Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight is a film you might have caught on SyFy back in the day (well, then it was probably Sci-Fi) - they used to show it all the time, along with Bordello of Blood. Demon Knight has all of the signs of being simply an extended cut of a Crypt episode, even opening and ending with the theme song music and journey through the Cryptkeeper's house. And even though Crypt was nearly at its end in 1995 when this film released, it still manages to capture the essence of the tale.
William Sadler stars as Brayker, a man on the lam who is being chased down by the mysterious man known only as The Collector (Billy Zane). Sadler also starred in the first episode of Tales from the Crypt, "The Man Who Was Death", and his appearance here is a welcome one because his acting is so quirky and characterized by odd facial expressions. So too is Zane; he actually gets to be the more humorous character in Demon Knight, even though he is the ultimate bad guy. Brayker stumbles upon a small town and a run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere after being rundown by the Collector; he crashes at the place with a few other misfits until the cops come hunting him down because of a car accident he was involved in.
The Collector's hot on the heels, and he really wants his precious key back. It's an antique, he says, though it's carved and gilted and holds some of the blood of Christ. Soon, the Collector reveals himself for what he really is - a demon who wants the key because it'll cause some sort of terrible consequence for humanity, ushering in an earthly hell. Brayker is the man who must stop him from getting his hands on the key, but he's also got a lot of hostages to deal with along with some nasty demon baddies with glowing green eyes.
Director Ernest R. Dickerson gets what makes a Tales From the Crypt episode so entertaining: B-movie acting, boobs, goopy blood, and lots of ridiculous humor. He throws it at us in spades in Demon Knight, and the whole first sequence of the film is just an elaborate ruse to give us some double-D boobs before prompting the Cryptkeeper to show up. A lot of the film is in excess, but that's what the show revels in. The whole atmosphere is farcically moody, a traditional dark and stormy night setting that never lets up.
Demon Knight also features some of the craziest ways to defeat demons ever, too. You must shoot them in their green eyes. Miss, and you're probably going to get your heart eaten out by the demon's snakelike tongue, although that only seems to happen some of the time. Or you might get your head punched in. There aren't many rules to the film, and that means the viewer is going to have a lot of fun with the storyline even if it doesn't always jive.
The whole thing is just a mess of gross, pulpy violence and humor. Zane has a ball here, pouring on a southern drawl, then shaking it off again as a casual businessman looking to make a good deal with anyone who wants to hand over the key. Short vignettes highlight each character's paradise; Zane gets to ham it up, and Dickerson gets to include several well-endowed naked ladies. Everyone wins.
Demon Knight is a film that is really hard to gripe about. Sure, it's often stretching its bounds as a full-length feature, and it doesn't do a very good job establishing realism within its plot. It doesn't even do a good job explaining what the demons are or why one person has to stop them. But Tales from the Crypt's best episodes haven't needed to establish a solid realistic plot. Instead, they throw up some gory fun for the horror fan, and that's just what you'll find in Demon Knight. Except this time, the tale's a bit longer and armed with a little more money.