Despite my love for serialized, short horror stories, as well as my love for old horror comics, would you believe that I never watched Tales from the Crypt? I do remember seeing one episode where someone was being mummified, and that involved a hook being shoved up the person’s nose to pull their brains out, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Every time I’m in Target and see those DVD sets that have multiple seasons for really cheap, I consider buying them. That’s when I realize that if I’m buying DVDs that I might as well be buying a bunch of VHS tapes and that would just be a terrible idea. I figured that the production value of the first theatrically released Tales from the Crypt story would be as good of a place to start with the series as any, and wouldn’t you know, it was on Netflix Instant! What a coincidence!
“A REAL MAN MAKES HIS OWN LUCK” – he says, before Will Smith beats the shit out of him.
The movie starts with a big fake out scene that involves a naked woman about to be killed, which is when The Cryptkeeper (which is a puppet voiced byJohn Kassir) yells “CUT!”, and we realize it’s a movie set. After a few punny jokes, the actual movie starts, and it opens with a car chase where Brayker (William Sadler) is being pursued by The Collector (Billy Zane). The chase results in a crash, and both characters are able to walk away from it. Brayker makes his way to a nearby town, but The Collector waits for the authorities to show up so that he can have their help in locating Brayker. After Brayker meets a few of the locals, The Collector arrives and we learn the gravity of the situation. Brayker is in possession of a flask of Jesus Christ’s blood, and The Collector is a demon who wants it back. Luckily, by dropping some of that blood in an entryway, it prevents The Collector, and some demons he’s summoned, from being able to get into the building where are the residents have made their way. There’s a few segments of The Collector trying to seduce the locals into helping him, lots of crazy practical effects, and even though Brayker might not survive the film, he passes the torch to Jada Pinkett Smith’s character, who spits that blood all over Billy Zane’s bald head, killing him. Her character leaves town, but shortly after leaving, we see that a new Collector has taken Billy Zane’s place, starting the whole thing over again! We then get to see The Cryptkeeper showing up at his movie premiere where he has his head cut off. I don’t think this is the last we’ll be seeing of this guy!
As you can see from this high-definition image, the creature effects must have been VERY expensive.
Although this movie is rife with mid-90’s cheese (I think we hear Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” at least twice), it’s also a ton of fun. A year after this movie came out, we got a funny, violent splatterfest with From Dusk Till Dawn, but if that movie hadn’t been so successful, I think this movie would have held up a lot longer. With Demon Knight, you get to have the great character actor William Sadler say more than just half a dozen lines, you get to see Billy Zane chewing the SHIT out of every scene he’s in, and you get ridiculous special effects. To try to switch things up from your typical demon/zombie/creature movie, the weakness of the demons was their eyes. You could chop a demon’s head off, but they would still fight back until you destroyed the eyes. Whether it was a shotgun blast shooting the eyes OUT of the head so they could be stepped on, or a severed head being smashed onto a set of antlers, there was enough eye mutilation to give even Lucio Fulci a boner. There was some sort of story about demons and Jesus and immortality or something like that, but I think I was too distracted from Thomas Haden Church getting his nipples erotically electrocuted to remember what those plot points were. Who gives a shit? The central plot of this movie only needed to last a little over an hour, which was all the steam it had, and was then bookended by a couple of silly scenes with The Cryptkeeper to remind you the tone of the whole movie was intended to be silly. The tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, Billy Zane’s performance, and some ridiculous special effects definitely make this an underrated, fun horror movie from the 90’s that’s worth another watch.
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