A mysterious drifter known as Brayker (William Sadler, Iron Man 3) possesses the last of seven ancient keys that hold the power to stop the forces of darkness and protect all humanity from ultimate evil. But the human race is safe only so long as Brayker can evade the demonic Collector (Billy Zane, Titanic) who has gathered the other six keys. In his obsessive quest for the key, the Collector rallies an army of ghastly cadavers against Brayker and the inhabitants of a run-down hotel. Armed with automatic weapons, sacred blood and sadistic humor, Brayker and the strong-willed Jeryline (Jada Pinkett-Smith, Gotham) must lead the other guests in a gruesome battle against the Collector and his evil horde of ghouls.
In TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS : DEMON KNIGHT, an ages old battle of power makes it's way to the sleepy town of Wormwood New Mexico, and into the small Mission Hotel, which is owned and operated by Irene. It starts when a drifter named Frank Brayker comes into town while on the run from a man known as "The Collector" As it is revealed "The Collector" is after one of 7 ancient keys. Keys that once all claimed, will grant world power to their possessor. "The Collector", whom is, in reality a vile demon, has 6 of the keys, and Brayker has the last key, which is loaded with the blood of Christ, as well as his protégées. It is powerful blood - and they're going to need it. Because "The Collector" soon wages war on Earth, when he raises a horde of demonic disciples, who viciously storm the hotel. The blood from the key, as well as a shot to the eyes seem to be the only way to dispatch of the evil demons, so it's up to Brayker, and those lucky enough to remain to fight for peace.
Although DEMON KNIGHT is a film that was presented theatrically as sort of a spin off from the wildly popular comic book series, and the subsequent TV show, which aired on HBO, it was a film that was around technically, years before it hit the screen in 1995. It was an idea that had several writers, as well as directors attached, all of which did not pan out. It was not until UNIVERSAL picked it up, and attached it with the TALES FROM THE CRYPT branding, that the idea, as well as a new variation of the script, picked up stream. Seeing as, personally, i'm not that familiar with TALES FROM THE CRYPT(I didn't have HBO back when it aired), I had of course heard of the 2 films(this, and BORDELLO OF BLOOD), but had never seen them. That was of course, until now.
My first reaction coming away from DEMON KNIGHT, is that it's not all that bad. It's actually quite good. For those who have yet to see the film, i'd say that the majority of the film feels pretty similar to the likes of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the like, As for most of the film, the character find themselves holed up in a hotel, and fending off the demons, who are trying to enter. Of course, the eventually do, and some fun proceedings take place. It's a fun little battle for power, as the film's diverse cast makes the idea work to campy effect.
The cast does make DEMON KNIGHT a lot of fun. As "Brayker" William Sadler is both mysterious and sympathetic, Jada Pinkett Smith as "Jeraline" is the rebellious type, CCH Pounder is the tough hotel owner, "Irene", and Thomas Haden Church(as "Roach"), along with the great Dick Miller("Uncle Willy"), give the film more comedy. As for the villain in the film, Billy Zane was a great choice, as the strange man known as "The Collector". Zane was able to keep the mystery surrounding his character going. He's vile, without going too over the top. Good performance from Zane.
As mentioned, this was my first time seeing DEMON KNIGHT, but I have to say that I liked it. There's a good cast, a nice mid-90s feel, and great action and effects. It also has a level of style to it as well. I really liked the flashbacks involving the crucification of Jesus, etc., as well has the sort of "dream-like" sequences that effect certain characters.
The Blu-Ray that comes to us via SCREAM! FACTORY, is not without flaws. In some of the film's more darker scenes, the picture is a little muddled - however is not bad. The release comes with a few extras. Aside from 2 new commentaries(one with Director Ernest R. Dickerson, the other with special effects artist Todd Masters, as well as the film's effects supervisors), the film includes a Q&A session with star Dick Miller, and Director Ernest Miller, as well as special effects legend, Rick Baker. There is also a making of featurette, a gallery of still from the film, as well as its theatrical trailer.
Some details on the featurettes are as follows :
Panel Discussion From The American Cinematheque (9m 46s)
This is a Q&A from the Egyptian in which actor Dick Miller was honored. We hear from not only Miller, but Director Ernest R, Dickerson and special effects artist Rick Baker - both of whom have worked with Miller.
Under Siege - The Making of DEMON KNIGHT (39m 12a)
This featurette chronicles the making of DEMON KNIGHT - from the writing, the casting, effects, as well as early screenings. A lot is told. The featurette features on screen interviews with stars, William Sadler, Billy Zane, Dick Miller, Brenda Bakke, John Schuck, and Charles Fleischer. Also included are the film's Director, Ernest Dickerson, writers Eithan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, and effects artist, Tood Masters.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
This film is fun. Not only does it have great characters(especially a great hero, as well as a villain), there is also plenty of nice action and gore to be seen here as well. If you haven't seen it, gave this a shot, and if you have, then chances are that you already have, or will be getting this release.
Special Features include :
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Ernest Dickerson
- NEW Audio Commentary With Special Effects Creator Todd Masters, Visual Effects Supervisor John Van Vliet, Special Effects Coordinator Thomas Bellissimo, And Demon Performer Walter Phelan
- NEW Under Siege: The Making Of Demon Knight – Featuring Interviews With Director Ernest Dickerson, Co-producer A.L. Katzm Screenwriters Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, And Mark Bishop, Stars Billy Zane, William Sadler, Brenda Bakke, Charles Fleischer And More
- Panel Discussion From The American Cinematheque Featuring Director Ernest Dickerson, Actor Dick Miller And Special Effects Maestro Rick Baker
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer