Tales from the Crypt is a licensed pinball machine based on the 1950s horror comic books and the horror anthology television series on HBO. The game was designed by John Borg, with art by Kurt Andersen and Markus Rothkranz, and released by Data East in 1993.
Similar to its namesakes, the Crypt game is centered on twelve frightful "Creature Features". As the cabinet shakes with the souls of previous players, Crack some Skulls, rob the Crypt, dodge the Guillotines, then try to select a Door Prize (but avoid the hangman!). Hit the Keeper's eyeballs, pound on the Tombstone, then confront the Werewolf and Play the Organ. Complete all twelve Features, then sit in the Electric Chair and fire it up for the Crypt Jam — all while the Crypt Keeper cackles away with his nonstop barrage of horror(-ble) puns...
Although some found the theme a bit lowbrow (true to its inspiration), Tales of the Crypt is widely regarded as one of Data East Pinball's best pins ever, a fast and balanced game with a lot of variety and challenge for expert players. Complaints against this pinball tend to focus on either the art, the theme, or the Crypt Keeper's annoying cackle, though admittedly they're all part of the license. The table itself even made a cameo in the episode "Oil's Well That Ends Well" where the Crypt Keeper played it in the opening.
The very first table manufactured was gifted to the musician Slash, who was working with Data East at the time to develop their Guns N' Roses pinball game. It included a personalized message in the display ROMs and a small plaque reading "Made Especially for Slash and Renee."
The Tales from the Crypt pinball features the following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: The Crypt pinball takes equal inspiration from both the original EC Comics title (primarily for the artwork) and the HBO series (the Crypt Keeper's voice and humor).
- Bad Santa: The backglass shows a lecherous man in a Santa suit creepily licking a woman's cheek.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": The game calls a game mode a "creature feature".
- The Cameo: The Crypt Keeper's comic book co-hosts, the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch, appear on the backglass.
- Continuity Nod: The Crypt Keeper is shown on the backglass reading an issue of EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt.
- Faceless Eye: Eyeballs are used for the KEEPER targets.
- Fanservice Extra:
- Subverted with the sexy bikini-clad blonde perched on top of the "Creature Feature" well, whose face is that of an eyeless skull.
- Played straight with the woman wielding the chainsaw on the backglass.
- Gag Lips: One of the creatures on the playfield has an exaggerated pair of puffy bright red lips.
- Game Mod: The unofficial 4.00 revision by a fan which restores a number of the Crypt Keeper's Dummied Out voice clips, fixes a number of bugs, balances some gameplay elements, and allows for more operator adjustments in gameplay.
- Gonk: Nearly everyone in the game is depicted as artistically ugly to some degree.
- Grave Robbing: The "Robbing the Crypt" feature.
- Haunted House: One appears in the background of the backglass and the playfield.
- Heroic Build: Exaggerated and subverted with the weightlifter on the playfield, who has an exaggerated bodybuilder's physique and the wrinkling, balding head of a very old man.
- Horror Host: The Crypt Keeper, naturally.The Crypt Keeper: "Wanna join my fang club?"
- Hurricane of Puns: The game is jammed full of very bad puns, all with a horror theme.The Crypt Keeper: "Chop of the morning to ya!"
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the television series, which in turn was Darker and Edgier and Bloodier and Gorier than the original comics.
- Match Sequence: The Crypt Keeper swats a bat with a fly swatter, whose corpse leaves behind a number.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: One of the scenes on the backglass shows an attractive young woman standing in front of a mirror, with her reflection being that of a zombie.
- Pungeon Master: The Crypt Keeper.The Crypt Keeper: "Two deads are better than one!"
- Secondary Adaptation: The game is primarily based on the HBO series Tales from the Crypt, which was based on the EC Comics series of the same name. (That said, it does fold in some elements from the latter.)
- Shout-Out: The sides of the backbox depict The Crypt Keeper dressed as a barber with a sharp razor, as a homage to Sweeney Todd."Shave and a Haircut, Two Pints!"
- Skill Shot: Time the launch so the ball hits the lit guillotine target as the light moves along the bank of three.
- Spelling Bonus: Hit the Tombstone to spell C-R-Y-P-T for Crypt Multiball and to collect the Monster Jackpot. Spelling K-E-E-P-E-R lights the left outlane kickback.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: The right spinner shows a man strapped to it.The Crypt Keeper: "Time to assume the position!"
- Video Mode: In "Door Prize", three closed doors are shown. Choose one with the flippers and open it for points. The mode ends when you open a door that reveals a hanged man instead.
- Wizard Mode: The "Crypt Jam", a six-ball multiball mode with a 25-second ball saver. All shots are worth 1 million points, and the mode ends when only one ball remains.
- Wolf Man: Seen on the playfield, and is featured in the "Werewolf Countdown".
- The Crypt Keeper: "Pleasant SCREAMS!"