Author’s Note: I owe a debt of thanks to IMDB for directors and titles of episodes.
Tales from the Crypt ran from 1989 to 1996 and spanned 93 episodes. In that time, it had some interesting celebrity directors, like Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, and Bob Hoskins. Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), producer of the show, has directed a handful of episodes. However, looking from a horror fan’s perspective, there are ten awesome directors best known for the horror genre who have stopped by to direct.
- Fred Dekker
Known for: Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad
The TFTC episode: “The Thing from the Grave”: A model (Teri Hatcher) cheats on her awful boyfriend (Miguel Ferrer) with a nice guy (Kyle Secor), and as the title indicates, at least one becomes a thing from the grave.
- Mick Garris
Known for: Pretty much every made-for-TV Stephen King adaptation, plus Sleepwalkers and Psycho IV.
The TFTC episode: “Whirlpool”: A comic book artist (Rita Rudner) is stuck living the same day repeatedly.
- Richard Donner
Known for: The Omen, as well as The Goonies, Superman, and Lethal Weapon.
The TFTC episodes: “Dig That Cat…He’s Real Gone:” Joe Pantoliano plays a circus performer who can’t die. “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”: A struggling ventriloquist (Bobcat Goldthwaite) meets his hero (Don Rickles) and learns his awful secret. “Showdown”: A Wild West outlaw is confronted by the ghosts of men he killed.
- Tom Holland
Known for: Fright Night, Child’s Play, Thinner, playing Uncle Bob in Hatchet II
The TFTC episodes: “Lover Come Hack to Me”: A lonely woman (Amanda Plummer) marries a boor who only wants her money. “Four-Sided Triangle”: A naïve farm girl (Patricia Arquette) is harassed by the farmers she works for, but her boyfriend the scarecrow might have a trick up his sleeve for dealing with them. “King of the Road”: A police officer vies with his daughter’s unstable suitor.
- Kevin Yagher
Known for: Mostly for behind-the-scenes stuff, like makeup effects for some of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and the Beauty and the Beast show from the ’80s, as well as special effects for Cocoon and Sleepy Hollow. He designed Chucky and the Cryptkeeper and directed Hellraiser: Bloodline.
The TFTC episodes: “Lower Berth”: A two-faced carnival attraction gets comeuppance on his abusive keeper. “Strung Along”: Appropriately enough, it’s about a puppeteer and his scheming protégé (Zach Galligan).
- Peter Medak
Known for: The Changeling
The TFTC episode: “The New Arrival”: A radio talk show host (David Warner) makes a house call for the mother (Zelda Rubinstein) of a difficult child, and gets more than he bargained for.
- Mary Lambert
Known for: Pet Sematary, Pet Sematary II, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
The TFTC episode: “Collection Completed”: A grumpy retiree (M. Emmet Walsh) pushes his gentle wife too far with his cruelty to her pets.
- William Malone
Known for: House on Haunted Hill, Feardotcom, Parasomnia
The TFTC episodes: “Only Skin Deep”: An angry guy meets his match in a mysterious masked woman who isn’t what she seems. “Report from the Grave”: A couple is menaced by the ghost (get ready for a whirring head, this is William Malone) of a serial killer.
- Tobe Hooper
Known for: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, ‘Salem’s Lot, Poltergeist
The TFTC episode: “Dead Wait:”: A con artist (James Remar) fixing to steal a valuable pearl is headed off at the pass. By Whoopi Goldberg, no less.
- William Friedkin
Known for: The Exorcist, Bug, Killer Joe
The TFTC episode: “On a Deadman’s Chest”: A rock singer gets a tattoo he comes to regret.
Tales from the Crypt may be gone (until the reboot anyway), but there are always reruns. The gifts given to the show by these greats will last.