****(out of four stars)
Easel Kill Ya is a Tales from the Crypt episode from the third season. The original air date was back in July of '91.
Tim Roth plays Jack Craig, a struggling painter with a questionable past. We learn that he once had some alcohol problems, yet seems to continue to struggle staying away from a drink. From the very start of the episode, we know that Jack isn't right in the head. It's in his demeanor and his eccentric behavior. He's certainly got some issues, and he's quite down on luck, having not sold a painting in over a year.
One night, while trying to paint, he gets into and argument with his neighbor who is playing his 80's metal way too loud. Jack accidentally knocks over a flower-pot that sits on his fire escape. The pot lands on the metal heads face, thus sending him airborne over the fire escape. The metal head lays in a pool of his own blood. Jack takes some Polaroids of the corpse and is inspired to paint it.
Wanting to make a profit from his painting, he ventures to an art studio owned by Malcolm Mayflower (William Atherton). Mayflower is interested in "morbid art" and immediately is obsessed with Jack's rendition of the dead metal head. He pays Jack a quick 2,000 for the painting and promises 20,000 for his next piece.
Jack's next "morbid art" will be inspired by the premeditated death of his landlady. She's pushed down a flight of stairs and a pair of shears pierces through her stomach. Jack immediately takes photos of his poor victim and begins to paint her. Once again he takes his art to Malcolm and once again he's paid greatly for it.
Sharon is Jack's love interest. Although Jack's paintings are a little odd, she finds him fascinating. They make love one evening, and right in the middle of the action, Jack sees Malcolm's face. He nearly crushes Malcolm's skull in with an alarm clock before realizing that the lovely Sharon is still beneath him. What a way to end the mood! Each character in this episode has equally disturbing issues, but when Sharon fails to leave the house after almost being bludgeoned by Jack, you know she's gotta be messed up.
Jack returns to Malcolm and tells him that the landlady "morbid artwork" is his final piece. Disappointed, Malcolm offers Jack 100,000 for his next art piece. Jack leaves Malcolm, not wanting to do any more art work.
Later, Sharon finds Polaroids of Jack's victims. If she were stupid enough to stick around after that, she'd deserve anything coming to her. She doesn't though, and she runs out of Jack's apartment, fearing for her life. As she runs, she's hit by a car. In the hospital Jack is informed that the best brain surgeon can fix his love. However, it won't come cheap and a whole lotta cash will be needed to perform such an operation. With Malcolm's proposition in mind, Jack heads out to find his next victim. He kills a man outside the hospital and paints an avant-gard style painting out of this victim. Malcolm is again very pleased with the latest piece and payday is rewarded to Jack, who then rushes back to the hospital. In the end, we learn that Jack killed the one surgeon that was set to do Sharon's surgery. In the final seconds of the episode, the cops find Jack a very credible suspect to the murder.
There are tons of great moments in this episode. As a whole it really shines. The performances are great; especially that of Tim Roth. I loved the story of the struggling artist who will do unspeakable acts for the sake of his art. Remember, Jack is desperate and broke. Desperate men (that are equally broke) can become dangerous men, as we've learned from this episode. The entire time I'm watching I'm also asking myself why wouldn't you just get a damn job? You must suffer for your art, no matter what it takes, and Jack Craig is no exception. But, like most of these morality tales, Jack ends up with the shitty end of the stick.
Starring: Tim Roth, William Atherton, Roya Megnot
Directed by: John Harrison
Written by: Larry Wilson
Original airdate: 7/17/91