With February being Black History Month I’m going to try to sprinkle in some black lead, directed, written, or any combination of them throughout the month. I decided to have the first one be Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight. It’s one of the movies that I watched way back when it first came out on VHS, liked it and then forgot about it because there were so many movies being released at the time. Its been a recent rediscover for me and I like it so much more than I did when I first watched it.
Demon Knight was directed by Ernest Dickerson, and I think this is the only movie of his that I’ve seen. I know he has done extensive TV work so I might have seen some of his work that way. It was written by Mark Bishop, Ethan Reiff, and Cyrus Voris. While this has been Bishop’s only major writing credit, he’s had others, but this was the only major one. Reiff and Voris have several major credits to their name, among them the television series Brimstone and the Kung fu Panda movies. Ernest Dickerson brought a lot of style to the movie. I’m sure there was some comedy in the script, but I feel like he allowed the cast to make the characters their own.
A highlight of the movie is Billy Zane’s performance. His character is played as the smarmiest combination of used car salesman and politician. That’s a special combination of smarm and his interactions with each of the characters are all so much fun. It also stars Jada Pinkett, before the Smith, as well as William Sadler, Brenda Bakke, C. C. H. Pounder, Thomas Haden Church, Dick Miller, Charles Fleischer, and John Kassir. This was the first thing I saw Thomas Haden Church in after he left Wings, and this was a huge change. C. C. H. Pounder was a lot of fun and the chemistry she had with Gary Farmer is kind of sweet.
The effects in Demon Knight are still pretty fantastic almost thirty years later. The creature effects for the demons are gnarly. You feel pretty dirty after looking at them for too long. They all kind of glisten and just seem icky, which is fitting for them. The limited CG that was used still holds up pretty well, but that’s because it was used sparingly. There’s also some good miniature work that helps the film feel bigger than it would have felt without it. The music by Edward Shearmur is good. Between the score and the licensed music there’s plenty of solid music in the movie.
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight is a horror comedy that’s a lot of fun and holds up pretty well. This is a franchise that I feel would be great for a new set of movies. With the amount of comic book adaptations that have been happening in the last twenty years there haven’t been all that many horror comics getting that treatment. All of the EC Comics would be a great fit for that. You can stream Demon Knight on Shudder. I give Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight 9.5 relic keys out of 10.