"A shocking experience! When the death penalty is abolished, a penitentiary executioner turns freelance electrocutioner. But fate may pull a switch on this man who loves to throw the switch."

-- DVD description for the episode

The Man Who Was Death

'The Man Who Was Death' is the 1st episode of the 1st season and the 1st episode overall. It aired June 10, 1989 on HBO and was directed by Walter Hill, while written by Walter Hill and Robert Reneau. The source for the episode came from the #17 of the Crypt of Terror comic.

The episode starts with a close up of Charles Ledbetter, a prison who is about to be executed. Niles Talbot ex


plains that a few years back, Ledbetter was thinking about the pay raise he was refused while drinking vodka at lunch, since he worked at his job for over 7 years and didn't have much to show for it, in a fit of drunken rage, Ledbetter took a .45 from the glove compartment of his car, and used it to kill his boss, Joe Saylor, and a secretary in the process. It is now the night of his execution, and as Ledbetter is being brought to the electric chair, he was screaming "The governor's gonna call! He's gonna give me a stay! He's got to!" At the order of the warden, Niles threw the switch, and Ledbetter was executed. He seems to take joy in his job. Niles says that he's a country boy, but he loves the city. In the beginning of his adult years he was an electrician and got hired by the prison repairing the power generators, and a few years later, he became the new executioner. Niles claims to use electricity because "You can trust it." In execution, he doesn't believe in using gas chambers or lethal injections, claiming that's a method to kill rabid or terminally ill animals only, not for a man. For a man, in his case, it had to be the electric chair. He even knows that some myths of the electric chair wasn't true like black blood coming out of someone's mouth or someone foaming at the mouth. However some heads were known to smoke afterwards. That night, Niles goes into a diner for a cheese sandwich and coffee when he sees the TV news where a news lady reports about an argument to ban the death penalty for some say if banned, it will increase the crime rate, and cause overcrowding in the prisons, and some say that execution is still qualified as murder. The next day, Niles was fired as the executioner for the death penalty was banned, and Niles can't get his old job as the electrician because Niles trained someone to take over the job before he was reassigned, and the warden thought it would be for the best because the prisoners know he is the man who executed the prisoners. Niles said is anyone in the prison gets out of line, he can handle everything. The warden still can't have that because of the rules, even though he sees Niles as a dear friend. The next day, a biker named Jimmy Flood was on trial for murder. He is found guilty but is acquitted because the arrest warrant was misworded. Niles was in his garage after court saying "I don't have anything against bikers. I used to own a hog myself once upon a time. You see, bikers are free spirited. They don't believe in the rules, they just go where the wind takes them. Now this biker, Jimmy Flood, he went out of line, and he oughta pay." That night, Jimmy Flood was driving by on his bike and was trying to break into a fenced property, but in the process was killed because Niles hooked up the metal gate with electric wires, which everyone believed was a fallen phone wire that caused all this. At the next trial, Theodor Carne and Cynthia Baldwin was on trial for murder in the first degree, and were both found not guilty. Niles said Carne was cheating on his wife with Cynthia and divorce was out of the question, considering for the fact that his wife has full control of the money, so he and Cynthia arranged the murder. He came in their home and used their hot tub to electrocute then. After a failed attempt on a hookers life he is busted and the death penalty is reintroduced and he is next. His last words were "I was only doing my job". As he was executed his final thoughts were "I didn't want a haircut. They told me it was a big mistake because my hair would catch on fire when they juice me. I told them 'Don't worry, the governor's gonna call'"

Cast :

William Sadler ...

Niles Talbot (as Bill Sadler)

J.W. Smith ... Charley Ledbetter
Roy Brocksmith ... Vic
David Wohl ... Warden Havers
Gerrit Graham ... Theodore Carne
Dani Minnick ... Cynthia Baldwin
Tony Abatemarco ... Detective
Mimi Kennedy ... Distraught Woman
Robert Winley ... Jimmy Flood
Eve Brent ... Judge #1
Edgar Small ... Judge #2
Mark Lowenthal ... District Attorney
F.J. O'Neil ... Priest
Raymond O'Connor ... Jury Foreman (as Raymond O'Conner)
Jennifer Evans ... Newscaster #1 (as M. Jennifer Evans)
Patti Yasutake ... Newscaster #2
Al Allen ... Attorney (as 'Al' M. Allen)
Kate Benton ... Waitress
Julie Ann Lucas ... Second Waitress
Ed DeFusco ... New Executioner
Laura Albert ... Go-Go Dancer
Johnnie Johnson III ... John (uncredited)
D. David Morin ... FBI Detective (uncredited)

Opening Segment Edit


The crypt keeper is seen talking to dead files after they get zapped and then he talks about tonights story

Closing Segment Edit

The crypt keeper then tells us the moral of the story and pulls the switch on the electric chair which he is on


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