Friday, May 26, 2006
Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television (2004)
Made-for-cable documentary chronicling the controversial but lauded EC horror comic book line, from its troubled original print run to its eventual home-video resurrection. William M. Gaines came to comics ignorant of the field, and it paid off; his stories were a raw blend of morality play melodrama and Grand Guignol gore designed to entertain and to sell books, not necessarily in that order. Fingered as the cause of juvenile delinquency and the general corruption of youth in the 1950s, Crypt and Vault of Horror were the subject of Congressional hearings on "decency." The result: the industry invoked a self-censoring "comics code of approval" which ultimately put EC out of business (except for Mad Magazine -- because it's fine to be subversive if you're funny, but not if you're scary and gross). Talking heads who tout the Crypt as an influence include George A. Romero, R.L. Stine and film producer Joel Silver (who eventually produced the HBO series). Stephen King is oddly MIA.