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Hello, Kiddie! Ready for Your Dead-Time Story? Frights...Camera...Action!!

  • Oct 13, 2009
Rating:
+4
 Inspired by the comic series and by the HBO series, “TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT” is a full-length feature film directed by Ernest Dickerson. Its scenario is very similar to “Night of the Demons” although with a different storyline that centers around the struggle for an ancient artifact between its guardian and a high-level demon. The film has beautiful gore effects, a good story, bad supporting characters but the movie is sure a lot of fun to watch!

In the beginning, before God created the Earth and was enveloped in darkness; demons had 7 keys that allowed them to channel the power of the cosmos until God said “Let there be light” and the darkness was vanquished and the Earth was formed. God scattered the keys throughout the universe. The demons have journeyed far in the universe to search for the missing keys and open the gates of hell. Now, present day in an isolated town, a key is being guarded by a mysterious man called Brayker (William Sadler) who is being pursued by a high-level demon called the Collector (Billy Zane). Brayker takes refuge in an old church now turned into a cheap hotel ran by a woman named Irene (CCH Pounder). Together with the small group of people holed up in the building, Brayker intends to fight off the demon horde from possessing the last key; a key that contains some of the blood of Christ…but can they survive the night?

  Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
 
“Demon Knight” is the type of movie just screams ‘cult classic’. The basic structure of the film’s screenplay is about good vs. evil with elements of action, horror, dark comedy and fantasy dispersed throughout. I have to admit, the film isn’t a scary experience and director Dickerson intended it to be this way. The plot was nicely laid out for the viewer and Dickerson helps us understand more details as we get into the flashbacks about the key and its guardian that gives us an insight. The plot is pretty interesting and while I thought that the film could’ve have used more details about the other ‘knights’ who held the key from the other time periods. We know that there were at least two others who guarded the key; a thief named Sirach who lived during the time of Christ and a soldier named Dickerson (a reference to the director) in 1917. Brayker is the latest guardian, and until his day of reckoning, he is immune to aging and natural death but he can be killed by other means. The blood in the key is strengthened by the guardian’s sacrifice although it is the blood of Christ that really keeps the demons at bay. I guess the part that I liked the most about “Demon Knight” is the fact that the movie is about destiny and sacrifice that gives it a very mythical feel that blends in elements from the Scriptures and modern day legends.
 
The film follows the established trappings for a movie such as this. The evil side led by the Collector is obviously greater in number and power while the good side is hampered by certain human flaws such as greed, ambition and betrayal; which makes it weak and flawed. But, the good side while weak and small in number have a secret weapon; a key (or a cask) that contains the blood of the Son of God. The Blood of the Guardian also strengthens the remaining blood, so really, for the journey to go on, a guardian is destined to fight a final struggle. 

      Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
 
I’ve said that the film is quite action-packed and it is; there are guns a-blazing, explosions as our human protagonists confront the demon horde. I enjoyed the way the low-level demons are dispatched, only instead of the head, it is through the eyes. Besides this, I enjoyed the blood and gore effects executed with the use of prosthetics and red ink. The sight of opened stomachs, entrails and torn off limbs are enough to satisfy the gore hound. Sorry, but CGI just doesn’t work for me in a horror movie; call me old school but horror works best with old school effects. The demons also look pretty cool and appears to be a cross between ghoulish features and half-burned vampires. They are nearly skeletons who just went on a diet with big heads and glowing green eyes. I also liked the make up effects in the film that reminded me a little of “Evil Dead”.
 
The story stays its course and keeps its focus. In the first act, we know that Brayker came to this place for a final confrontation and director Dickerson gives us subtle hints that there is something special about Jeryline (Jada Pinkett, before she got married to Will Smith) and that the Collector is a supernatural being as we witness his survival of an explosion. The most developed characters are Jeryline and Brayker; an ex-con with a good heart and a wandering warrior. However, the rest of the characters range from being underdeveloped and just flat out one-dimensional. I know most of them were just in it to be slaughtered but the supporting characters had a very weak range. Cordelia (Brenda Bakke) is a hooker who wants to be loved, uncle Willie (Dick Miller) is a drunk who wants to be somebody and they are tempted by their own desires (little surprise). Roach (Thomas Haden Church) is a cockroach, who plays the selfish slime ball. The film does borrow certain stereotypical characters from other movies. Ok, Irene shows some depth as I was taken by surprise by her final act. Billy Zane plays an awesome “Collector” and this is where some bits of the film’s grim humor comes in. I’ve always believed that demons would approach humans as a calm, likable and charming person and Zane fits this role to a ‘T”.

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
 
The film is accompanied by the “Crypt Keeper” (voiced by John Kassir) with both opening and closing scenes. There are scenes of mild sex and nudity but nothing too gratuitous that can get the alarm bells going. Despite some minor flaws, “Demon Knight” is a nice piece of horror filmmaking that reminded me a lot of “Army of Darkness” and “From Dusk Till Dawn”. It is grim, dark, and highly entertaining; the direction finds its footing and manages to keep its momentum going from beginning to end. Action, frights, occult themes, Gore and Blood, all in a nice little package.
 
The Crypt Keeper just delivers! (well, maybe not in “Bordello of Blood”)
 
Highly Recommended! [4+ Stars]

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December 13, 2010
One of my all time favorite movies, love this flick. Excellent job WP.
December 14, 2010
thanks, man. I loved this movie too.
 
October 13, 2009
WHOOPIE! You finally did it, Woop. This one if a 5 for me because of the originality of the concept, the comedic elements, and of course Billy Zane pulling out all the stops as the Collector. That's exactly how Evil should be! BORDELLO OF BLOOD was a stinker of gigantic proportions however.
October 13, 2009
It was stupid as all get out, but weirdly entertaining. Something about hearing "Ballroom Blitz" while watching Dennis Miller kill vampire prostitutes that was very surreal and enjoyable. Still, I'd only give it a 3 or a 2 1/2 tops.
October 13, 2009
You're far more generous towards it than I would ever be--must be the whole guy and vampire prostitute thiung. For me the only slightly interesting thing was Phil Fondacaro.
October 13, 2009
I re-watched this last night and while I loved it as much as I did before, I did begin to see some flaws in the supporting cast. I know that they were meant to be slaughtered (the acting was also a little wanting) anyhow but I just couldn't feel bad about them dying. You're right of course, Karen, this is among the best portrayals of evil and I totally agree. I hated Bordello of Blood; that movie was a big mess.
October 13, 2009
I was hoping they would go into a bit more characterization too. I wanted more from the postal worker for obvious reasons, but hey--it's a horror movie that works on almost every other level and it does it so well that I was willling to forgive and forget. Plus there was Billy Zane. Guys might add .50 or .75% for nudity and I'll give them that extra boost for having the good sense to cast Zane.
October 13, 2009
"Guy and vampire prostitute thing"? What the hell are you insinuating, Queenie?
October 13, 2009
That you're a typically hormonal male?
October 14, 2009
Yes, Wally the postal worker had enormous potential as well as Irene. I liked the way she surprised us with her heroic suicide. Billy Zane stole the show and this can be one of the best movies with a villain as its main spotlight. and yes, we are a typical hormonal male LOL!
October 15, 2009
Right. So why be offended?
 
October 13, 2009
I think I saw this on Sci-Fi as part of a back-to-back feature with "Bordello of Blood". I can't remember if I liked it or not though. Anyhow, all of the horror reviews you're dropping seem to contrast your cute baby picture. maybe it's time to update to a scary profile pic... kinda like my own.
October 13, 2009
You're right; baby photo doesn't match. How about a pic of me as the CROW from a few years back?
October 13, 2009
Wasn't that your last photo? No, I mean something really creepy... like Woo rising out of a misty graveyard covered in faux blood or eating a baby doll's head or something. You know... creepier than usual. LOL!
October 13, 2009
then I won't have to use any make up...I am creepy the way I am!! LMAO
October 13, 2009
That's the spirit! In my current photo, it's just me hanging upside-down and snarling, and here I look like some vampire rodent from Hell! LOL. Wait till you see my Hulk impersonation...
Actually, if you go to my profile, the four photos there are my Halloween ones. I may rotate one every couple of days. I've also got a picture of me looking like a bug-eyed alien. Nothing like a little self-effacing humor around the holidays.
 
October 13, 2009
Boy it seems like Cch Pounder is everywhere lately. Either that or it's been just one of those cosmic coincidences where I've heard her name a dozen times in two days. Also Billy Zane is good stuff, it sounds like he fits this role perfectly. Ever see him in The Phantom? Great review as always, Woopster. Keep up the great work.
October 18, 2009
Zane was pretty entertaining in the PHANTOM but honestly I paid more attention to Caherine Zeta-Jones...LOL
 
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William ()
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Demons, Satan, Billy Zane, Blood Of Christ, Aka Tales From The Crypt Presents Demon Knight

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