In the summer of 1996, a Saturday morning children’s game show premiered on CBS. It was hosted by someone who went on to... well he was good here at least. The show was filled with early CGI and had players “interacting” with floating skulls and talking skeletons. The weirdest thing about this show was that it was a spinoff of the adult horror show Tales From The Crypt on HBO.
Filmed at Universal Studios Florida, Secrets of the Cryptkeepers Haunted House pitted two teams of two kids against each other each week in a series of games. These games often involved CGI elements, similar to some of the challenges seen on NickArcade, which aired a few years before the CBS show. But the CGI here was more elaborate and I guess, at the time at least, better...? You be the judge.
Sadly, I was unable to find any behind the scenes photos or videos of what these challenges actually looked like to the kids doing them. My guess would be a lot of green or blue paint and producers shouting and throwing stuff at them while the kids think to themselves “Why did I agree to do this?”
Not every challenge involved kids playing around in sad, empty rooms covered in green paint and bright lights. Some instead used cheap effects and oddly mundane puzzles. One challenge had kids spelling words about things like sports or school. Sure, the walls are closing in and the kids have a limited time, but honestly, if this is what you were doing while your friends and family got to go ride King Kong and Jaws, I’d be stoked to get crushed and leave.
Modern, older, grumpier Zack might be down on Secrets of the-whatever-the-rest-of-the-long-name-is, but back in the day, I was so into this show.
I remember 10 years old me thinking that this is the future. That these digital sets and games would be how we just do... well, everything! I was a bit scared whenever the Cryptkeeper would appear, but the crappy puppet and terrible writing quickly made it clear that the average cold was more dangerous than this Larry King-looking asshole. I also lived in Florida, less than an hour away from Universal Studios. So I always assumed if I could just convince my parents to take me there, they would let me visit the CGI skull and ride the CGI train.
Dear readers, I never got to do any of that. And before I was old enough to participate, and after only a year on CBS, it was canceled. But in that short time, it did earn an Emmy nomination. Today, there’s no way to rent or buy any episodes of this show. Instead, it only lives on through low-quality YouTube uploads and old websites.
And considering how nobody cares about this show and how, let’s say, irrelevant the Crpytkeeper is in 2020, it’s unlikely Netflix will get any episodes of this show anytime soon. Sorry, kiddies, this one is DEAD and BURIED.