The Bunker, 3AM
I hear a shuffling at my door, and as I slowly wake up I see an envelope slide under it. It has a note stuck on the front that says “Sorry”. At least the evil fucker known as Dr. Camp is aware he’s torturing me by making me watch this bullshit from his childhood. As I open the envelope, I notice a thumb drive with a letter attached to it that reads “Not sorry” which is the instant buzz kill to the idea that came across my mind that the evil shit-monger had a soul. I grab my glasses and sit down at my computer, worried about the contents of the drive. The last time I just popped one into my computer, I was greeted with something one should never, ever Google. I’m pretty sure that that was Crystal Dawn’s doing, but I also can’t rule out Dr. Camp. With a sigh, I run the first of two files. The one labled “CFTCEpisode1.MP4”, and, loud as fuck, “HELLO KIDDIES” blasts from my speakers.
I rush to the door and throw it open.
“I’VE ALREADY WATCHED THIS!”
I sit back down and see a text notification that reads “Tough shit.” Well, I guess I’ve got to watch this all over again. Through my tears of frustration, I begin. Today’s bullshit is Secrets of the Cryptkeeper’s Haunted House, a children’s game show based on the HBO series. Who the fuck thought this was a good idea?
Following the lines of the source material, the HBO series “Tales from the Crypt”, this Saturday morning kids show opens with a short monologue from “The Cryptkeeper”, once again voiced by iconic voice actor John Kassir. To this very day, I get creeped out every single time I watch the Cryptkeeper scenes from this game show or the HBO show. The puppet here looks stiffer than the one on the HBO show that ended it’s 7 year run earlier in the year that this aired. The game show version of the Keeper just doesn’t look as smooth. I’m curious on why that’s the case. I’ve tried to dig up some answers, but I can’t find any.
Most of the games on this show, with the exception of the end game of “Skullduggery”, had some sort of computer graphics element with them. The first event, which is traditionally “Fireball Alley”, is one of those moments where looking back you say “We fucking liked this as children?” The CG here is sooooo dated, you can obviously take a look at it and notice it was produced in the 1990’s. The kids would play an overly produced game of dodgeball as they try not to get knocked off a suspension bridge. They also try to protect gravestones from being knocked over by “Digger”, the show’s unofficial mascot. In the 2nd phase of the game, for each headstone left standing, the kids earn the right to answer questions. All of the questions being under the category “Things in common.” They were pretty easy to answer, but some of the kids were down right dumb. Now I know being on TV, with production and pomp and circumstance attached to it, you can freeze up so don’t “at me” thinking I’m picking on them. I’m just giving everyone some heads up, because we will have a bunch of those moments in this review.
“Worminator” is one of the games that I honestly think that if they didn’t have any padding during the game, it could cause potential injury. You have to travel along a moving platform while stopping at intervals to transfer 3 balls from one side to another. The evil side of the game is that they have winds of what the host claims to be “in excess of 100 miles per hour” and dropping a ball means it’s out of play. Can we pause and talk about the host for a moment? Am I the only one to find it very humorous that the host isn’t that much taller than the contestants themselves? Going back to the game it’s very tough to see anyone scoring much as the kids themselves weigh less than 80 pounds; with fucking gale force winds like that it’s very rare to see a score.
“The Incredible Shrinking Room”, always as the third game of the show, was where they find words missing a letter. They go back and forth from one side of the room to the other to finish them as the room closes in on them. As far as the room itself goes, it’s got a metric fuck ton of smoke and fog on the floor and as the room shrinks it hides some of the letters, so i can honestly see that it was more of a production error for the reason why kids fail. Some of the time, the kids just simply overlook the correct letters or grab the wrong ones by mistake. Most of the time, though, the runs I’ve seen earned points but were rarely the full 30.
The next game on the docket is “The Endless Hallway,” which is kinda the hardest one in my opinion. One of the kids is on a treadmill and their only task is to run. As they are running they relay the images they see to the teammate located at the front of the house. Outside, their goal is to finish fill-in-the-blank statements.
For the episodes I’ve seen, there hasn’t been a full 30 point game, and I’m not holding my fucking breath.
Now going back on the bandwagon of shitty CG, “The Swamp from Hell” is a 2 part event like “Fireball Alley”. In the front yard, there’s a trampoline with some skulls hanging off of what I assume is a tree. They get the shortest person on the team to jump for the skulls as the other one is hanging in a cage over a lava pit. When 15 seconds is up, they have to run inside and have one minute to transfer a bag of skulls over a narrow bridge for each group of skulls they knocked down in the yard. The game is boring. There’s no other way to describe it. I honestly don’t see why it was in 2 parts. They could have had a stack of skulls, maybe at most 8 of them, at the front of the bridge and let them choose how many they got. I’ve personally never seen anyone score points this way and they could have done better on a re-design.
The last CG based game was “The Abyss” where one of the contestants would swing in via a rope to a series of rope ladders to hit actuators attached to numerical values to answer questions. The teammate would relay the messages off a screen in the front yard that the other could hear. Not as boring as “The Swamp” was but it left from a fuck ton of ass clenching moment.
The last one was called “Vampire’s Lair” which involved a player going into a room that would light up via a strobe light then go dark with the teammate leading them around via a video feed of a night vision camera. Now I know that there’s immediate concern about strobe warnings, and I’m assuming that the reason I haven’t seen it yet, was due to it being aired once, then canned for obvious reasons.
When it was all said and done the kids won a Macintosh Performa 6300 which was sold around $1,500 (which would cost $2,500 in today’s money with inflation) and the runner ups would get Grolier’s “The New Book of Knowledge” which was an encyclopedia with the intended age group being seven through fourteen. “Hey kids, you were shown to be dumb during the show so here’s some learning material!!” The only prices I’ve seen are full sets averaging around $1,000 so with inflation coming into effect it would have been around $600 in 1996.
I wouldn’t recommend binge watching this even if you have access to the full series. However if you are a fan of how technology has advanced over the years, I would recommend watching for that, and that alone. Fucking christ, this show definitely does not age well, along with most kids shows of the 90’s. Now, to figure out what “gift” I should leave outside of Dr. Camp’s door for making me watch this, yet again.