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Nightmare Fuel / Tales from the Crypt

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WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

Since the series has the word "Crypt" in the title, you can tell things won’t be very pleasant.

TV series

This show liked the twist endings; therefore, beware of heavy spoilers below.

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  • There's the Crypt Keeper himself. He's pretty damn ugly, and even if he is pretty goofy in terms of personality, he's also not beyond driving a corkscrew into someone's eye or ripping out a tongue. If you grew up in the 90s, there's a very decent chance he scared the tar out of you.
  • The show itself, as one would expect of an uncensored horror 'short story' show, can dabble between this and Narm, depending on the episode.
  • The opening sequence can be pretty nightmarish if it's your first time watching it. You get to tour a creepy-looking haunted house before eventually coming upon a coffin, which suddenly opens to reveal the Crypt Keeper, laughing maniacally.

     Season 1 

     Season 2 
  • "For Cryin' Out Loud", where Lee Arenberg plays a nightclub owner whose conscience finally gets through to him after decades of trying - just in time to advise him against embezzling charity money in an abstract of The Telltale Heart, but a bit more literally once he murders his blackmailing banker. What pushes this into nightmare territory, though, is the final sequence. Marty has used Q-tips throughout the episode to try and clear the voice out of his head, and is shown at one point mashing them against his ears in a funny way. But then he's shown wandering through the club, unable to hear anything but the persistent voice, and seeing people stare at him oddly. After blurting a confession to murder, the voice in his head has this to say, prompting Marty to pull over half of a bloody Q-tip out of his left ear.
    Conscience: Good, Marty! That was a lovely confession. Doesn't it feel better to get it off your chest? Hey! What's that in your ear? Easy... Hey, Marty! Something just occurred to me. Do you think that's what everybody was looking at all this time, and they could never really hear me? Oh Marty - that means if you'd just kept your mouth shut, you could have gotten away with it after all!
    • And for bonus points, said voice was Sam Kinison, so the fact that he'd been on death-row for two years hearing only Kinison's voice adds another layer to the whole thing. No wonder he was so eager to die!
      Marty: Is it time?! Is it time?! IS IT TIME?!
      Conscience: What's the hurry, Marty? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
  • "Television Terror" non-stop. The setting is a Haunted House, where an old woman murdered her elderly boarders for their social security checks years earlier. TV host Horton Rivers enters with his cameraman to investigate the hauntings, despite a psychic consultant's warnings. Horton begins seeing flashes of the gruesome murders, and then the doors open and close on their own. When the psychic finally warns him to get out of there now, the cameraman is revealed to have been hanged and the ghostly victims come out in force. Horton fares worse, getting on the wrong end of a chainsaw wielded by the old woman's ghost before going out the window and hung on live TV.
    • The scary part about this episode is that while most of the episodes range from pure camp this one stands out enough that it could have made a stand alone horror film.
    • Not only that; it's happened in real life.

     Season 3 
  • "Abra Cadaver." A good deal of the episode is told from the POV of a man trapped in his own body thanks to his vengeful brother using a special drug on him that keeps the brain alive but the body unresponsive (for a while), who is on the verge of getting cut apart at a medical school. Sure, it turns out to be a prank, but then the drug gives him a heart attack and he dies for real, and his brother attempts to save him with the same drug. The final shot is of him about to get cut apart...while still feeling everything.
    Carl: Well, here it is at last: my autopsy. God damn you, Marty, you were absolutely right. Except about one thing! The sense of touch, it isn't the first thing to go! IT'S THE LAST! AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!
  • The ending of "Carrion Death". The criminal falls from a mountain, survives but ends up paralyzed from a broken neck...and is left at the mercy of vultures that eat him alive.
  • "Dead Wait" is a definite example of Nightmare Fuel, though being directed by Tobe Hooper, this should come as no surprise. As if John Rhys-Davies' shirtless torso bulging with an assortment of tiny worms under his flesh was not enough, the antagonist performing an impromptu autopsy to remove an ingested pearl from his stomach is added for good measure. In classic Tobe Hooper style, the act is not seen (in favor of facial expression shots from a nearby onlooker), yet it still manages to be just as gruesome off screen as it would be if actually filmed.
    • In syndication, maybe, but the uncut HBO version shows it up close, along with a shot of the guy pulling out a loop of intestine and slicing it open to extract the pearl. Definitely more gruesome onscreen.
  • "Split Second" involves a woman who marries the boss of a gang of lumberjacks. She is so bored that she begins an affair with one of the other lumberjacks, but cries rape when her husband catches them, resulting in the husband attacking the guy with an axe and blinding him. The other workers' response is to kidnap the woman and her husband, and place them inside hollow logs for the blind lumberjack to saw in half; he realizes what is happening fairly early on, but joyfully goes through with it anyway. There's a lovely gory shot of the husband’s body chopped into four parts, and by the revving of the chainsaw at the very end, it’s implied that the wife is next.

     Season 4 
  • For the Fridge Horror aspect to the concept of "What's Cookin?" — imagine you're enjoying a meal at a restaurant and the meal in question is human flesh but you're completely unaware of the realization.
  • The elderly zombies in "None But The Lonely Heart". The two most recently deceased (whose deaths we saw in the episode) are rotting and slimy. The third is little more than a dried-up, mummy-like husk. The fourth is a worm-ridden skeleton in a rotting wedding dress. The episode ends with all of them cornering the villain protagonist in a mausoleum and chowing down on him with a nauseating crunch.
    • What makes it especially horrifying is how sudden and unexpected it is. Until The Reveal, there are no supernatural elements in the episode whatsoever, making the appearance of the zombies that much more shocking (Body Horror aside).
  • In "Beauty Rest", a wannabe model murders several rivals so that she can win a rigged beauty contest and become the new "face" of a mysterious company. She does win the pageant, but then it's time for her to appear in the "grand finale." Next thing we see is the pageant host singing a cheery song about how beauty is great, but "it's what inside that counts" as the winner is unveiled: she's been nailed to a board, completely eviscerated, and the audience "oohs" and "aahs" over her as she is now the reigning "Miss Autopsy 1992". Even scarier is that the pageant host's assistant prefers if they did it the old way: straight kidnap women off the street.
  • "Split Personality" ends with Joe Pesci's character being cut in half with a chainsaw so that a pair of psychotic twin sisters can each have him as "theirs." Starting at the crotch. With a close-up of his mutilated insides. Lovely.
  • Mr. Lokai's transformation and murder of the maid in "Werewolf Concerto" is surprisingly effective given how fairly lighthearted the episode is up till that point. The clothes ripping, bones crunching, and distorted screams make for a very unnerving sequence on its own. But then the poor unsuspecting maid coming into the room and having her face graphically smashed against a piano until it caves in provides the extra bit of Nightmare Fuel.

     Season 5 
  • "Death of Some Salesmen", in which Ed Begley, Jr. plays Judd Campbell, an asshole cemetery plot salesman who gets kidnapped by a psychotic redneck family and is forced to marry and have sex with their ugly daughter. Oh, and the mother, father, and daughter are all played by Tim "Dr. Frankenfurter" Curry. Noted in that it is kind of similar to Nothing but Trouble (which interestingly featured a music score by Michael Kamen, who also scored the music for this episode).
  • "Forever Ambergris". GOOD GOD, "Forever Ambergris"! Despite the episode having nothing to do with the comic it takes its title from, it is Body Horror and Nausea Fuel cranked Up to Eleven! A photographer gets a flesh-eating disease that literally rots him alive, and at one point his eye falls out!
    • Somehow, the photographer survives the night in that condition. He staggers out of his tent the following morning, his rotting flesh literally hanging off his body (with his chest nearly eaten away, exposing his internal organs), looking for all the world like the walking dead (which, at that point, he basically is). He raises his hand to point out the man responsible for his condition...who promptly shoots him dead.
    • Then there's the ending: the photographer's rival (who sent him into the infected village in the first place) ends up with the dead guy's widow, Bobbie, just as he had planned. As the killer and Bobbie are having sex, she reveals that she knows he killed her boyfriend: he wrote to her and revealed everything before he died. Oh, and he sent her some balsam from the infected village—which the two of them just smoked. As she writhes atop him, her veins burst open, spraying them both with infected blood. As if that weren't enough, the murderer throws her off and runs to the bathroom, frantically trying to wash off the blood, only for his nose fall off in the sink. Yikes.
      • Worse, this is a Call-Back to a story told earlier in the episode, about a Vietnam soldier whose nose was eaten by insects while he slept. According to the storyteller, the soldier went mad and began scouring the jungle for bugs, cutting open each one he found...looking the pieces of his missing nose. Shudder.

     Season 6 
  • "You, Murderer" could be considered this for those who fear what could happen to them after they die. They end up in an And I Must Scream situation.
  • "Staired In Horror" is about a house that has a strange effect on the people who enter it. Males walking upstairs age, but females who do become younger and vice versa. Now, the man hiding from the police makes the mistake of forgetting this and hides all the way up in the attic and...well, he ends up aging a hundred years and is reduced to a shriveled husk barely alive. And when his female accomplice goes upstairs to check on him, all he can do is watch in horror as she turns into a baby before his very eyes.
    • It tells you how horrifying the situation is when the Crypt Keeper actually has to reassure the audience that Clyde did manage to escape this predicament. However, he says it took Clyde a couple years to do so.
  • "Doctor of Horror." Two bumbling security guards agree to help Dr. Orloff sneak some corpses out of the morgue for his experiments, all to find where the soul is and harvest it. Richard is all in for the payday, but Charlie eventually starts having second thoughts (particularly as things escalate and Richard attacks their boss to use as an experiment). At Orloff's suggestion, Richard kills Charlie both to keep him quiet and for further experimentation. Orloff gets the soul, and Richard gets to hack up Charlie's body, but we all know it doesn't end there. What's left of Charlie comes back with a vengeance, beheading Orloff and getting to work cutting up a very conscious, strapped-down Richard.

     Season 7 
  • "Ear Today...Gone Tomorrow" is about a thief who gets an operation that gives him the auditory system of an owl. Unfortunately, it also gives him other owl-like traits, and at the end, his jaw cracks open and he develops an owl's beak.
    • Moreover, the Lawson crime family's...questionable method of improving their work: using their hearing- and visually-impaired associates as hosts to develop animal organs, which are then harvested by a Mad Doctor for the Lawsons once the side effects start kicking in.
  • There's the show finale "The Third Pig", a rather dark and twisted take on the classic fairy tale The Three Little Pigs. It's also the only episode of the show to be animated as opposed to live-action. That doesn't make it any less frightening.