Festive Frights: A Terror Tracks Xmas Edition Special On THE TALES FROM THE CRYPT Holiday Album
We all had that one holiday album growing up that accompanied us on many a long road trip to see relatives or instantly playing at 6AM on Christmas morning. Mine was the Merry Christmas By Bing Crosby. My family instilled in us at an early age of Golden Age Hollywood films that starred the likes of Crosby, Bob Hope, and Fred Astaire so the smooth baritone of Bing is like a warm blanket on Christmas Day. An album that I’m sure many of us did not grow up is the Tales From The Crypt Christmas Album released in 1994 from The Right Stuff, a predominately reissue subsidiary of Capitol Records. Featuring the surprisingly keen tenor of John Kassir, the voice of the Crypt Keeper, the album is made up of classic Christmas songs rewritten in the way only Tales can: very punny and filled with tongue in cheek humor.
We’re greeted to the tinkling carol of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with the GhouLunatic in Chief The Crypt Keeper amiably humming along. It all feels very much like a cold opening to one of the regular episodes. After a short invocation, The Crypt Keeper kicks off the celebration of Cryptmas with "Deck The Halls With Parts of Charlie". If you are like me and get a kick out of morbid plays on popular songs, then this one’s for you. While repetitive, like many Christmas carols, the spooky new lyrics are a ball:
Raise the tree and bring the ladder
Fa la la la la la la la la
Top it off with Gills gall bladder
See what I mean? Harmless, silly, and terribly funny if Tales from the Crypts’ violent, corny jokes make you smile. Which they definitely make me. And as this album played on, that smile turned to joyous confusion.
Juggle Bills, Would You Please Bury The Missus, and Moe Teitlbaum are the next three tracks, and if you’ve ever heard a classic Holiday Song you can surmise what these three tracks are parodying. Subtly was never Tales strong suit. But after these three tracks I kind of got the album. Juggle Bills decides to ask the question no one else was, “What may have happened to Santa during the economic recession of the early 1990’s in the Western world?” They were just simply asking the tough questions no one else thought to ask. Or the situations you’d rarely find yourself in, like the central figure in "Would You Please Bury The Missus", a riff on "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". In the song Henry and Linda, and their two children Jane and Bill who live down the hill have one request from their unnamed neighbor this Christmas: please finally bury your wife who you murdered last year. The brilliant lyrics speak for themselves:
She’s hurting property values
They’ve gone way down this year
The last thing on Xmas that folks want to see
Are remains of your wife on your lawn Christmas tree.
Yep. Told ya. Also: didn’t know lawn Christmas trees were a thing, so, we’ve all learned something new today.
The big twist comes later in the song when we find out that the murderous neighbor only killed his wife in a crime of passion, discovering her up the chimney...with Santa Claus. DRAMATIC MUSIC! While the new lyrics don’t 100% fit into the original melody (using a contraction was a bad idea, as was cramming in like four words in the place of one) the song is a prime example of just what this album is all about: utterly amazing nonsense.
Then we get to "Moe Teitlbaum", which can be summarized in this lyric:
Moe Teitlbaum, Moe Teitlbaum
You did embalm my dad and mom.
And sister Kate and brother Tom
You did as well, indeed embalm.
When you embalmed my family
It so confused and puzzled me
Oh Teitlbaum, I must confide
I wish you waited ‘till they died.
After that you probably are asking, “It’s the early 90’s and white people made this show...there’s going to be a rap track isn’t there?” You goddamn better believe it. And this one’s for all the ghouls from hell who like Christmas too:
Jason Wants a brand new look
His is a disgrace
This time he’d like a mask with Robert Redford's face!
Freddy wants a manicure
[unintelligible] Krueger's Nails
What a nightmare you will have, if dear old Santa fails!
I don’t know what to tell you. One, I really have zero clue what he says after “manicure” so if you do, let a brother know. Second, he’s rapping about what famous killers and monsters want for Christmas. You knew what you were getting yourself into with a Tales From The Crypt Christmas Album. IT’S GREAT RIGHT!
Hannibal The Cannibal would like some Christmas punch
Then he’d like to meet your elves, and have them all for lunch!
This is about the third or fourth time now that Hannibal Lecter has popped up in this album alone, and a great reminder as to just how huge and culturally significant Silence of the Lambs was in the early 90s and clearly is to this day. #FannibalForLife
The rest of the album is peppered with some fun readings of classic Christmas tales like “T’was the Night Before Christmas”, just with the usual Tales panache. Like any good holiday album, we end on the perennial note to the New Year Auld Lang Syne, better known to most by the opening lyrics “Should old acquaintance be forgot..”. But of course here it’s “Should Old Cadavers Be Forgot” but the sentiment is marginally the same.
If your first thought when you heard about this Christmas Album was, “What the fuck?”, then you are the target audience for this record. Best spun with some friends over your favorite party favors than the annual Christmas Road Trip, the album packs a lot into a little. Unfortunately the CD and cassette tape releases of both are out of print and have a high asking price on auction sites for a novelty album, but the internet is a black hole of stuff so of course you can stream the entire album from YouTube at your next holiday party!