Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Night of Horror with The Vern: Tales From The Crypt (The Theatrical Flicks)

Back in the 90's HBO along with executive producers, Walter Hill("The Warriors")  Richard Donner("The Omen") David Giler("Alien") Joel Silver("Demolition Man") and Robert Zemeckis("The Frighteners") got together to create a television series based on the horror comics by William Gains called "Tales From The Crypt".  Each episode was introduced by a wise cracking ghoul known as the Crypt Keeper, and each one had a shocking and somewhat ironic ending just like the original comics did. The show was very successful and ran for several years.  Unfortunately I will not be talking about this beloved series(Most of them are available via Youtube.  Check em out,they are a lot of fun), but instead the two feature length movies  that were released theatrically.

Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Cast: Willam Sadler,Billy Zane Jada Pinkett Smith
 Writers: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, Mark Bishop
Director:Ernest R Dickerson

** and a 1/2*'s out of Four

Of the two featured here,this one is an extended episode of the series.  Complete with the same opening theme and intro by the Crypt Keeper.  The story begins with two cars in a high speed chase through a desert landcape(to the sounds of some really cool 90's rock,I must say).  Both cars get into an accident, but only one is seen leaving the wreckage.  We later learn that this is Frank Brayker(William Sadler) and the man in the other vehichle was the Collector(Billy Zane). Frank eventually finds a halfway house run by Irene(CCH Pounder) and discovers a wide assortment of character actors living there.  Thomas Hayden Church,Charles Fleischer,and Dick Miller are among the other residents.  the Collector ends up finding Brayker(with the help of the local police) and wants him to give up an artifact that is shaped like a big giant cross filled with blood.  It is here where he shows his true colors and reveals that he is a true demon by punching a hole through a cop's head(I'm guessing he couldn't find his business card).  Frank is able to get the Collector outside the house,and keep him out with the use of the blood inside the cross.  What follows next is a game of wits as the demon uses his powers of dreams and lies to trick some into doing what he wants.  While Mr. Brayker and the others help defend the house.(They should have gotten that one girl from "You're Next" to help out with that)

With only a few gory scenes and some monsters involved.  This big film version of the series felt more like an action movie rather than a horror one.  Taking the concept of "Assault on Precinct 13" and changing the convicts into demons doesn't make it that much scarier.  The actors all do a good job with their performances and the story never drags too much. Although it is a really long time before anything remotely scary does happens in this. If this wasn't directly connected to the show, I would probably have enjoyed this more.   It would have been a fun B style horror flick done in the style as say "From Dusk Til Dawn".  Too bad I've got noting really nice to say about our next flick, even though it did feature some really hot women..

Tales From The Crypt Presents : Bordello of Blood

Cast: Dennis Miller, Angie Everheart, Erika Eleniak
Writers: Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis(Story) A.L. Katz, Gilbert Adler(Screenplay)
Director: Gilbert Adler

* out of four.

How this is associated with the series I'll never know.  the Crypt Keeper isn't even introduced until after the first scene, and by then we already know what the story is.  They could have easily replaced that scene with a television ad and no one would know that this was a "Tales From The Crypt" property.  The story involves the awakening of a really old vampire named Lilith( who later becomes the smoking hot red head Angie Everheart) who decides to open a brothel, lure horny men in, and then kill them.  One of those men is played by Cory Feldman and after he's been missing for a few days. His sister Katherine(Baywatch Babe Erika Eleniak) comes looking for him.  She somehow ends up meeting this wise cracking private detective named Rafe(Dennis Miller) and the two go out to find out what happened to her brother.

This story was written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis(yes, the two people who helped make "Back To The Future") and I can't help but feel that this was written by them when they were just fourteen and wanted to see some naked girls on screen.  The story is nothing that great, as it follows the same beats we have seen before.  Oh no, Rafe discovers that the town funeral home is a front for the vampire's brothel.  But of course no one believes him when he brings witnesses back and there is no evidence.  Angie Everheart and Erika Elainiak do all right with their roles because they are the two most basic archetypes of fantasy eroticism.  Lilith is the temptress and Katherine is the innocent.  The character of Rafe should have been played by Bruce Campbell instead of Miller.  He would have been more goofy, and somewhat still vain.  But he would have also been more likeable too.  There really wasn't anything scary about this feature either. Yeah it has some gore when Lilith eats people or changes into a grotesque creature.  But for the most part this is really a dull movie.  The only thing that saved this from being a no star film was the very last scene.  It was unexpected and I liked that it surprised me. I just wish I didn't have to wait a full 85 minutes to get to it.

The movie "The Frighteners" was going to be another full length feature associated with the show before Peter Jackson got involved.  I'm glad that it didn't because a different director would have been involved with that project.  But if Jackson still took helm and it remained a "Tales From The Crypt Presents" property, it would have been the best one of all the films. Until next time dear kiddies.  This is your friend The Vern.  Wishing you all a good fright.


  1. Great reviews! I watched plenty of that TV show, but I never saw the feature films, weirdly enough.

    1. The show is all you really need to see. I wish Netflix streamed those instead of these movies Thanks for the comment Brittani

  2. I'm a Dennis Miller fanboy, so I feel obliged to take up for what is pretty much his only starring role. I do not, however, feel obliged to do so with much conviction. lol

  3. His stand up in his early days as well as his work on SNL was really funny.He just doesn't have the chops to pull off a full length feature

  4. I liked the series, but I never managed to see the movies. I guess I didn't miss much, although I'm curious to see Dick (not Dennis) Miller's role in the first movie. Interesting bit of trivia about The Frighteners. I wasn't aware that was originally supposed to be an offshoot.

    1. Thanks for the comment Barry, I just started recently rewatching the show and it holds up very well. The first movie is like The Simpsons Movie in that we get a longer episode but not the best one

  5. i used to see the series,at a certain point it became a bit of a laugh and lost the scary touch,but it was allways surprising.Reasonable entertainement i guess. Meanhwile i am looking forward to hear from you if ,The Conjuring and Insidious 2 are worth watching or not.
    Cheers mate

    1. Thanks for reading. I always thought the series blended humor and horror very well As for The Conjuring (See It) and Insidious 2( I hated the first one, but now want to see both of these movies back to back.)

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