Each episode begins with a tracking shot leading to the front door of the Crypt Keeper’s decrepit mansion. Once inside, the camera pans down hallways and stairways, and finally descends into the basement. The show’s host, the Crypt Keeper, then pops out from his coffin, cackling wildly; finally, green slime pours down over the screen as the main title appears. The Crypt Keeper is an animated corpse, as opposed to the original comics in which he was a living human being. The wisecracking Crypt Keeper, who was voiced by John Kassir and performed by puppeteer Van Snowden, would then introduce the episode with intentionally hackneyed puns (e.g. his frequent greeting to viewers: “Hello, Boils and Ghouls” or “Hello, Kiddies”). Each episode was self-contained, and was bookended by an outro sequence again involving the Crypt Keeper. Comic book cover art was created by Mike Vosburg and Shawn McManus.
The episode “You, Murderer” (1995) is particularly noteworthy since it was one of the first shows ever filmed that used computer effects to digitally insert actors into an episode. The episode was directed by series producer Robert Zemeckis, who had recently directed Forrest Gump which utilized these effects. Alfred Hitchcock appeared in a cameo at the beginning of the episode, and Humphrey Bogart played the starring role for this story. Because both men had been dead for decades, their appearances made the episode very well known amongst fans. This episode was also notable for Isabella Rossellini‘s guest appearance in which she parodies her lookalike mother, Ingrid Bergman, for the first (and only) time.
Very few of the episodes, especially in the early seasons, were based on actual stories from Tales from the Crypt. Many were instead from other EC Comics series. For instance, season one was predominantly from The Haunt of Fear, while season two was mostly from Shock SuspenStories. Tales from The Vault of Horror appeared sporadically throughout the series run. The final episode broadcast, “The Third Pig”, was the only original story not based on the comics, and the only one that was fully animated.