4. Tales From The Crypt
Air Dates: June 10, 1989 - July 19, 1996
Best Episode: "Television Terror" (July 17, 1990)
If this were a countdown of the “best TV hosts of all time,” Tales From The Crypt would rank much higher. All praise is due to The Crypt Keeper (voiced by John Kassir), the morbidly sarcastic ghoul who opened and closed every episode of HBO's hard-R-rated anthology series. With his maniacally giddy laugh and penchant for grotesque puns (“I hope you like cannibal soup…. It's mmm-mmm good!”), The Crypt Keeper reminded audiences that Tales From The Crypt, while never less than gruesome, kept its proverbial tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
For that combination of horror and pitch-black comedy, the show's producers didn't have to look any further than the old EC Comics from the 1950s, titles like The Haunt Of Fear, The Vault Of Horror, and, yes, Tales From The Crypt. The series lifted the bulk of its stories directly from those pages, retaining EC's classic formula of “asshole does asshole-y things and then suffers the bloody comeuppance,” and the results were gleefully sick.