Tales from the Crypt – People Who Live in Brass Hearses (10/13/93)

tftcpeoplewho01How the hell is this thing rated as the 10th best episode of the series on IMDb?

In retrospect, I jumped the gun.  The episode did get off to an abysmal start. First, there is the presence of the worst actor ever to make a good living at it, Bill Paxton. He is about as obnoxious as usual without the redeeming qualities that occasionally make him interesting.  Add in a wife-beater, a mullet and some god-awful tattoos and he nearly crashes the episode on take-off.  Luckily, Brad Dourif is on hand to take the controls and add some gravitas to the acting.

However, the episode quickly establishes itself as being exactly what TFTC does best, and should do more often.  It had laughs, gore, surprises, and some over-the-top scenes. The only minor non-Paxtoncentric criticism — nay, observation — is that they have featured Siamese twins in two, dare I say, back-to-back episodes.

Paxton — and does it really matter what his character is named? — has just gotten out of jail.  He lives with his brother Virgil who is clearly meant to be “slow.”  However, Virgil is at least reading a comic book (Jesse James vs. Predator), while Paxton is pacing like an animal, slapping the staticky TV, and snacking on a stick of butter.  Kudos on the butter thing, though — that was the first sign of life that turned this episode around for me.

tftcpeoplewho02Paxton reviews their plan for the great ice cream warehouse heist.  He blows up at Virgil who forgets that he must disengage the fire alarm before unlocking the door.  To be fair, though, fire doesn’t generally care whether a door is locked or not.  Maybe disengaging the burglar alarm would be more productive.

Paxton and Virgil take their Impala out to meet the local ice cream truck.  Paxton is upset that the driver Mr. Byrd ratted him out from stealing money from his own ice cream truck route, and cost him 2 years in prison.  I’m not sure what this scene accomplishes other than introducing Mr. Byrd, and giving Paxton a chance to attempt to order butternut, butter brickle, and buttermilk before settling on butterscotch.  For some reason, this butter humor is killing me.

Paxton goes to the ice cream warehouse where Virgil works.  There is some wheel-spinning while we meet the manager, and hear Mr. Byrd trying to get his truck resupplied.  It is worth the wait, though, to see how Virgil screws up his assignment.  When you’re in a gang with Bill Paxton and you aren’t the brains of the operation, that is a bad sign.

tftcpeoplewho03The episode is only about 20 minutes once you skip the odious Cryptkeeper.  They were wise not to pad it out, as there is surprise after surprise from here on out.   Sometimes it is a dead body, sometimes it is a grappling hook, sometimes a gunshot.  It just goes down like butter.

This is too rich to spoil — I rate it 3 scoops.

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Pathetic — no brass and and no hearses are to be seen in the episode.  C’mon, with a story built around an I-scream truck, you couldn’t come up with anything?
  • “Impala is a kind of horse, right Billy?”

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