Director: Russell Mulcahy
Writer: Scott Nimerfro
Cast: Bill Paxton, Lainie Kazan, Brad Dourif, Michael Lerner, John Kassir, Pat Asanti, and Raushan Hamond
Composer: Brad Fiedel
Air Date: 10/13/1993
With the help of his mentally challenged brother Virgil (Brad Dourif), ex-con Billy DeLuca (Bill Paxton) attempts to take revenge on ice cream vendor Mr. Byrd (Michael Lerner)—the man responsible for Billy’s two-year prison sentence. While robbing a warehouse operated by Virgil’s annoying employer Mrs. Grafungar (Lainie Kazan), however, things go horribly awry for the DeLuca brothers.
Combining top-notch gore effects (e.g. severed limbs and gunshot wounds) with comedic undertones, “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” should be mandatory viewing for Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts. Especially terrific are the performances of Bill Paxton (known to horror fans for appearing in Aliens, Near Dark, and The Terminator) and Oscar nominee Brad Dourif, the antics of whom serve to simultaneously disgust and amuse the audience.
Despite complying with the immoral plans of his brother, the character of Virgil—a grown man who spends his time reading comic books and debating whether Robocop, Darth Vader, or the Munsters would win in a fight—exhibits many childlike tendencies that may, at times, evoke sympathy from those of a sensitive or compassionate nature. On more than one occasion, for example, Virgil recoils in fear and struggles to maintain his composure when insulted by Billy or Mrs. Grafungar—a pitiful, albeit convincing, portrayal of a person with extremely low intelligence and emotional maturity.
“People Who Live in Brass Hearses” is marred by an illogical, if not absurd, twist in the climactic scene.
Though hardly profound or thought-provoking, “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” contains a worthwhile lesson on the dangers of consuming oneself with hate, bitterness, or vengeful ideas prompted by past offenses.
“People Who Live in Brass Hearses” is a clever, entertaining episode of Tales from the Crypt. Black comedy buffs are therefore advised to view this offering, which, in spite of its over-the-top subject matter, benefits from the combined efforts of Paxton and Dourif—two exceptionally talented character actors.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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