For those who grew up in the 1990s, very few TV shows had the cult status that Tales from the Crypt enjoyed from 1989 to 1996 on HBO. As far as the golden age of horror television that we’re currently enjoying, between The Walking Dead and The Strain, to say nothing of less-palatable also-rans like The Vampire Diaries, few shows have as much influence, with the possible exception of The X-Files. And like the recent renewal of The X-Files, which will hit Fox later this month, Tales from the Crypt is now getting a reboot from a pair of surprising sources: TNT and M. Night Shyamalan.
Having caught wind of the televison landscape’s interest in horror programming, TNT is using the reboot of Tales from the Crypt to anchor a proposed two-hour block of horror programming, which will be overseen by the Sixth Sense director. For those not familiar, the original HBO program was based on an EC Comics series of anthology horror tales, and was itself an anthology series that featured short tales of horror and suspense. More than that, the series was often graced with a plethora of high-level actors and actresses who gamely played their sanguine parts. (I have particular memories of an installment called “Dead Right,” in which an angry, ugly Jeffrey Tambor did, er, bodily harm to cuckolding wife Demi Moore.) The series also produced two feature films, Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood, the latter of which unfortunately starred Dennis Miller.
It’s unclear, as of yet, if Shyamalan’s take on the series will similarly call on big performers to have a bit of fun with bit roles, but this is all good news, as far as I’m concerned. If the series gives good directors and writers a chance to play with short format storytelling, with the freedom that often comes with the horror genre, the show could prove to be a feast of talent and giddy, pulpy thrills, not unlike the original. And as Bryan Fuller amps up his reboot of Amazing Stories, this could be a bit of a renaissance for the anthology series, calling back other sci-fi and horror favorites like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Update: Here’s the press release from TNT with the full details.
TNT is teaming up with M. Night Shyamalan on a new two-hour block of terror and suspense to be curated by the Oscar®-nominated writer-director (The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable) and executive producer of the summer’s TV hit, Wayward Pines. The block will feature both short and long-form storytelling, led by Tales from the Crypt, based on the original EC Comics and new stories, all executive-produced by Shyamalan and his partner at Binding Edge Pictures, Ashwin Rajan. The horror block is set to launch in fall 2016.
“This is a new genre for us in our series efforts and a great chance to partner with M. Night Shyamalan, whose blockbuster hit The Visit reminded movie audiences and critics this past summer that he truly is a master of horror,” said Sarah Aubrey, executive vice president of original programming for TNT. “This two-hour horror block demonstrates not only TNT’s commitment to working with today’s top talents, but also our strategy to stand out in today’s marketplace by challenging the conventional rules of programming and scheduling.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be teaming up with Kevin Reilly, Sarah Aubrey and the entire TNT team in this unique endeavor,” said Shyamalan. “To be part of such a beloved brand like Tales from the Crypt, something I grew up watching, and to also have the chance to push the boundaries of genre television as a whole, is an inspiring opportunity that I can’t wait to dive into.”
TNT’s new horror block marks the latest incarnation of Tales from the Crypt, which originated as a 1950’s EC Comics series created by William Gaines. In addition to Shyamalan and Rajan, James D. Stern (Looper, Freeheld) is executive-producing Tales from the Crypt with his company Endgame Entertainment. Aloris Entertainment’s John Santilli (The English Teacher, Missing William) and Dan McKinnon (Missing William) will also executive-produce. The original comics spawned multiple seasons of the cult classic show for HBO and became a worldwide brand.
TNT will announce the additional series to be featured in the horror block in the coming months.