Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Retro Movie Review: Tales from the Crypt, Demon Knight (R – 92 minutes - 1995)

We’ve rolled into October, and tis the season for horror flicks.  Honestly, I’m not much for horror movies, but I thought it would be fun to go back and review one a week that I actually did like.  

Horror has really become a wide-ranging genre with all sorts of sub-genres.  The first one I’m picking is a throwback to silly, slimy, gore and was a spin-off of the anthology series Tales From the Crypt that used to air on HBO – hosted by the Cryptkeeper, a corpse who made terrible puns, and I mean terrible puns.

Demon Knight starts in New Mexico where scuzzy drifter Frank Brayker is trying to outrun the handsome and elegant 'Collector'.  After a car crash, Brayker flees and ends up at a decommissioned church that has been converted into a boarding house and is currently filled with a fairly standard horror movie random group of characters: drunk Uncle Willy, owner Irene, prostitute Cordelia, postal clerk Wally, and a convict on work release – Jeryline.  Another local, ‘Roach’, shows up and tells the occupants that someone has tried to steal his boss’s car, and Irene calls the sheriff.  The sheriff and his deputy have encountered the Collector at the crash site – and he’s so charming that they immediately agree to help him out, as he was chasing a thief who has an important artifact.  The three of them arrive at the boarding house, where the sheriff decides to arrest both Brayker and the Collector, based on Brayker's reaction to the Collector.  The Collector is less than thrilled with this information and punches right through the sheriff’s head.

Brayker uses the artifact, a key-like item with a liquid inside, to force the Collector outside, then uses the slightly glowy red liquid inside to seal the entrances to the building against the Collector and the demon hordes he swiftly raises by flinging his blood around - eww.

 Brayker tells the group they will have to wait out the night and that the Collector will try to get inside the building by approaching each of them.  Sure enough, one by one, the Collector attempts to ‘seduce’ each person by offering them what they want.  He psychically seduces Cordelia, who then kills Wally and removes Irene’s arm before Brayker can kill her.  Just as the group is thinking they can escape through some old mine tunnels, they encounter Danny – a local kid, who is on the run from the other townspeople who are all now demon possessed and whatnot.  They demand the full story from Brayker, and he tells them what the artifact is.

After God created the earth, demons used seven keys to focus the power of the cosmos – God stopped them by creating light, which of course, scattered the demons and the keys.  They key that Brayker has is the last one they have not found, and God had a thief named Sirach fill it with the blood of Jesus during the Crucifixion.  The key has been passed down through time, rendering the bearer ageless while they have it, and refilling it with their blood when they are mortally wounded, before passing it on to the next person.  Brayker received it during World War I.  

During the story, Danny disappears, and in the confusion of looking for him, Roach takes the key from Brayker. While searching the place, Irene and Bob discover a stockpile of weapons that Wally was going to use to attack the post office (this is back when that was a thing).  The Collector possesses Uncle Willy, and while battling him – Roach attempts to trade the key for his life.  That goes how you would expect it to (hey, don't try to bargain with demons or collectors that work with demons - it never works, and they will always betray you) – and while the Collector kills Roach, Brayker gets the key back as Irene and the deputy sacrifice themselves so that Brayker, Jeryline and Danny can make it to the attic. 
The Collector manages to possess Danny (I mean, what kid can withstand demon possession?) who mortally wounds Brayker before Jeryline kills him. Brayker passes the key to Jeryline, leaving her to battle the Collector and continue on.  She does manage to defeat him, and refills the key with Brayker’s blood before heading out, sealing the door of a bus as she gets on – ensuring that a new Collector at the next stop cannot get on the bus. 

Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson (Juice, Bulletproof, The Wire, Dexter, Treme, Walking Dead, Bosch), the movie is more fun than it should be, and actually has a much better story than it should as well.  The set of the boarding house was completely built in one sound stage allowing for great movement through the sets.  I love the practical makeup on the demons and possessed folks, which are yes – horrifically and unnecessarily gory.  As much as I liked the story, and thought it was interesting and well done, it’s really the cast that sucked me into this movie.
  • The star is definitely Billy Zane as the Collector – completely free to be completely zany (see what I did there?) he spends the movie harassing the occupants of the boarding house in various ways, including a nonsensical hoedown dance for no reason.  He seems to be genuinely having a great time. He’s perfect as the agent of darkness sent to collect the key by whatever means necessary.  Watch it again to see that part where he kisses the slimy demon on the forehead.

  • William Sadler is very Sadler-y as Brayker, a man who has been running from the Collector for a long time. He’s beaten and tired, and I think relieved that he has found Jeryline to pass on the key and the responsibility that comes with it.

  • Jada was still just Jada Pinkett at this point, not yet Jada Pinkett Smith.  She’s perfect as the convict who is just working out her sentence and tries to act like she doesn’t care about anyone or anything in this house, but is revealed to be the true hero of the story.

  • Thomas Haden Church plays Roach, scummy, creepy, and slimy.  He gets what’s coming to him, but not without getting a few laughs first.

  • John Schuck plays the Sheriff and Gary Farmer plays Deputy Bob, who steps up to help save everyone near the end.

  • CCH Pounder (my favorite Amanda Waller) plays Irene, and has easily one of the best moments in the movie. After losing her arm – the Collector attempts to offer it back to her if she will assist him in getting the key.  She lifts her stump up to him, and he asks if that’s her agreeing, and she replies that it’s actually her giving him the finger. Classic.

  • Brenda Bakke plays Cordelia, and Charles Fleischer plays Wally – which was interesting to see because previous to this I had only known him as the voice of Roger Rabbit.

  • Dick Miller plays Uncle Willy – a dude who loves his bottles, and gets seduced by the Collector when offered drink and women – and yes, here’s the PTS in the movie.

Overall, it’s cheesy, it’s silly, it’s fun, and it has an interesting story.  Plus, Billy Zane.  Come on.  If you’re looking for some flashback entertainment this Halloween season, give this one a shot.  Then you could follow it up with Tales From The Crypt’s Bordello of Blood – but I personally prefer this one.

8 out of 10 – there’s no accounting for taste, I suppose!

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