The Crypt Keeper, “one of the hardest working stiffs in show biz,” makes his big-screen debut hosting this diabolically funny frightmare that will leave you shrieking for more.
Billy Zane is the seductively evil Collector, forever in pursuit of Brayker, a mysterious drifter with an ancient key that holds the power to block the of darkness from destroying humanity. In his quest for the key, the Collector conjurs up a gruesome cadre of cadavers- who have definately been out of the freezer to long- to bedevil the inhabitants of a run-down hotel. Armed with sacred blood, automatic weapons and really strong stomachs, Brayker, beautiful, strong-willed Jeryline and the other hotel boarders must try to defeat the Collector and his fiendish army. Who among them will make it to “mourning light!”
Watch your backs, boils and ghouls, while you savor this terrific tale of good vs. evil that boasts awesome special effects, plus the Crypt Keeper’s brand of defrightful deadpan humor. You’ll die laughing!
eyelights: The Cryptkeeper. Billy Zane. its tongue-in-cheek humour.
eyesores: its limited scope. its setting. the production.
“Fasten your drool cups, and ready your vomit bags! We’re going to the movies! Frights, camera, action!”
I was never drawn to ‘Tales from the Crypt’ – either the comics or the TV show. I guess I was never much of a fan of that campy mixture of ghastly horror and corny comedy that seems to be its bread and butter.
I can see how it became popular back in the ’50s, – there was nothing like it, and horror and comedy can be fun (ex: ‘Army of Darkness‘). It also made sense in the ’80s, what with all its campy horror franchises.
But that was never appealing to me. I tend to like my horror psychological more so than visceral, and I also tend to prefer clever humour. And although there are many exceptions to both, the mix is uneasy.
This ‘Tales from the Crypt’ movie, which was released 1995 by Universal Pictures, doesn’t mix it up in a way that I find appealing: its brand of horror isn’t at all scary, and its brand of comedy is not at all funny.
The two fall flat separately. Together, they die a clumsy death.
In some ways, the picture wants to tap into the same amusing vibe as ‘The Addams Family‘, beginning with a kitsch Addams-esque theme as the camera dashes up a shadowy property on its way to a spooky mansion.
Immediately, it feels derivative.
And it looks like crap – because, clearly, Universal were cheapskates.
‘Demon Knight’ is a picture in a picture… in a picture? It begins in the mansion’s basement with an intro by The Cryptkeeper, then shows us a snippet of a film he’s shooting on a set, and then goes to the film proper.
The intro I “get”: It’s a staple of the original show and even the comics. But why have two of them? It’s as though the filmmakers couldn’t decide what the best opener might be, just gave up and gave us two intros.
The bulk of the story is pretty simple: A man chases another to a former Church now renovated as a hotel, trying to get an artifact that contains the blood of Christ from the latter. And he tries to fend the pursuer off.
It sounds like the making of a good episode, but not so much of a whole 90-minutes film. Of course, One could easily reduce ‘Night of the Living Dead‘, another simplistic film, except that that one had many redeeming values.
To be fair, there’s a little bit more to ‘Demon Knight’ than just a stupid-@$$ car chase and then a siege at the hotel, but there’s not much; it feels as though the writers tried to pad their film to make up for a limited budget.
Oh, they have multiple characters interact in the hotel, they have the cops intervene at one point, and our bad guy, The Collector, conjures up a bunch of demons, and manipulates the hotel guest telepathically.
But, whoopteeedoo: a movie it does not make.
The cast doesn’t help much, but I guess you don’t get much for 13 million dollars: the ever-unappealing William Sadler is our protagonist, whereas the pretty, but scenery-chewing, Billy Zane is our key antagonist.
The filmmakers filled up the rest of the cast with character actors, some more familiar than others, and made the mistake of getting Jada Pinkett instead of Cameron Diaz, who at least wouldn’t have acted like a petulant rebel.
The effects budget was mostly devoted to the undead creatures, which look like crap, or some visuals when our hero seals doors and windows with the blood of Christ, and when he looks at the animated tattoo in his palm.
Geez… thank goodness they saved all that money by using just one location!
The writing isn’t any better: The best joke of the whole film is when the concierge asks for the cat to be taken off the table (“Get that pussy off the table”, she demands), and the prostitute gets off the table instead.
Yep, that‘s the calibre of the piece.
But there’s also morbid humour for those who like that sort of thing. For example, at one point The Collector punches a cop right through his skull and, when it pops off the cop’s neck, has to shake it off his arm.
I know, I know… and yet somehow it worked in ‘Army of Darkness’ or even ‘Braindead‘.
Quick: Who do you think will win?
I’ll give you two guesses!
F-it! I’m feeling generous: I’ll give you three!
Yay! You win!!!
The picture wraps up with with The Cryptkeeper going to a movie premiere (presumably for the film he shot earlier) with a bunch of babes on his withered arm. Then, for no reason, we get a reverse shot out of the mansion.
And that’s ‘Demon Knight’. It’s not a complete waste of time, but one really has to be in the mood for a movie not quite of good quality and yet not really bad enough to make fun of; it falls right in that uncomfortable middle.
Well, it can stay in The Crypt; there’s no reason to dig it up again.
Date of viewing: August 24, 2016