For many Tales from the Crypt holds a special place in our hearts. People stumble upon horror in different ages based on when they were born, but they often fall into it around the same age: childhood. So for me the Tales from the Crypt tv show came along when I was in late childhood, the original run lasting from 1989-1996. What I find fascinating is that the show consisted of direct adaptations of EC horror comics of the 1950s. And so there is a unique connection between kids growing up in the 1980s and 90s and kids growing up in the 1950s and 60s. And now returning to them another 30 years later, there is so much that I find intriguing.
In the first season we have Tales from the Crypt’s Lover Come Hack to Me, an episode that I think rates among its best early episodes.
In this episode we have many of the elements that make the show one of the greats that horror TV has to offer.
The Story of Tales From the Crypt’s Lover Come Hack to Me
It begins in a very classic way for Tales from the Crypt. A conniving lover, marrying a woman for her money. It’s the type of set up that factors into a large number of the stories. Stephen Shellen plays Charles, a man we all know is going to get his just desserts. His new wife Peggy is played by Amanda Plummer, a fantastic character actor that many people remember fondly for such films as Pulp Fiction, The Fisher King, and So I Married an Axe Murderer. It just so happens that that last title is very fitting for this story.
Then it leads to a set up that is very reminiscent of many campfire tales. The two honeymooners come to a fallen tree in the road, and so they must take refuge in an old abandoned mansion.
Amanda Plummer plays the role of unassuming, timid wife perfectly. The episode nearly won’t work unless that role is cast well, and it doesn’t get much better.
The couple go on to make their way into the giant house, which could not be any creepier. It’s the beginning that mimics many ghost stories. At this point it has become cliche, but all storytelling cliches begin as a trope that can be used and reinvented time and again. In this case, ghost stories often have a combination of:
- a man and his girlfriend or significant other
- a broken down vehicle
- either being attacked in the car or taking refuge in a nearby house
The stories in Tales from the Crypt often use the same tropes but add an element of irony… a sinful or otherwise distasteful person who falls victim to their own vices in some way.
In this case, Charles doesn’t love or even like his new wife. But when they have their first night as a married couple, he suddenly finds a passion for her that he didn’t know existed.
After their lovemaking, he strangely finds her missing. Then she arrives with a new man. She brings this new man inside and they make love. And it is there the irony begins. He had developed feelings for her, despite previously only be interested in her money.
After having sex with this new man, Peggy then proceeds to grasp the giant battle axe off the wall and kills him.
And then there is the twist. Or at least, the first of them.
What Charles is seeing are ghosts. In true ghost story fashion. It isn’t Peggy, but rather her mother that has taken this man home and slept with him.
Charles then wakes up, happy that it was only a dream. But of course, it wasn’t just a dream. It was a premonition. It is a ritual. The women of her family must lure men in, so they can be impregnated. Then the man must be killed. While their love is “pure” and untainted.
The additional bit of irony is that Charles tries to convince her that they aren’t in love. She thinks she must kill him because their love is pure, and killing him will make it last forever. Convincing her that he never loved her is the only way to save himself. But of course, he isn’t convincing enough in the end.
The Comic Basis of Lover Come Hack to Me
“Lover Come Hack to Me” was originally published in The Haunt of Fear in 1953. Although The Haunt of Fear included only 28 issues, quite a few of the stories were used as the basis for Tales from the Crypt episodes.
This story was written by Al Feldstein, who like publisher William Gaines is most known for his long run with Mad Magazine. But the two of them are the ones behind most of the major horror comic books of the 1940s and 1950s. The Al Feldstein and William Gaines pairing is arguably one of the most influential in horror history, having made their mark on a large selection of horror comic books before turning their eyes on parody and humor. Al Feldstein himself was awarded a Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with comics.
The artist of “Lover Come Hack to Me” George Evans was a prolific comic artist for EC Comics. This is just one of the stories he contributed to over the years.
Some comic inspirations behind Tales from the Crypt episodes can be quite different from what we saw in the episode. This isn’t one of those cases. The story in The Haunt of Fear is very similar, despite they being two different mediums and separated by 35 years.
The comic book tale attempts to lay out the new wife as innocent. A clueless damsel. And the same can definitely be said for Amanda Plummer’s character in Tales from the Crypt. It’s a great twist to what everyone is expecting to be a straight-forward ghost story. And when you give either of them a fresh view, there are many clues that Peggy/Freda will end up being the devilish villain of the story.
Seeing the comic book version next to what was reinvented for the Tales from the Crypt TV show, it leads you to appreciate both mediums for what they are. Great artistic expressions of classic horror tales.
History of Censorship of Such Stories
It’s notable that the story “Lover Come Hack to Me” is strikingly similar to a cover image that is known for being part of the Senate Hearings on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954. Although George Evans didn’t illustrate that cover (it was by Johnny Craig) the style and subject matter is very similar to covers of Crime Suspenstories that George Evans did illustrate, such as this one. George Evans covers were featured in those hearings. And the main focus of the hearings were the horror comic books that William Gaines and Al Feldstein were famous for.
Learning more about the history of the great horror comics of our time, it gives fresh appreciation for the horror tales we now know and love.
Last Updated on April 12, 2021.