January 13, 1995 - "Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight" premieres.
"Demon Knight" was a spec horror script that had been kicking around Hollywood for years before falling into The Crypt family. It was designed as an 80s horror franchise launcher that got a quick camp n’ sleeze rewrite to fit the Tales From The Crypt franchise rather perfectly. Filmed during a hiatus between seasons of the TV series, "Demon Knight" stars William Sadler (@thatactorguy
) as a chosen one-man army against the forces of hell who finds himself stranded in a desert inn alongside character actors like Dick Miller and Jada Pinkett (@jadapinkettsmith
). He’s chased by a demon embodied in Billy Zane (@billyzane
), who delivers a deliriously entertaining, over the top performance of Nic Cage proportions, that reportedly earned him his role in Titanic.
Directed by Spike Lee’s long time cinematographer Ernest Dickerson (@ernest_dickerson
), the film is an absolute blast filled with stylish visuals and stunning special effects. The tale might not feature the ironic twist ending that is a Crypt staple, but other than that, it nails the tone of the series with disgusting gore gags and tongue-in-cheek performances pitched on a scale that 90s HBO could never match. Dickerson piles on all sorts of delightful visual tricks along with a few big satisfying action beats and beautiful monster designs kept in the shadows just enough to avoid overexposure. Sure there are times when the style and writing veer too far into cheese, but even that feels appropriate to the franchise banner (anything other than a pure B-movie would be inappropriate). Toss in a delightful Crypt Keeper wrap around and you have a Tales From The Crypt movie worthy of the HBO series and probably one strong enough to support it’s own sequel had anyone bothered to do such a thing (Billy Zane definitely deserved another crack at this madness). Forgotten for far too long, "Demon Knight" feels like one of the most purely entertaining Hollywood horror highlights of the early 90s, which was a pretty rough time for the genre overall.
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