Tales From the Crypt – Easel Kill Ya (S3E8)


Mondrian with less ambition, but about the same amount of talent

Jack Craig (Tim Roth) is an artist whose talent would not even get him a showing in Night Gallery.

A gallery owner is in his loft looking at his work and deems it unworthy of a showing.  She suggests that he start drinking again, but the alcohol might be put to better use if served to the viewers.

Jack has the standard daydream where fantasizes killing his adversary — in this case, planting the business end of a ball-peen hammer in her skull.  Next we see Jack in Obsessives Anonymous, a 12-step type of group.  His problems have been linked to alcohol, but I guess AA has their group trademarked.  He admits that he thinks he would have enjoyed killing her.  “But you didn’t — you faced your demon,” the group leader tells him.  If simply not planting a hammer in someone’s skull is considered a victory, that’s got to be one of the early steps.

tftceasel11Sharon from the group approaches him in the parking lot.  He has not sold a painting in a year, and she wants to be his inspiration to paint a masterpiece.  So they end up in his loft.  Somehow her showing a little leg breaks his mood.

That night, when confronting a noisy neighbor, Jack accidentally causes him to fall from the fire escape and die.  Looking down at the dead body, he is inspired to take his art in a new direction and paints the punk lying dead in the ally.

This is just the kind of morbid art that billionaire Malcolm Mayflower (William Atherton) collects, so Jack pays him a visit with the painting.  Mayflower buys the painting, but only for $200.  But he promises Jack $20,000 for the next one.

tftceasel21Needing more inspiration, he pushes his landlady down the stairs, killing her.  Ca-ching! Jack wants to stop, but Mayflower offers him $100,000 for a third painting.

When Sharon discovers what he has been doing, she runs away.  As Jack chases her, she runs across the street and is hit by a car in a very well staged stunt.  Needing $100,000 for the operation that will save her, he kills again.

Turns out he killed the surgeon who could have saved Sharon.  Doh!  And by leaving his brush at the scene, he led the police right to him.

tftceasel33Meh.  A pretty somber affair.  Too many of the directors forget that this series should have an element of fun to it.  Tim Roth is great as always, but it is played completely straight.  There is a nice closing shot, however, of him looking through some blinds as they close on him.


  • Title Analysis:  Being a fairly somber episode, maybe they shouldn’t have gone for the pun at all.  First of all, kudos for it being relevant to the episode after non-sequiturs such as Abra Cadaver and Dead Wait.  Sadly, however, it is still a failure.  I assume they were playing off of the phrase “this’ll kill ya” but “easel” is just to much of a stretch.  Coincidentally, there is an episode next season  called “This’ll Kill Ya.”
  • This was a year before Reservoir Dogs and three years before Pulp Fiction.
  • William Atherton is not playing his usual dickish self (Die Hard, Ghostbusters, the forgotten Real Genius, etc).  Normal just doesn’t suit him.

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