Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Ready for your deadtime story?
If you remember Tales from the Crypt, your a cool cat in my book. If you own it, then my hat's off to you and you have a brother in arms. As awesome as the show was, it never really had a very large movie scene - Two, with a third that mysteriously disappeared and I've never been able to find if it even does exist. Now, there's some stuff we kind of expect from the Crypt - but will the movie betray all that to patter to a larger crowd and draw everyone in? Will it be a cemetery that everyone is dying to get into, or simply just a bad joke?
The crypt keeper is filming a movie. Funnily enough, it's totally unrelated to this movie - but it wouldn't feel like Tales From the Crypt without the bookend skits! After he has some issues with his axe-murderer's acting capabilities, he tells us that he's going to give us a look at this wonderful little tale he calls Demon Knight (which will be our actual movie). In here, we are introduced rather quickly to our main two characters as the hero speeds away in a high speed pursuit from his pursuer. Their car chase ends rather poorly though - with both crashed and on fire, and miraculously our hero lives. He bails on the situation, running off to a nearby gas stop to acquire a new vehicle. In the middle of trying to pick the lock with his knife, a kid catches him - and the kid decides to rat him out to his dad after declining the small bribe and lie offered.
Our hero quickly stumbles into another character, who takes him somewhere he can board up for the night. At this point, it's pretty much the introduction to all the other characters in the movie - in the briefest and most straight forward way possible. Back at the crash scene, the cops have arrived to check out the carnage. As they get ready to get leaving, the pursuer of our hero steps out from the blazing wreckage and asks the officers if they saw where the man he was chasing went. Understandably, our officers are rather confuses as to where he just came from, but it isn't long before they get a call about someone trying to steal a car - and our mystery chaser tags along. When everyone finally ends up gathering at the hotel place, things start to get serious. The cops try and arrest our hero - only to get sidetracked a few times with finding what he stole from the other man. After getting a call that the mystery man also seems to have no real records of existing (and finding out that the man they just arrested is supposedly dead), the mystery man gets sick of waiting and kicks off the action by punching one of the officers through the head.
As it turns out, the mystery man is a demon chasing our hero. Our hero regains his object confiscated by the cops, and uses it to repel the demon outside the building. The demon is now quite riled up, and with some glowing green blood summons forth a bunch of lackies to deal with the folks inside the building. Miraculously, everyone survives the brief assault (outside of our already dead officer) and we are introduced to a demon-barrier creating ability tied to the object our hero has in his possession. He seals all the windows and doors, but the people inside aren't very set on the idea of staying inside. Through random happenstance, a pet cat ends up leading them to some underground tunnels - where they promptly start arguing with the hero about using them until they are distracted by some screams coming from upstairs. Turns out one of their own has transformed into a demon and murdered one of them while they were downstairs - but she's not done yet. Beyond just beating up our hero and a few others, she also rips half of the hotel owner's arm off. After finally dealing with the demonic menace, it's decided they don't have any choice but to use the tunnels to try and save the hotel owner from bleeding to death. Can they make it through the night or will they all be dead by dawn?
First and foremost, this movie feels like it's a Tales From the Crypt episode made movie-length. Well, maybe there's more nudity then the average episode, but other than that it has the same amount of cheese, supernatural, "horror", and puns that one would come to expect from it. Verily, should someone approach it less like a big Hollywood movie and more like a lengthier episode, they might even garnish more entertainment from it than they otherwise would. The puns are at their finest being delivered from our show-host the Crypt Keeper, but by far my favorite lines here (and possibly in any movie) happen when the demons first show up. One of the hotel residents ask "What are they, some kind of demons?" and our hero responds without missing a beat "No. Worse. Demons." It immediately comes off sounding so stupid that it garnishes a laugh (or a facepalm), but at the same time he isn't wrong either - they are worse than some kind of demon - they are straight up demons.
This brings me up to our actors. The plot is give or take - if you like the normal Tales from the Crypt setup, then you should be fine with the plot pacing and general self - but even within it some actors really shine. Our hero does the "gruff loner being chased by literal demons who now has to save everyone" bit quite well, and his main bad counterpart does an absolutely splendid job of spouting his anti-human filth and generally coming off as a pure nutjob. One could argue that Billy Zane really steals the movie in that regard, as almost every single time he's on screen you know you are going to have fun. The rest of the cast all have a moment or two where they can shine a bit as character - for good or bad - but compared to Zane's performance it's pretty hard to live up to. Still, they get their fair share of lines, such as the one-armed hotel owner holding her stump towards the demon when being offered a trade, and when met with confusion replying "No, that's me giving you the finger."
If you haven't manged to pick it up yet, this movie is definitely not for the kids. Between some nudity and some strong language, we also get to the other favorite part of the movie I have - the monsters. Practical effects! I love me some practical effects - well done ones just hold up so well. The demons look pretty monstrous, but the coolest feature is most likely the beautiful glowing green eyes. Some of the more fancy effects - such as the lightning blasting out from their eyes when stabbed/shot/killed aren't quite as impressive as the suits themselves though. What is impressive is watching them go up the staircase, where you can almost tell the person inside the suit is hoping they don't take a wrong step and go tumbling down. Beyond the demons and the demon-hybrids (which at one point gets to almost The Thing levels of creepy), most things end up being pretty standard fair.
The verdict here is simple: it's not for the young ones. That being said, I imagine that most fans of Tales from the Crypt aren't going to be all that young anyways, and the main group of people who will want to see this are going to be those. People who have a strong repulsion to movies with a lot of cheese factor will probably also not care much for the movie, as it gets that B-reel feel at times with some of the lines. Granted, I enjoy the crap out of this movie, but I won't debate that it probably takes a special kind of person to enjoy it this much either. Check it out if your a Crypt fan, or you just want to see an amazing crazy-person demon performance by Billy Zane.