I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned to everyone I know this month, “go watch Demon Knight, it’s batshit insane in all the best ways”. Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight was supposed to kick off a Tales From The Crypt cinematic experiment. The film is followed by Bordello Of Blood (decent movie, in case you want to see Dennis Miller playing Dennis Miller), which had the artifact from this film making an appearance. Demon Knight features Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett, Brenda Bakke, C. C. H. Pounder, Dick Miller, and Thomas Haden Church.
The film received horrific reviews at the time of release with some stating that the film was neither scary enough or funny enough to be much of anything. These days, people can see the film for what it is, and recognize the greatness of some of the performances and its story. Billy Zane in particular absolutely smashes his role as The Collector. In a zany, almost cartoonish performance, he tries to woo the group of survivors in a small New Mexico desert town. Through the whole film he routinely steals the scene whenever he’s on screen. Of 90s Horror movie villains, he certainly makes a mark.
The film has an interesting structure that borrows heavily from siege movies and zombie movies. The Collector has an army of demons at his control that attack and pick off the group. The hero of the first half is Frank Brayker (Sadler). Personally, William Sadler is one of my favorite actors ever, so this performance is a real treat.
Cross Assault On Precinct 13 And Evil Dead
For horror fans out there, you’ll see all the different influences on Demon Knight. It combines elements of those movies with Biblical aspects and immortality. It was made at that intersection of CGI and practical effects, but because the budget was shoe-string, they used only practical effects and in-camera tricks. The story here is all about temptation and how the devil will do whatever it takes to get what they want.
What really works here is that the religious aspects of the film aren’t over the top. You’re not hit over the head with Christianity. William Brayker is no Saint, he’s just trying to keep this artifact out of the wrong hands. That same feeling transfers over when he sadly meets his end. That job of keeping the artifact safe transfers over to Jeryline (Pinkett). She takes over the second half of the film and goes toe-to-toe with Billy Zane.
The final climactic scenes in the film give us an ahead-of-its-time ending with Jeryline besting the Collector and going back on the run. It sets up for a follow-up story with a new Collector in tow trailing after her.
Give This One A Shot If You’re In Need Of A Forgotten Gem This Halloween
This one would have slipped through the cracks for me if not for Scream Factory. Their release of the film caught my eye and upon seeing that William Sadler was in the film, I bought it. Luckily for me, because this is a fast-paced, energetic film that combines practical effects with an awesome story. The performances in the film carry it the whole way. It’s too bad that we never got a continuation of this whole Tales From The Crypt saga. The next two films were supposed to be Dead Easy, a zombie film set in New Orleans and Body Count. However, the poor performance of Bordello of Blood destroyed any sort of momentum that had.
This was slotted in the January death-spot for film releases. It made a decent profit from its $12 million budget. What we’re left with is a classic feeling film that has lots of 90s nostalgia, practical effects, and Billy Zane having the time of his life as the villain. If you get the chance, go grab the Scream Factory Blu-ray. It has tons of special features for fans of the film. It’s also just the best that the film has ever looked. For a movie from the 90s, the visuals and effects have held up reasonably well.
This is a great one to pair with a more well-known horror movie for a double feature, or you can run your own movie marathon with Demon Knight.
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