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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 127: Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight
Have a good knight! EEEHEHEHEHEHEHE

As I've addressed in my review of “Ritual,” Tales From The Crypt used to scale the hell out of me, mostly because of the Crypt Keeper. There's just something terrifying about a corpse puppet making terrible puns in a high-pitched voice that just strikes fear into the hearts of children. Now that I'm older, much like Freddy Krueger, the Crypt Keeper is just over-the-top funny. Of course, the version of Ritual that I watched didn't have the Crypt Keeper or anything related to Tales From The Crypt other than the name in the title. Thankfully, Demon Knight was not only a far superior movie, but also included the Crypt Keeper at the beginning and end.

Demon Knight is a 1995 horror movie starring William Sadler (The Mist, Freaked) as Frank Brayker , Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom) as The Collector, and Jada Pinkett (The Nutty Professor, The Matrix Reloaded) as ex-criminal Jeryline. Frank and the Collector are in a cat-and-mouse chase that leads Frank to a tiny hotel converted from a church in the California desert. He observes the residents, owner Irene (CCH Pounder, Avatar, Warehouse 13), Jeryline, Uncle Willy (Dick Miller, Eerie Indiana, Gremlins), prostitute Cordelia, cook Roach (Thomas Hayden Church, Spider-man 3, Sideways), and postal worker Wally. Collector meets with the Sheriff and his inept deputy Bob and convince them that Frank is a thief, in possession of a relic that belongs to him. They arrest Frank, but learn that the Collector had also stolen a car, so they try to take him in, but Collector literally punches through the sheriff's face. He is driven out of the building by Frank's mystical artifact, a cross-shaped key with blood inside it. The Collector cuts himself, bleeding neon green blood onto the ground, which gives rise to hideous humanoid demons. The demons attack, but Brayker pours blood out of the key onto each doorway, creating a seal that the demons cannot pass. Unable to get in, Collector uses psychic powers to seduce the inhabitants into letting him in. Brayker explains that after God created the Heavens and the Earth, demons spawned in the darkness, forging 7 keys that, when combined, would grant them the power of the universe. God created light and scattered the demons and the keys across the cosmos. Since them, the demons have collected 6 keys and have returned to Earth to get the 7th. To prevent it from falling into the demon's hands, God had a thief fill it with the blood of Jesus from the crucifixion. Throughout the years, various people have been the guardian of the key, but they are not immortal. Seriously hurt, Frank grants Jeryline his power and refills the key with his blood. Will Jeryline be able to defeat the Collector and save the world?

At least the company looks nice

First off, I have to say that this movie is flat-out fun to watch. It does so many things right that I almost feel bad for pointing out any flaws. The acting is what really carries the movie, with Billy Zane putting in an amazing performance. Seriously, he should have won an award for his over-the-top, charmingly evil Collector. He appears to be having a blast throughout the entire movie without sacrificing his ability to be an evil demon. Jada Pinkett and William Sadler are great as well along with a really good supporting cast. Ernest Dickerson is very good in the director's chair, which is not a surprise since he has also directed episodes of The Walking Dead and The Wire. The story itself is fairly different and original, though it does get a little clunky with the whole God/Jesus blood bit. It's not enough of a distraction to take away from the movie, it just feels kind of weird.

The portion of the movie that works so well is the action mixed with horror. The demons look creepy, sort of like a mixture of alien and humans caked in mud. The humans that become possessed look extra terrifying and the makeup people deserve a lot of credit as their creations are the stuff of nightmares. There is plenty of blood and creative kills that will make you wince and laugh. You know you're in for a fun ride when Billy Zane punches through the sheriff’s head and can get his hand free, futilely trying to shake it off like he just stuck his hand into an old pumpkin.

Oh, the sights we'll see and the people we'll kill

Demon Knight is a fun mixture of horror, action, and humor. The writing and acting are great with a solid director at the helm. There is a good amount of bloody violence and smart humor that keeps the audience excited and entertained. The movie also contains a really good hard rock/heavy metal soundtrack including Pantera, Filter, and Rollins Band. Thankfully, the Crypt Keeper is in the prologue and epilogue of the movie and there are references to Tales From The Crypt, as it should be when their name is in the title of the freaking movie. TFTC had a history of false starts and general confusion when it came to their movies as Demon Knight was supposed to be the second in a trilogy, but actually came out first. After the credits, we're told to look forward to the next TFTC movie called Dead Easy which never actually came out. Someone really must have screwed up, but it doesn't matter because we got a great movie. Definitely check this one out as soon as you can.


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