10/25/11

The Halloween Top 13: The Devil Made Me Do It #7 Demon Knight (1995)

Be thankful that this title is coming up in the Halloween Top 13: The Devil Made Me Do It instead of in a normal post or you'd have to face a title such as Demon Knight (1995): In-Zane in the Membrane, and I don't want to subject you nice people to an inane pun/twenty year old hip hop reference. Alright I kind of do, and I might have just done it. Can you blame me though? This is a Tales from the Crypt film, and after watching John Kasir's Crypt Keeper intro the film, you almost have to start punning in self defense against the onslaught of diabolical double entendres. I shall try and control my own punning for your protection. Demon Knight comes in at #7 on The Halloween Top 13, and it just so happens that the number seven is pretty important in the world of demon smashing. On a dark and stormy night, when the seven stars align, a Demon Knight and seven allies will fight back the forces of the underworld. By morning, Hell will rule the Earth or a new Demon Knight will emerge. Also there are jokes, CCH Pounder loses an arm, Dick Miller, the guy from Wings, Big Willie's future wife, and Roger Rabbit. Hmm, maybe I should try this again from the top.

Brayker (William Sadler), whose name sounds like to should have been the name of a badass trucker hero, is the current Demon Knight, and he's in possession of the last key that stands in the way of the demons taking over. On his trail is The Collector (I wonder if he knows The Accountant from #13 Drive Angry?), played by Billy Zane. Brayker stumbles into a hotel/flophouse run by Irene (Pounder), as his seven star hand tattoo line up telling him that his time as a warrior against Satan's minions is soon over. The Collector and his demon cohorts begin a savage seige of the hotel, the only thing keeping them out, the blood from the key with the power to seal doors against demons. As the night wears on and the hotels residents are either killed or tempted away by The Collector, Brayker finds his replacement in Jeryline (Jada Pickett), a petty criminal on work release at the hotel. Ultimately, she must face off against The Collector in a showdown to decide the fate of the world.

In the Tales from the Crypt television series, each episode featured an interesting appearance from a star or a couple of character actors. With the movie version they kicked that up to the point where nearly every major and minor character was played by someone recognizable. It's not fair to call Thomas Hayden Church the "guy from Wings" anymore after his 2005 Oscar nomination for Sideways, but when he played the treacherous character Roach, that's who he was to me just as Jada Pickett was a student of Spelman College on A Different World. More familiar to me were Roger Corman veteran Dick Miller (Bucket of Blood, Hearbeeps), who played the drunken Uncle Willy,  and stand up comedian Charles Fleisher, better known as the voice of Roger Rabbit, as a postman on the verge of going postal. Since seeing Demon Knight, I've noticed Brenda Bakke, prostitute Cordelia, in many small parts in films including appearing as Lana Turner in L.A. Confidential. I also have to nominate her for worst IMDB bio ever which reads, "Good-looking American lead actress who has toughed it in out in horrors, action and comedy since the late 80s." CCH Pounder, who has been in movies and television for years, really impresses here and shows off the same kind of toughness she would as a cop in The Shield. 


While Demon Knight follows the casting pattern of the television show, it strays when it comes to the source material. The Demon Knight script had been kicking around for years going through the hands of Tom Holland (Child's Play), Mark Carducci (Pumpinhead), and Mary Lambert (Pet Cemetary) before landing at Charles Band's Full Moon Productions. From there it finally made it's way to Joe Silver's production company where it was optioned to be the second Tales from the Crypt movie following a title called Dead Easy (which The Crypt Keeper teases at the end of Demon Knight.) Universal decided to place Demon Knight first (and ultimately kill the franchise with Bordello of Blood next), and it went into production though almost without demons. A treatment was done with the demons appearing to be average business suited yuppies to save money, but wisely the decision was made to fill the screen with monsters. The directing duties eventually fell to Ernest Dickenson. I'm split on Dickenson. While I love what he did on Demon Knight and his modern blaxploitation classic Juice as well as his television work with The Walking Dead  and Treme, the fact that he directed the unfunny Bulletproof and the unscary Bones make me wonder how he chooses his projects. In the case of Demon Knight, I assume he was a director for hire, and someone made a good choice for the job.

There's very little that I long for in a film that Demon Knight does not provide. With plenty of gore, action, comedy, great acting,  it already gets me, but then add in Zane's Collector with his quotable lines, and I was sold. Here's my Top 4 Collector quotes

4. Humans. You're not worth the flesh you're printed on!

3. Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are? I know that sounds like a line - Lord knows I've used it - but I mean it.

2. Do me a favor? Don't scream. Just hear what I've gotta say... and then scream.

1. Fuck this cowboy shit! You fucking ho-dunk, po-dunk, well then there motherfuckers! All you had to do was give me the goddamn key! Then we could get on with our lives.

I've lost track of how many times I've seen Demon Knight over the years. I have to imagine it numbers in the hundreds somewhere, but I still find myself constantly amused, and ready to watch it again. While the Tales from the Crypt movie franchise never lived up to its potential, it at least gave us one great film. Before I go I want to also mention the incredible soundtrack this film has.From Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot" to Gravedigga's "1-800-Suicide" and Pantera's "Cemetery Gates", Demon Knight features tunes as badass as the film itself.

That brings us to the end of #7 on the Halloween Top 13: The Devil Made Me Do It. I've still got six more titles in store for you folks to bring us right into the big day. Today I also have another reader submitted Devilish pick. So scroll down below the trailer to see a suggestion sent in by one my favorite readers, the mighty Mr. James.

Bugg Rating


Halloween Top 13- READER LIST


My pal James has been a reader of The Lair for years, and I think this is his second year participating in the Halloween Top 13. Thanks James, and great suggestions!

I am not entirely sure that I have 13 films to mention in this oeuvre that haven't been talked to death by every blogger and wanna-be Lightning Bugg on the net, but I know I have at least one; The First Power

When homicide detective and professional serial killer catcher Russell Logan sets his sights on his latest rock star psychopath, played by the awesomely underused Jeff Kober, he thinks he is dealing with just another sicko that likes dancing in ladies' underwear and smearing himself with peanut butter. After our antichristian antagonist gets the gas chamber, shit gets real when the good cops responsible start turning up dead in a manner that precisely matches those of the now deceased (or is he??) Patrick Channing. 

While not overtly about the devil, Channing's M.O. included a ton of pentagrams and satany looking stuff, so it definitely qualifies for what Hollywood thinks a devil worshiper is.  The best part about this movie to me is what the first power is, which is the ability to essentially possess anyone you choose for as long or as little as you want.  This was done to similar effect in the Denzel Washington vehicle Fallen, which I also liked, quite a bit, and the Wes Craven turd Shocker, which I like, but not because it's any good, at all.  What First Power does different is switch between portraying the possessed person as themselves or as Channing, so that you never forget about Jeff Kober.  This is good, because Jeff Kober is awesome. 

So you may ask yourself, "Self, if I were a serial killer who got the gas chamber and was reborn as a spirit with the ability to jump from body to body at will, what's the first thing I'd do?"  If you said "Well, I damn sure wouldn't advertise to the super obsessive cop that caught and killed me that I now had super powers!" then you would be smarter than Patrick Channing, my friend.  Think of it, Channing could have spent eternity bouncing from body to body, doing whatever the hell he wanted, including killing random people, but instead he runs up to his nemesis and goes "Catch me if you can!!"  I am instantly reminded of Clown's comment from Spawn The Movie; "Why does God get all the good followers and we get all the retards?" 

2 comments:

  1. I love Demon Knight! Now I seriously need to re-watch!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really need to rewatch Demon Knight, as I hated it the first time I saw it. Pretty sure I would dig it, now, as my tastes have changed, a lot. I wasn't sure if you were gonna use my First Power review, so woot to that!

    ReplyDelete

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