Decades John Oliver arrived, HBO had a skinny superstar with a bad haircut who sat behind the desk and exposed the grotesque behavior of American spiced with humor. That man was the Crypt Keeper. His cackle quickly become iconic as he introduced short films made by big Hollywood directors including Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Walter Hill, Tobe Hooper, Mary Lambert, Peter Medak and Freddie Francis. Even Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan and Arnold Schwarzenegger were given a chance to helm episodes. Stars found the show a great place to scare up a few frights. Since the series aired on HBO, there was no need to censor the action unlike network attempts at horror shows. These tales could truly explore the darkside. Although they did have a sense of humor about them so it wasn’t thirty minutes of pure gruesome gore. This was a series that truly needed to be adapted to the big screen. Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Tales from the Crypt presents Bordello Of Blood did their best to make the series more than HBO.
Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight opens with the Crypt Keeper (John Kassir) directing his first major movie. They load up the gory puns as he berates his lame leading man. This leads into the main presentation which is whole different tone. Things opens with a night time car chase between William Sadler (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Billy Zane (Titanic). There’s a massive wreck and Sadler escapes on foot. Zane won’t back down and tracks him to roadside greasy spoon, bar and motel. Sadler has been brought there by a reformed alcoholic (Gremlin‘s Dick Miller). The place is full of folks drifting their way through New Mexico. Thomas Haden Church likes an electric relationship with the in room entertainment hostess (Brenda Bakke). Zane shows up acting like he’s a bounty hunter looking for Sadler except the residents discover more. Turns out that Sadler is part of a divine mission with a special object that Zane needs. Who is the clean shaven Zane? He’s a demon ready to bring up hell beasts to get his way. This is one of Zane’s finest performances as a Satanic Robin Williams. He goes all over the place emotionally as he tempts various folks into betraying Sadler. Can he tempt Jada Pinkett? Director Ernest Dickerson gets it just right for a claustrophobic horror tale. Things feel so tight yet there’s so much space in the run down ex-church motel. This really set a good tone for launching a series of movie based off the show. They wrap up the fun with the Crypt Keeper taking us to the premiere to demonstrate his final cut on the movie.
Tales from the Crypt presents Bordello of Blood is an entertaining massacre. The film opens with William Sadler wrapping himself into a different role while schmoozing with the Crypt Keeper. This time a tale gets unwrapped about a nice girl (Baywatch‘s Erika Eleniak) and her troublesome brother (Lost Boys‘ Corey Feldman). She works for a televangelist. He hangs out at a pool hall looking for more trouble. This leads to him and his buddy getting the lead to a brothel located in a nearby funeral home. It’s the kinda party that you’d die to get inside. Turns out you don’t have to fully die since it’s run by supermodel Angie Everhart. She’s the legendary vampire Lilith. She gives a tongue kiss that can take your heart away. When Corey doesn’t come home, Erika goes hunting for a private investigator. Since Jim Rockford is not in the phone book, she ends up with Dennis Miller. This is when the film goes from goofy entertainment to trainwreck irritainment. Miller has never been an actor and luckily he doesn’t try here. He’s more like an Entertainment Tonight correspondent making light of a set visit than displaying any acting chops. The best news is there’s so little to this movie that if they’d hired a competent actor, the film would have just been mediocre and mainly rented on VHS for the topless shots. Miller makes this movie a drinking game. The rule being that you drink until you don’t notice how he sticks out from the rest of the performers. Everhart carries most of the load because she was at her red haired super model prime.
Sadly Bordello of Blood didn’t quite have any heat at the cineplex and thus killed what could have been a lucrative franchise. Part of this gets blamed on Dennis Miller telling people that the film was crap and save you money. There’s a bit of comedy in Dennis ranting as a conservative talking about people who “take” from the system when he pretty much cashed this paycheck for services barely rendered. He’s no Dick Miller. There was a third Tales from the Crypt film called Ritual, but was dumped on DVD nearly a decade after it was shot. These two films demonstrate what can go right and wrong in a low budget horror series.
The video for both film is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the deathlike tones on the Crypt Keeper. The audio on both films include 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, The 5.1 mixes wraps the Crypt Keeper cackles around your room. The 2.0 mix is more like what you would have heard in the theater. The movies are subtitled.
Audio Commentary includes director Ernest Dickerson recounting so much about his step up from cinematographer to director. There’s a separate track featuring the special effects crew. They are a hoot as they talk about making the demons dance and ooze.
Egyptian Theater Q & A Session (9:46) is from a Dick Miller film festival. Dick, Ernest Dickerson and special effects master Rick Baker talk about mostly Dick Miller. Dick and Rick look like a father and son team.
Making of Featurette (39:12) delves deeply into the film’s production. Sadler, Miller, Zane, Dickerson and others break down how they brought the small screen hit to the big screen.
Still Gallery (5:40) has a lot of Crypt Keeper promo shots.
Theatrical Trailer (2:01) is taken from a VHS source. It’s a shriek preview.
Scream Factory presents Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight. Directed by: Ernest Dickerson. Screenplay by: Mark Bishop, Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris. Starring: Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Thomas Haden Church, CCH Pounder & John Kassir. Rated: R. Running Time: 93 minutes. Released: October 20, 2015.
Audio commentary with screenwriter Al Katz is great because he’s willing to tell stories from the set. Shame Dennis Miller didn’t give his side of the story, but he must have been getting ready for his next segment on The Factor.
Making of Featurette (36:08) is more entertaining than the film because it exposes a lot of issues behind the camera. The biggest problem is that Dennis Miller pretty much took a million bucks for the role and gave a $2 performance. Talk about a welfare mooch. Corey Feldman still seems heartbroken at the lack of set bonding. Erika Eleniak seems really embarrassed by her actions on the set. There is praise for how Angie Everhart was up for wanting to give more than Miller could provide.
Video Promo (3:12) seems like the seasonal promo tape we’d run at the videostore to hype upcoming releases. Check out the Video Toaster effects!
Still Gallery (5:34) is all about Angie showing off her fangs.
Theatrical Trailer (1:42) is a transfer off a VHS tape.
Scream Factory presents Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight. Directed by: Gilbert Adler. Screenplay by: A. L. Katz & Gilbert Adler. Story by: Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale. Starring: Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak, Angie Everhart, Chris Sarandon & Corey Feldman. Rated: R. Running Time: 87 minutes. Released: October 20, 2015.