I was a kid in the early 90s and I was obsessed with horror. And things that I just shouldn’t have been watching. And we had HBO. Which, naturally, made me the prime demographic for Tales from the Crypt. I remember spending many late nights sneaking around and watching episodes introduced by The Cryptkeeper and then re-watching and re-watching the episodes later as a teenager. Not being able to convince my parents to take me to see either of the Cryptkeeper’s theatrical outings in 1995 or 1996 – I was but nine or ten years old, after all – those waited for me to consume on VHS in the late 90s, spurring my binge of the entire series upon entering high school. And I was not disappointed.
Demon Knight is far and away the more revered and successful of the two titles. It’s directed by the hugely underrated Ernest Dickerson (Bones, Surviving the Game) and has a solid cast featuring hot-at-the-time names like Billy Zane and Jada Pinkett, with genre mainstays Dick Miller and William Sadler joining for the fun. But, more importantly, it feels like Tales from the Crypt through and through. That is, if you more than triple the show’s runtime and amplify the gore and nudity quotient to an absurd, almost implausible, level. Demon Knight was made for the nine year old in us all. It’s crass, colorful, bold and tells a meat-and-potatoes pulpy genre story tightly and with style. It’s everything that I could want from a Tales from the Crypt movie then and now. I’m also fairly certain that I had ever seen this many naked women on screen at one time before. And I had watched Showgirls and dabbled in the early, heavy buffering, days of the internet at that point. And then…
Bordello of Blood
…they gave us this. Which really only has nudity (lots and lots of it) and gore (not that much) going for it. Honestly, I think this one gets more hate than it deserves. Is it as good as Demon Knight? Fuck no, but that doesn’t make it awful. Bordello of Blood is supremely silly and works way more so as a comedy than it does as a horror flick. Tales from the Crypt has always had humor going for it and this one takes that to borderline parody level, certainly aided by Dennis Miller being the lead. By this time in the 90s vampires were a big deal at the box office with titles like Interview with the Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula getting the genre taken seriously by Hollywood. And attempts had been made at making them funny as well, with the previous year’s double whammy of failures in Vampire In Brooklyn and Dracula: Dead And Loving It. Though this wouldn’t do the genre any favors, it remains a fun, gross flick that doesn’t fully taint the license. It may not be Demon Knight good, but few things are.
Scream Factory have brought these titles to Blu-ray for the first time and the results should please fans, which have definitely been waiting for this. Demon Knight fares a bit better in the transfer department with a very nice, faithful look featuring bright colors, dark blacks, and a nice layer of film grain throughout. The practical effects stand out nicely and never look too clean. Bordello of Blood looks good but it seems a bit washed out, especially in comparison to Demon Knight. The blacks are solid and I didn’t notice any damage or overt degradation, but the color palette just seems dull to my eyes. Especially the reds. Outside of that, it looks really good, I just suspect that it didn’t get the attention that Demon Knight did. Both discs have DTS HD 5.1 and 2.0 options. The tracks are all around solid, with Demon Knight‘s being the more bombastic of them, especially in 5.1. I didn’t notice any issues with distortion or balance. Quality work here.
The supplements here are the real highlight though. Starting with Demon Knight, we get two audio commentaries. The first is with Dickerson and it’s a solid track with a lot of information and he’s casual and conversational throughout. The second is with the effects team, which I only sampled. It’s a lot more technical in nature, which makes sense, and should please fans. Next up we get a forty minute feature titled “Under Siege: The Making of Demon Knight” which is a newly produced short doc on the making of the film and features a slew of new interviews with cast and crew. It’s a great watch and fans will eat it up, I only wish it were longer. After that we get a ten minute Q&A with Dick Miller and Ernest Dickerson from a festival at the Egyptian Theater. It’s short and sweet but nice to see Miller get the spotlight for a while. Rounding out the package is some stills galleries and a trailer.
On to Bordello of Blood, we start with a commentary with screenwriter A.L. Katz which is anecdotal and fun and may even make the movie more enjoyable to watch. After that, we get a 36 minute feature titled “Tainted Blood: The Making of Bordello of Blood” which mirrors the Demon Knight doc and offers more interviews with cast and crew. Even though this is the lesser of the two films, the stories here are great and everyone seems to have a lot to share about making the movie. I really wanted this to be longer. After that, there’s a really fun video store promo, a trailer and stills galleries.
These films – like the TV series they’re derived from – likely pack a lot of nostalgia for genre fans that grew up in the 90s. I’m happy to report that Scream Factory has done well by them. Yes, even Bordello of Blood. I personally would have liked to have seen them be packaged together but I can also understand that quite a few people will only want to pick up Demon Knight. Regardless of which you choose to get, they’re finally in HD and carry great supplemental packages with them. Recommended.