Synopsis: Wisecracking private eye Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller) investigates some strange happenings at a titillating bordello on teh edge of town. It seems owner Madam Lilith (Angie Everhart) and her luscious cohorts want more than money-they want blood!
Soon Rafe finds himself up to his neck in a den of hungry vampiresses and battling the Reverend Jimmy Current (Chris Sarandon), a slick televangelist with an unstoppable talisman.
Brimming with blood, lust and wicked laughs, this is one brothel you’ll visit again and again!
eyelights: Denis Miller. Corey Feldman. Lillith. the lovely bordello workers.
eyesores: the poor special effects.
“It’s not perfume, it’s sunblock!”
I fell asleep the first time I watched ‘Bordello of Blood’, the second in a proposed trilogy of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ films. Frankly, after ‘Demon Knight‘, I don’t know why I bothered. It may have been the casting of Dennis Miller, whom I enjoyed at the time. And the promise of boobies, which I also enjoyed at the time.
(I still do. Just sayin’)
Anyway, I didn’t remember much about the picture when I sat down to watch it a second time. I don’t know if it was just really dull or if it was my fatigue (I likely watched it super late at night, after work), but I only remembered that Dennis Miller was in it. And so were boobies. I figured I’d give them another look.
It, not them.
The movie, not the boobies.
But Lord knows there are a lot of them. I mean, the picture is called ‘Bordello of Blood’, after all – it’s set in a funeral parlour that’s a front for an exotic brothel. A brothel full of topless women in lingerie. Half-naked models, really. Half-naked models that are actually vampires. Vampires who are very thirsty for blood.
Basically, this is the ‘Tales from the Crypt’ counterpoint to ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’.
The story is very different, however: ‘Bordello of Blood’ finds Catherine looking for her brother, Caleb, a rebellious young man who’s gone out partying with his friends and wound up at the brothel – and never came back. Catherine, unable to get timely help from an overworked police, decides to hire Rafe Guttman, a private eye.
Guttman doesn’t take long to put the pieces together, at first tracking Caleb down to the funeral home, not realizing that it’s also a nighttime den of iniquity. But when he finds out, boy does the fit hit the shan! He’s got the brothel’s madam, Lillith, after him, and Catherine gets kidnapped, whom he subsequently has to rescue!
Question: But how does one man fight a whole pack of vampires?
Answer: Water pistols filled with holy water, of course! Duh!
It is ‘Tales from the Crypt’, after all! It’s nothing if not tongue-in-cheek, or downright corny. But it can also be a lot of fun, in spurts. ‘Bordello of Blood’ certainly is that: Fun in spurts, like the requisite liberal gushing of blood. But it’s a bit inconsistently enjoyable, partly because it underplays its humourous aspects.
Or it stumbles when it tries.
For example, to get to the brothel, clients have to hop into a casket, which takes them not just into but through the crematorium, to the other side, to the hidden den. That’s an amusing set-up, but every time that someone hops into the casket, there was an opportunity for a rip-roaring one-liner or juicy commentary.
Sadly, they tried but it fell flat.
For instance, the best the writers could muster up for Guttman, when he went in, was “Ah, the girls! Let them eat a guy named Cake.”
But “Bordello of Blood’ has its moments, from the campy bloodlust of the opening segment, to its amusingly macabre intro with The Cryptkeeper, to the introduction of the bordello’s denizens, to the campy guitar-playing preacher, to the grimtastic nod to Bill Gaines (creator of the original comics!), to Guttman’s water pistol attack…
…all the way to the deliciously twisted finale. Nice.
The cast is also way more fun this time around. While Dennis Miller isn’t as funny as I wish he’d been, he plays it a bit in the same way that Kevin Kline plays comedy; a bit dry, but with a twinkle. Corey Feldman, who I’m not great fan of, was actually really terrific as Caleb. And Angie Everhart totally looks the part of Lillith.
Again, Universal made the picture on the cheap, and it shows in the special effects. But the picture is more ambitious than the last one and yet it arguably succeeds where the other one failed: the puppet work is better, the practical effects aren’t great but serviceable, and there’s no crap CGI to mar the proceedings this time.
So, ultimately, though it not the film du siècle, ‘Bordello of Blood’ was a much more entertaining movie than its predecessor. A major failure at the box office, it killed off ‘Body Count’, the planned third entry in the ‘Tales from the Crypt’ trilogy. A darned shame, because the producers had clearly found their mojo with this one.
I’m glad I gave it a second chance; it certainly exceeded my expectations.
Um… not that that’s saying much.
Date of viewing: September 4, 2016