Tales from the Crypt (1989–1996)
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The year is 1918. During World War I, somewhere in France, it's the 49th day of continuous battle on the front lines. Lieutenant Martin Kalthrob doesn't want to be in the army anymore and ... See full summary »


Robert Zemeckis


Gilbert Adler (screenplay), Steven Dodd (creator) | 3 more credits »

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Episode cast overview:
Kirk Douglas ... General Kalthrob
Eric Douglas ... Lt. Martin Kalthrob
Lance Henriksen ... Sergeant Ripper
Dan Aykroyd ... Captain Milligan
John Kassir ... Crypt Keeper (voice)
Dominick Morra Dominick Morra ... Priest
Steve Boyum ... King
Chuck Picerni Jr. Chuck Picerni Jr. ... Jones (as Charles Picerni Jr.)
Anthony Gallo Anthony Gallo ... Corporal
R. David Smith ... Soldier


The year is 1918. During World War I, somewhere in France, it's the 49th day of continuous battle on the front lines. Lieutenant Martin Kalthrob doesn't want to be in the army anymore and asks his father, General Kalthrob, for a discharge. His father refuses but says he will transfer him to the rear if he leads a patrol to the German lines and fix the broken communication line. When he proves himself to be a coward, his father orders a court martial with penalty of death by firing squad. Written by grrlpunk

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Parents Guide:

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English | German

Release Date:

28 August 1991 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Eric Douglas (Lt. Martin Kalthrob) was the real life son of Kirk Douglas (General Kalthrob). See more »


Crypt Keeper: I guess Martin finally learned his lesson. No guts, no gory!
[the Crypt Keeper laughs as it shows him tied up to a tree]
Crypt Keeper: Well, gut to go kiddies. It's time for my shots.
[turns the guns onto himself]
Crypt Keeper: Fire!
[the Crypt Keeper sets off the guns that shoot him as he chuckles upon not being harmed by the bullets]
Crypt Keeper: Yes, yes, oh yes. Boy I get a bang out of that.
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Edited into Two-Fisted Tales (1992) See more »


Tales from the Crypt Theme
Composed by Danny Elfman
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User Reviews

The futility and the slaughter
28 July 2013 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

One of Kirk Douglas's very few television roles was in this episode of Tales From The Crypt. He plays an American general in World War I who has the distasteful duty of dealing with his real life son Eric who plays a cowardly lieutenant who leaves Sergeant Lance Henriksen out in No Man's Land on a patrol. The dying Henriksen condemns him and Kirk has no choice but to order a court martial for his son.

At the beginning of the show it is emphasized that the company had been 49 straight days on the line in combat and World War I saw the futility and slaughter that was trench warfare. A stalemate of four years where gains were measured in yards. Eric who never wanted a military career and did it only to please his father now faces death.

One of Kirk Douglas's best films is Paths Of Glory also with a World War I setting and dealing with a whole division of French soldiers who've decided they just had enough. The parallels between that classic and this television episode are too obvious to ignore.

And in real life Eric Douglas predeceased his parents the most awful tragedy that any parent can face. Both Douglases, Henriksen, and Dan Ackroyd as a captain give fine performances in one of the best Tales Of The Crypt episodes ever done. No supernatural here, the hell created is war, a man made invention.

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