The s were victim to an unfortunate drought in the number of truly bad-ass horror films. By 'bad-ass' I'm referring to the type of horror flicks that are testosterone-charged, action-filled movies about people fighting some type of evil. They're usually full of a decent amount of humor, as well, and often favor style over substance, with the end result being a movie that is, above anything else, a fun time. The s were full of movies like this, from the Evil Dead films to The Lost Boys. But the s were not so fortunate. Films of this type were few and far between, as studios favored more psychological fare, or stayed away from horror films altogether.
Demon Knight is a diamond in the rough. The first of two Tales From the Crypt features (the second being the far-inferior Bordello Of Blood), Demon Knight takes the bad-ass tag and runs with it, throwing out a heaping pile of action, scares, violence, gore, and one-liners.
Tongue is placed firmly in cheek from the opening moments of the film, thanks to an introductory segment by the Crypt Keeper that lets you know right away what to expect from the rest of Demon Knight. The film then jumps quickly into the heat of the action, introducing The Collector (played to perfection by Billy Zane), his army of demons, the lone warrior Brayker, and the numerous innocent bystanders that are thrown into the mix. Chaos envelopes a small desert motel as demons surround it, with the hotels inhabitants finding themselves trapped inside. As the story evolves, loyalties are tested as The Collector attempts to seduce each of the survivors into giving him The Key (a flask containing sacred blood). The longer the night goes on, the bloodier things get as the demons get increasingly closer to reaching their goal, and as the human fighters are picked off one at a time, leading to a final battle between the Collector and any humans left alive.
What makes Demon Knight so special, apart from its place as one of the only films of its type to emerge from the s drought, is the fact that everything in the film works the way it is supposed to. The premise is exciting, the scares are effective, and the jokes are funny. In addition, there's plenty of gore throughout the film, and a heavy rock soundtrack to compliment the film's tone. Granted, none of the elements in Demon Knight are all that original. The film follows essentially the same formula that was created by George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and perpetuated by the Evil Dead movies in the s, and even From Dusk Till Dawn later in the s. This fact hardly matters, however, as the film is so good at being what it is. There are no misplaced intentions, no desires to be anything other than a totally entertaining horror flick; a task that Demon Knight most definitely accomplishes.
There may not be anything new under the sun in Demon Knight, but its tried and true formula of action, humor, and horror make for a perfect combination, and fulfill the film's promises of a great time. You might not learn anything new about demons, but you're bound to have a lot of fun watching them.