In 2000, The Seeing Ear Theatre produced eight episodes of Tales from the Crypt audio dramas. Upon discovering this, I decided to listen to the first episode, “Island of Death.” Being a huge Tales from the Crypt fan, I was excited to see the campy, gory stories that I love produced in an audio format and went in with high expectations. This was a terrible decision on my part.
Unlike most of my reviews on this site, I plan on discussing some spoilers since the episode runs a meager thirty-eight minutes and I wouldn’t have much to discuss if I tried to avoid spoilers. If you insist on listening to this episode (against my recommendation), I won’t reveal the ending. Of course, like I suggest with all reviews, if you want the full effect of the artists vision avoid reviews and experience the art form for yourself before reading what other people think.
The show begins with a remixed version of Danny Elfman’s iconic Tales from the Crypt theme. This version is inferior to the original which now has lyrics performed by John Kassir, the original Crypt Keeper from the television show. The lyrics don’t work and only ruin the flow of the song. This was not a good start to the series, but the theme song doesn’t have much effect on the story, so I allowed it to pass over with no judgment.
Just like the television show, once the theme song finished we are greeted by The Crypt Keeper who uses some fun puns to introduce the upcoming story entitled “Island of Death.” My immediate thoughts went to Ritual, the often forgotten third Tales from the Crypt movie that took place in Jamaica. That film was no where near the quality of Demon Knight or Bordello of Blood, but it was worth watching and I secretly hoped this was some sort of adaptation. It is not. Instead, Island of the Dead is a version of a story we all have experienced a million times, most notably known as The Most Dangerous Game.
This interpretation of The Most Dangerous Game story is actually an new interpretation of Island of Death, which can be found in issue thirteen of The Vault of Horror. There are some notable differences in the two stories, but the plot is similar.
The story starts off with two newly minted millionaires (Quinn and Baily), thanks to their late 90’s internet start up cash, flying to Tahiti and discussing their top five movie lists. Disaster strikes and the plane goes down. Quinn, portrayed by Luke Perry, washes up on the shore of an unmapped island where he is seduced and nursed back to health by a mysterious woman named Galatea, portrayed by Gina Gershon.
After I got to experience my first audio drama sex scene between Quinn and Galatea, Quinn wakes up in a locked room with a TV and we discover that he is on a television show called MANTIS. It’s named MANTIS because Galatea takes unsuspecting young men, mates with them, and then hunts them on an island full of microphones and cameras for just one single viewer. The show has an announcer Doris who keeps up with the action and over the next twenty five minutes we join Quinn on his trek through hyena dens and swamplands all while being hunted by a psycho bitch.
The voice acting is average to good. Rarely could I hear Luke Perry’s distinct growl and Gina Gershon decided to go all out with chew the audio scenery, which worked well. She especially impressed me towards the last few minutes of audio drama when she decided to ramp it up to eleven and just go nuts.
Where this drama fails is in its script. Besides being totally uninspired and lazy, the writing is just bad. In audio dramas sometimes the characters have to use names a little more often or explain the events going on around them to help the listening fill in the holes and follow the plot. A good audio drama uses people with distinct voices or accents so they can limit the amount of times needed to say a characters name. For example, if you listen to the ensemble piece Who Goes There?, they masterfully bounce between a handful of characters and never once does the listener get lost on who is speaking.
Island of the Dead shouldn’t have this issue, because rarely are more than two characters ever in a scene, yet, they still decide to hold the listeners hand and finish almost every sentence with the characters name. This is distracting when you using a unique name like Galatea that stands out in a conversation. I wish I had the patience to go back and count the number of times this name is said, if I had to guess I’d say it’s sixty-eighty times over thirty-eight minutes. It’s distracting and irritating.
“How could you do this, Galatea?”
“Are you serious Galatea?”
“What is that over there Galatea?”
It was so grinding I almost turned the show off, especially since I had an idea how this show would end thanks to the unoriginal plot.
On the bright side, the writing did capture the campiness and corniness of the series and I felt like the ending was something you’d see in an Tales from the Crypt episode. That part at least felt authentic to the series.
Once we get our big reveal ending, the show ends and The Crypt Keeper is back for a few parting words. And then just like the TV show, we go to the credits.
What I Liked About It:
-John Kassir as The Cryptkeeper
-Decent enough voice acting
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-Terrible theme song
I’m not sure what to expect out of the Tales from the Crypt audio series going forward, but I have to believe it only gets better. This episode is pretty atrocious and I highly recommend you skip it. Officially, I’d rate it a one out of five and a say skip it.