Saturday, July 16, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 26: Character that makes you laugh.

Hello Creeps! Glad you got caught in my little corner of the web. Now, before we slice into today’s question, I know some people have been complaining about my posts being rather gore-adic lately. Once again, technology has feared its ugly head. Scare with me folks. Besides, you know what they say, “people who live in glass hearses shouldn’t throw bones!” I promise bleede... I mean readers, if you hang in there with me; I’ll maggot up to you in the shrieks to come. Now, on with the post. It’s a bloody, beastly bit of blogging I like to call “30 Day Horror Challenge Strikes Back Day 26: Character that makes you laugh.”

Man, I do love me some Crypt Keeper. He, or more specifically his comic book iteration, isn’t given nearly the credit he deserves for being as innovative and influential as he was. From 1950-1955 he spouted his puns and gory one-liners in the Takes From the Crypt comic, influencing countless future horror writers, directors, and actors. This was years before TV horror hosts started doing the same thing. Zacherly, Elvira, and all the others owe a big debt to the crypt keeper. Magazines like Forrest Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria have employed the style. I dare say that Freddy Krueger and all of the other smart ass slashers wouldn’t be making wisecracks if the Cryptkeeper hadn’t pioneered the art form. Then he brought the whole thing full circle by becoming an anthology host himself on HBO’s classic Tales from the Crypt series.

Samuel Johnson once said that puns are the lowest form of humor. A lot of people think that way. I could not disagree more. I used to do be a tour guide in Savannah, Ga, driving tourists around in a hearse telling ghost stories. I decided trying to take it too seriously would ruin the fun, so I started telling bad jokes, obviously inspired by the Crypt Keeper myself. In fact, on more than one occasion my tour was reviewed as being like “taking a ride with the Crypt Keeper.” I realized as time went on that a pun getting a huge groan was the exact same as it getting a huge laugh. That’s the trick. There’s a fine line between bad and so bad it’s good in pun humor, especially morbid puns, and trying to walk that line gave me a whole new appreciation for the brilliance of the Crypt Keeper. Those awful puns were great and actually very skillfully crafted. Yes you’d roll your eyes, but you couldn’t help but laugh too.

His great lines wouldn’t have meant a thing, however, if he hadn’t been brought to life so well. Kevin Yagher and his team made one of the most expressive characters ever, despite the fact that half of his face had rotted off. That puppet had personality! It took four people to control it. The face alone had 27 servo motors! The voice was the other crucial factor. John Kassir played it perfectly. He attacked the lines with such gusto that it sold them. The slightest hint of self awareness in his voice would have ruined the tone. He just went balls to the wall with the character, and that’s why he’s so damn funny. That cackle itself is a thing of beauty.

The Crypt Keeper is a truly timeless character. You could plop him down in any horror situation and he’d be gold. How many other characters from the late 80’s do you think could resonate with audiences without having to be “rebooted” or given a modern makeover? I betcha the Crypt Keeper could. There will always be a place for his style of humor. He kills me. There’s really not much else to say, so I’ll let the corpse of the hour end this one himself. Pleasant screams!

1 comment:

Cash Wampum said...

Alfredo from Chainsaw III and Stooge from NOTD. Funniest fuckers ever in horror.

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