Tales from the Crypt (1996)

Season 2 Episode 16

Television Terror

Aired Unknown Jul 17, 1990 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
131 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

An arrogant television tabloid host, trying to get big ratings decides to take his crew inside a genuine haunted house rumored to be haunted by an old woman who killed half a dozen victims.

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  • Terrifying Tale, with a terrifying Climax

    This is one of the stories that not only is very scary and surreal, it's the visual images that really bring out the scares and the screams too. The story is about a reporter played by Morton Downey Jr., no relation to Robert Downey Jr, who has found a haunted house in Los Angeles, CA, that based on reports, was inhabited by a woman who killed many people for there insurance money. He thinks he's going to find something that will knock the ratings through the roof, but really he's gets far deep into the place, hoping for high ratings. The house although looking a little quaint at first, is something that most people would not date to go into, if they were wise to believe the warnings. Unfortunately, he believes that profit, and high ratings are what counts, so he and the cameraman venture into the unknown to check out the house. The episode to me is one of the scariest, even though it's a tad shorter that most of the other episodes. I also like the fact that although it came out in the early 90's it has that ghost detective type vibe to it, like many shows of the present. The show like many of it's time, of course still has some cheesy elements, but this one in particular is like Halloween Candy of TFDS, it's genuine and disturbing, with all the terror and intrigue, leading up to a very uncomfortable conclusion, which is exactly what the loud mouth, egotistical, and self-centered reporter got in the end, and supposedly even deserved from the viewpoints and the emotions of the people behind the scenes in the end. This is one of those episodes, where you start to wonder if the legend was really real which is what sets off the terror from the beginning, and with all the strange supernatural happenings by the end, espicially when a person has their throat cut, and the hanging cameraman, it's ends any sort of confusion about what is going on there. Every episode has it's moments, and this one is definitely a terrifying episode of the show by far. From the atmosphere, the blood on the door, the zombies on the staircase, to the very end, it's one of the series most disturbing as well as entertaining, although it's short.moreless
  • My Second Favorite Episode

    Another series classic this is for sure, very well written and overall very cool. Television Terror is the name of this episode of Terror in which a shock Jock TV talk show host (much in the style of a Heraldo Rivera) is too enter with a TV camera to document his journey live to the public. His name is Horton Rivers played by the incorrigible chain smoking talk show host Morton Downy Jr. Once they enter the house a series of events occur caused by psychic impressions, spirits and other poltergeists that cause quite a ruckus. Will Horton Rivers and his cohort survive this tale of Horror find out on the season two set DVD of Tales from the crypt?moreless
  • Don'tcha just love it when you see a certain episode of a TV show, and it can still freak you out years after you've seen it?

    I love haunted houses. Hey, just look at my favourite shows; Kolchak, Twilight Zone, Masters of Horror, Most Haunted, etc. The only thing I like better than haunted houses is investigating haunted houses (did I mention that Most Haunted is one of my fave shows??). This episode certainly doesn't disappoint. From the opening screen shot and the creepy piano music, i knew this one was gonna be good. Wandering through the old house, though, got my nerves up. When the visions started, my hair stood up on end. By the time the cameraman was swinging from the chandelier (and I don't mean like Tarzan, either), I was chewing all my fingernails to the proverbial bone. Great episode from start to finish.moreless
  • This reporter will do anything for ratings!

    This is such a classic episode because it stands out the most to me. It's about this loud, antsy reporter who is about to enter an abandoned haunted house. According to the legend Ada Ritter had killed many men. This show is so creepy, especially since it's just the reporter and a camera man going through this dark, creepy house. Once they start to experience weird phenomenon, this story just gets better.moreless
  • One of the spookiest episodes of the series

    Tales from the Crypt's episodes spanned a variety of sub-genres, not just horror. Many were lightly humorous, with not much in terms of suspense. I enjoyed those, too, for instance "What's Cooking," starring the late Christopher Reeve, or "Korman's Kalamity." But of the darker, more genuinely "horror" episodes, this has got to be my favorite. I never thought much of Morton Downey in his own show, but he was great in this episode. The darkened haunted house was very creepy and they managed to get me to jump at the right times. Even today, having watched it several times over the years, my skin still crawls as the climax approaches.moreless
Charles Picerni

Charles Picerni

Morton Downey, Jr. Stunt Double #2

Guest Star

Steve Picerni

Steve Picerni

Man on Staircase

Guest Star

Ami Rothschild

Ami Rothschild


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Horton Rivers: Don't leave me. [points at a man, off screen.] Bernie-boy, the scissors.

    • Horton Rivers: Rumours of ghosts, voices in the night weird lights and sound. Nonsence? Or is this modern day chamber of horrors truly haunted? Tonight, we'll find out. Because I'm going inside the Ritter house, ah, and you'll be with me on this special haunting edition of "Horton Rivers Live."

    • Horton Rivers: Mass murder, dismemberment, suicide. It all happened right here on this quiet street in the heart of Los Angeles. Within the walls of the once stately manor right behind me, Ada Ritter, aging matriarch of the Ritter home boarding house, routinely murdered her elderly guests for their social security cheques. The bodies were dismembered and buried in the basement. Twelve victims in all. Police speculate there may have been more. Only Ada Ritter, whos suicide prompted the investigation, knew for sure.

    • [Opening wraparound segment with the Crypt Keeper video taping himself]
      The Crypt Keeper: Hi, mom [laughs]! I just love home videos, don't you? Especially when the home is haunted. Tonight's twisted tale, my dear couch potatoes, is filed under "T" for television. Or should that be terror? Mr. Horton Rivers is about to find out, so stay tuned to this totally titillating tube. [laughs].

      [Closing wraparound segment]
      The Crypt Keeper: [cackles and laughs] Oh, that Horton. He's a real swinger. He hangs out in all the right places. No wonder he's such a hit on live, or is it dead TV. [laughs]

  • NOTES (2)


    • The Mystery Of Al Capone's Vault

      In a 1986 nationally broadcasted television special entitled, "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault", journalist Geraldo Rivera lead a digging team to an old Chicago Hotel where notorious ganster Al Capone once lived. There they began to dig through the cellar hoping to find something of note (perhaps guns, dead bodies, old barrels of whiskey, etc.). The special was widely watched and very suspenseful, but Geraldo and his team ended up finding nothing of significance.

      In this episode, when it appears Horton has found absolutely nothing in the haunted house, Sam says, "Hey, the show's dragging. They're afraid it's going to be another Al Capone's Vault". The character name, "Horton Rivers" is somewhat of a combination of the names "Geraldo Rivera" and the star of the episode, "Morton Downey, Jr."