About Christmas TV History

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tales from the Crypt Christmas (1989)

Did you ever watch the horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt on HBO?
Last week, I discussed the 1972 horror movie Tales from the Crypt and its first segment which takes place at Christmas. Click here to see that post again. The original source material that inspired the movie segment was adapted again in 1989 for an episode of the HBO horror series Tales from the Crypt. The TV episode, also entitled "And All Through the House," is slightly longer than the 1972 movie version and includes more action. Have you seen either filmed versions before? Have you read the original 1954 horror comic? You're in for a treat.

HBO's Tales from the Crypt's Crypt Keeper dresses as Santa Claus to introduce this holiday episode.

Not everyone is happy this Christmas.

The episode begins with an ideal Christmas setting. We see an inviting living room, a roaring fire in the fireplace, snow gently falling outside, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and Nat King Cole's "A Christmas Song" playing on the radio nearby. But the tone quickly changes. Without an explanation, the wife strikes and kills her husband with a fireplace poker!

We learn that the murder was planned and she's now a wealthy woman.

The noise startles her young daughter out of bed and Carrie calls for her mother from the top of the stairs, asking if Santa has arrived yet. Hiding her misdeed, the woman sends Carrie back to bed until morning. Next, she checks on her husband's life insurance policy and she makes a phone call to her boyfriend. Viewers are quickly caught up to speed. The story's tension begins to grow.

The wife methodically cleans up and removes the body from the home.

The woman sets out to carefully clean up the blood and remove the body from the living room. As cheerful, festive carols play on the radio, we watch the wife's purposeful,  cover-up of her dark crime. After opening the front door and dragging the body outside, we hear a public service announcement on the radio. A criminally insane murderer dressed in a Santa suit has escaped from a nearby mental hospital. People are warned to lock their windows and doors until he is caught by the police. Too bad she didn't hear the warning!

Is there someone out there?

While she's in the yard, about to use an ax to chop up her husband (to more easily dispose of and hide the corpse), she's attacked by a madman in a Santa suit! She runs back inside the house and telephones the police. Before completing the call, we can read on her face that she has a problem. If the police arrive, they'll discover how she murdered her husband--so she hangs up the phone. Meanwhile, the deranged Santa is outside the house, running from window to window, looking for a way in. The tension continues to build in this wicked story.

Will this be the end for the murdering wife?

Just when you think you can't take it anymore, the murderous Santa breaks through a glass window and grabs the wife. In the struggle she's able to reach for the ax and hit him over the head. The madman falls back into the snow in the yard unconscious. The phone rings and the wife answers--it's the police warning her about a criminally insane Santa Claus roaming the neighborhood! (She was outside and didn't hear the radio broadcast that we heard). The police say they are on their way to her neighborhood where they're going door-to-door to search for the dangerous man. Now she knows she has 20 minutes. Taking advantage of an opportunity, she begins rehearsing her story about how the murderous Santa Claus came to her home and KILLED HER HUSBAND! Poor girl, what a victim.

Uh-oh. Santa is missing!

She looks out the window again at the Santa Claus lying in the snow and she decides to more properly frame him for her husband's murder. She goes outside with the ax and uhm....repeatedly applies it to the corpse...to make it look like he was killed with an ax. Then she goes inside and makes a 9-1-1 phone call reporting her husband's murder by the deranged Santa Claus. Glancing out the window again, she sees that Santa Claus is no longer on the ground in the snow!

Santa is climbing a ladder to enter the house through Carrie's bedroom window.

To protect herself, she races upstairs to find a gun hidden in a closet. Looking outside from an upstairs window, she sees the scary Santa has spotted a window ajar on the second floor. He's placing a ladder against the house to climb up and enter through her daughter's bedroom window.  Scrambling to escape the closet, the woman runs through the house looking to protect her daughter.

Santa says "Naughty or nice?"

From the top of the stairs, she can see her daughter by the front entrance. Carrie says, "See Mommy. I told you Santa would come!" The little girl is so proud because Santa didn't have to climb down the chimney--she let him in the front door! Don't worry, readers. Santa doesn't look like he's going to hurt Carrie. In the final shot, he only seems interested in the murderous wife.

This episode's story is wonderfully efficient and the tension is just right. The episode's director is Robert Zemeckis--a master at his craft who went on to win an Academy Award for Best Director for the film Forrest Gump. Christmas entertainment fans know that he directed both Polar Express and Disney's Christmas Carol as well.

Whether you prefer the 1972 movie version or the 1989 TV adaptation of "And All Through the House," this thrilling and scary Christmas story makes a fun night of entertainment during Halloween too.


  1. I still have nightmares about this episode. That psycho Santa had the scariest teeth! Like yellow fangs :P

    1. Ugh--you're right! I hope that detail doesn't follow me into my dreams too! LOL Thanks for commenting :)