Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Starring Billy Zane
Brenda Bakke Jada Pinkett Smith
The success of the "Tales From the Crypt" cable TV series (which itself was heavily inspired by the excellent Stephen King-George Romero pic "Creepshow") was inevitably going to spawn movies. Thankfully, the producers opted not to make yet another anthology film of 30-minute stories. (There had already been a great "Tales From the Crypt" anthology film produced in the 1970s.)
The result is one of the better movies of the 1990s. "Demon Knight" is a fast-paced, well-written and well-acted homage to both "The Evil Dead" and "Night of the Living Dead." It's introduced as an episode of the "Tales From the Crypt" series, with that show's decaying Crypt Keeper host in a funny intro. Despite his presence, the film succeeds on its own. It could have—and probably should have—been released on its own. But this was a time when horror films were bombing at the box office and producers obviously felt the need to link it to a successful franchise.
A group of people take refuge in a church which has been surrounded by someone who calls himself "The Collector" (Zane). Sadler is a mysterious drifter who's been carrying an occult artifact known as "The Key" since World War I. Apparently, the Key contains a vial of Jesus' blood. Zane wants it as part of a Biblical battle between good and evil—or something like that. In the battle that erupts, Zane exploits the weaknesses of the characters, seducing them with whatever their hearts' desire. In one memorable sequence, Dick Miller is coaxed with topless women and booze.
Great gore effects, over-the-top acting by Zane and healthy doses of humor make it a fun ride. Unfortunately, I've always preferred horror films with an indie touch—something that this one doesn't have. Still, be sure to catch it. Flick was followed by the abysmal "Tales From the Crypt" turkey "Bordello of Blood."
-- Review by Lucius Gore
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