TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS DEMON KNIGHT
Two films were made adapted from the E.C. strips by Amicus in the early 1970s Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973) but these lacked the essential black humour of the originals. Filmic interest in the E.C. style was rekindled by George Romeros Creepshow (1982) and several tv anthology series imitating the E.C. style such as Tales from the Darkside (1983-6) and Monsters (1988-90). There then came the Tales from the Crypt (1989-96) cable series, which was reasonably faithful to the comics and in fact adapted a number of stories. This proved popular, lasting seven seasons. Demon Knight was an attempt to spin Tales from the Crypt out as a cinematic franchise.
Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight is directed by Spike Lees former cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, who made his debut the year before with the human-hunting film Surviving the Game (1994). The story is standard Tales from the Crypt fare it just has a bigger budget and some more extreme splatter effects. It is standard fare as the contemporary (1990s) horror film goes the tone is campy and there is a tongue-in-cheek villain who fires off one-liners. The splatter effects are competent fists through the head, arms ripped off, demons with exploding heads, a cool looking 12-foot-tall demon at the climax. As this type of film goes, Demon Knight is competently done. It doesnt insult the intelligence as badly as most of the moron-level films in this genre do; on the other hand, it does not particularly distinguish itself either.
The script is weak. Nothing is done with the intriguing concept of Christs blood what is the point of the blood? Does The Collector spend all his time pursuing it because it can destroy him? If this is the case then how come, as the twist ending reveals, the blood does not destroy The Collector after all? William Sadler gives a not-too-bad performance of burned-out intensity. Jada Pinkett, later to become Mrs Will Smith, came to promising attention here, and is quite good. Only Billy Zane, from whom one expected good things in this part, disappoints in an intrusively campy playing.
There was a sequel Tales from the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood (1996), which was terrible. Its lack of success fairly much brought about an end to the Tales from the Crypt film series there was the subsequent Tales from the Crypt Presents Ritual (2001) but that dithered around in release limbo for some time, eventually being dumped straight to video minus the Tales from the Crypt banner.
Ernest Dickerson went onto direct the tv movie Futuresport (1998) and the interesting Blaxploitation/horror homage Bones (2001). Dickerson mostly works as a director in tv these days.
(Nominee for Best Makeup Effects at this sites Best of 1995 Awards).