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My Favorite “Tales from the Crypt” Episode Starred Bill Paxton and Brad Dourif

As most horror sites, including ours, have made it a point to mention this past week, the late Bill Paxton gave so much to the horror genre over the years. He starred in my favorite horror sequel (Aliens), my favorite vampire film (Near Dark), and even my favorite episode of HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt,” which just goes to show much of a mark he made on both horror and the entertainment industry at large. Like many of his fans, I’ve spent much of this week revisiting Paxton’s work, and today I carved out some time for my all-time favorite “Tales” episode.

Episode 5 of Season 5, titled ‘People Who Live in Brass Hearses,was penned by the late Scott Nimerfro (“Hannibal”) and directed by Russel Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction), and it originally aired on October 13th, 1993. An adaptation of a tale from the Vault of Horror comic book series, the episode starred the dream team of Bill Paxton and Brad “Chucky” Dourif; Paxton played the role of Billy, an ex-con/former ice cream man with a serious butter fetish, and Dourif co-starred as Virgil, the little brother who does whatever his big brother says.

The two down-on-their-luck brothers, who don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out, plan to rob an ice cream warehouse together; not only do they need the money, but Billy wants to get revenge on ice cream man Mr. Byrd, who was responsible for him being locked up for two years. Billy was stealing from the company, you see, and the kind Mr. Byrd turned him in.

Naturally, things go horribly wrong at the warehouse, mostly thanks to Virgil’s ineptitude. Virgil and Billy brutally murder a warehouse worker and Mr. Byrd escapes, so they come up with an alternate plan: they’re going to break into Byrd’s house and steal his ice cream money. Of course, this being “Tales from the Crypt” and all, there’s a twist. And it’s a fun one.

At Byrd’s house, trigger-happy Virgil once again screws up, blowing the ice cream man’s head off with a shotgun. The twist? They only killed half of Mr. Byrd. As it turns out, Byrd and his Siamese twin brother are attached at the rear-end, and the unlucky brothers who decided to mess with them soon realize that the half of Byrd they killed was actually, well, his good side.

The evil twin lays waste to Billy and Virgil, then resumes his duties as the town’s (not-so-friendly) ice cream man. His brother’s rotting corpse is still attached. And the ice cream is 1/2 off.

A favorite since the first time I saw it as a kid (I’ve never looked at butter the same way again since seeing Paxton take a huge bite out of an entire stick), ‘People Who Live in Brass Hearses’ holds up to this day as one of the show’s most wildly entertaining outings. Driven by great performances from Paxton and Dourif, as well as Michael Lerner in the dual role of Mr. Byrd, the episode highlights everything I personally love about “Tales from the Crypt.” It’s funny, it’s gory, it’s wacky as can be, and it’s got one hell of a twist. It’s “Tales” perfection, as far as I’m concerned.

Looking back through the Bloody archives, Daniel Kurland put it in the #2 spot on last year’s list of the 15 best “Tales from the Crypt” episodes of all time. But for me, it’s #1.

You can watch ‘People Who Live in Brass Hearses’ below.


20 Comments
  • THGrimm

    Awe, yes! This episode was brilliant. Great cast and great twist.

  • Eastman420

    This is probably my favorite also. What’s Cookin, Television Terror and Death of a Salesman also in top episodes for me.

  • WALKTER

    Dourif was young once?

    • lonestarr357

      Then probably don’t check out One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Shit will blow your mind.

      • Michael Lee

        He acts the same

        • quantumbleep

          Umm no. In ‘Nest, he plays a timid, stuttering kind hearted psych patient. It’s mostly the opposite of what he usually plays.

  • Jeff Bly

    Nice! This made my top 10 favorites as well! Can’t go wrong with Paxton and Dourif.

  • Michael Lee

    I don’t get it, duh

  • AdamX

    I don’t think I have ever seen this one, well now I’ve something to do!

  • uriah369

    I love that episode, but I think my favorite was cutting cards (chop poker) with Lance Henriksen and Kevin Tighe. No disrespect to Paxton and Dourif of course, two of my favorite actors.

  • OmarComin’

    I think “Yellow” is the best episode.

    • Jimmy Cthulhuhan

      And I thought it was the worst (sort of) :-/

      Not that it was actually bad, it just didn’t fit the Crypt vibe at all. There were certainly worse episodes technically (final season says hi), yet I’d rather watch them. In my many marathon viewings, it is the only episode I tend to skip.

    • Runciter

      oh god I hated that so much

      • OmarComin’

        Why?

        • Runciter

          What the other guy said.
          Well, actually it’s not just because it didn’t have the usual fun, cheesy silliness of the show, but it reminded me (for obvious reasons) to Paths of Glory, and I really don’t like Paths of Glory.

          So it might just be me.

  • Sasha Kozak

    Rewatching some of these again I was expecting them to not be as enjoyable but I actually appreciate many of them even more now.

  • dan houle

    Freakin’ Murder One & we didn’t get shiiiit.

  • Barbara A. Wilson

    They also did a Hitchhiker episode together. Very strange . . .

    • Mr ComedicGenius

      Listen fella, i spent my whole day looking for that episode. Does NOT exist!!! Am I missing something? Please show me, would love to see it 🙂

      • Barbara A. Wilson

        Sorry. It was Bud Cort, not Brad Dourif. And it does exist. Something involving poison wine.

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