that the fans are fearful of this new Tales from the Crypt, because it goes against everything that made the original successful. It was a show of artisans.''