Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - DEMON KNIGHT & BORDELLO OF BLOOD on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Scream Factory - DEMON KNIGHT & BORDELLO OF BLOOD on Blu-ray

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT (1995; Ernest Dickerson)
Tales From the Crypt was one of the early TV shows that really got my attention when I would get glimpses of it on the occasional free HBO weekend my family would be privy to every once in a while. It was one of the first shows that I had seen that combined explicit violence/horror with sex and nudity. I had gotten hooked on anthology shows as a kid with the classics like The Twilight Zone and here was an r-rated horror version of that. Granted Tales From the Crypt was no Twilight Zone, but it resonated in a similar way because the "Tales" were almost always stories of comeuppance for the main characters. It has this cynical morality about it that was both offputting and yet it somehow jibed with me when I was first seeing the show. Since it was during high school when a saw the show, it might have given me a little bit of pause when it came to thinking about misbehaving as some of my classmates did. Not to say that Tales From the Crypt kept me out of trouble in high school (it was mostly fear that did that), but it certainly crept into my subconscious a bit. To this day I still have a knee-jerk reaction to "too-good-to-be-true" scenarios and I do believe that some of it stems from that show. All that said, I wasn't sure what to expect of a Tales From the Crypt movie. It seemed that most shows that were adapted into movies didn't really work. DEMON KNIGHT works though, interestingly enough.
One thing I always tend to like from a movie is when it doesn't try to give me all the story information up front. I can wait to figure things out if I feel like I'm in the hands of a solid filmmaker who isn't jerking me around by just being sloppy with the exposition. DEMON KNIGHT opens with a little car chase & collision between drivers Willam Sadler and Billy Zane. We don't know why Zane is pursuing Sadler, but it soon becomes clear that something strange is afoot. Another thing I like to see is when a movie becomes a "siege movie". Siege movies are always great drama. If done well, they can really be engaging despite it typically meaning that the film will take place mostly in one location. John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is a great example of what this subgenre has to offer in terms of solid entertainment. ASSAULT traces its roots back to Hawks' RIO BRAVO which is probably the greatest siege film ever for my money, so it's a pretty glorious sub-genre. So DEMON KNIGHT establishes the siege early, but even then it leaves some questions about William Sadler's character unanswered. It also establishes that this isn't any ordinary attack on a building. Nope, this one is freakin' supernatural. A siege by a vicious street gang is one thing, but a siege by a bunch of demons is something altogether more gnarly. Especially when one of the demons (Zane) can charm his way into possessing the bodies of the poor mortals within the place and infiltrate that way too. DEMON KNIGHT is fun though and pretty clever. Clever not only in its plotting and exposition, but also with its gore. William Sadler is one of those guys that you might forget about if you haven't seen him in a bit. He's one of the great modern character actors though and DEMON KNIGHT affords him the opportunity to show what he can do. I love it when actors like him get a nice leading part to strut their stuff. Dick Miller is in this too and though it's far from a lead role, he still gets a lot more screen time than in most of his other appearances and that is a very welcome thing. Speaking of underrated and underused guys (at least in the present), Billy Zane absolutely kills it in this movie. He was much more obligatory in the 1990s, but I can never understand why actors like that fade away from prominent use. Examing Zane's IMDB, it's clear he's never stopped working and continues to do several projects a year. He just deserves to be put into something like JURASSIC WORLD or some other large budget item. He's a dude who delivers the goods when it comes to slick, evil characters. So DEMON KNIGHT has a whole heap of things in its corner and it seems to be now getting a good deal more recognition for its quality as a genre classic of sorts. Well worth picking up folks.
Special Features:
-A NEW Audio Commentary With Director Ernest Dickerson.
-A NEW Audio Commentary With Special Effects Creator Todd Masters, Visual Effects Supervisor John Van Vliet, Special Effects Coordinator Thomas Bellissimo, And Demon Performer Walter Phelan.
-NEW "Under Siege: The Making Of Demon Knight" – Featuring Interviews With Director Ernest Dickerson, Co-producer A.L. Katzm Screenwriters Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, And Mark Bishop, Stars Billy Zane, William Sadler, Brenda Bakke, Charles Fleischer And More.
-A Panel Discussion From The American Cinematheque Featuring Director Ernest Dickerson, Actor Dick Miller And Special Effects Maestro Rick Baker.
DEMON KNIGHT can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/1kiDRLS

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: BORDELLO OF BLOOD (1996; Gilbert Adler)
Early on in Tainted Blood - The Making of BORDELLO OF BLOOD, the new retrospective documentary on this Scream Factory Blu-ray, it is made quite clear that this was a problematic movie. The doc Includes interviews with Corey Feldman, A.L. Katz, Stephen Loevejoy, Todd Masters, Angie Everhart and Erika Eleniak. As the title would imply, this documentary doesn't shy away from the troubles that this production had and instead its participants discuss them very candidly. I appreciate this quite a bit actually as many pieces like this just turn into lots of back patting and inflated compliments. As much as I get that show business is very tricky and nobody wants to burn bridges by calling other people out for lame behavior, it feels starts to feel ambiguously disingenuous when people say that everyone was a "joy to work with". Not so here though as I said and one cast member in particular is hung out to dry for his prima donna behavior. That would be Dennis Miller and based on all accounts here, he was more than a bit challenging to work with on this movie. It always saddens me to hear stories about people not being at all enthusiastic about the work they are doing on a film an how they can make things more difficult for everyone involved with their crap. Like I said though, it is nice to hear people call him out for it. The movie had more problems to deal with than just Miller though and it's kind of amazing the movie turned out as well as it did. Not to say it's some amazing or remarkably memorable piece of cinema, but it's not as bad as it was purported to be at the time it came out. Apparently Dennis Miller chose to not do a lot of the dialogue as it was written in the script and instead opted to ad lib is own clever witticisms a lot of the time. While I must say I found some of his quips to be entertaining, this certainly proved difficult for the other actors when he decidedly didn't stick around to shoot any shot he wasn't the main focus of. So they would shoot everything of Dennis' and he would ad lib and then bail on the other actors when they were shooting the reverse angles. I understand that there are some gigantic stars that may decide they don't want to be in the shots that they aren't in, but then there are the real pros who will hang around to help the other actors and give them something real to play off of. It just makes for better performances and a better movie all around you'd think. Anyway, as much as it bums me out to hear tell of such disrespectful behavior on a movie set, I was reminded that this is just how the business can be sometimes and the fact that we get as many good movies out of Hollywood in a year as we do is truly stunning. I cannot imagine the difficulty of finishing a movie on any scale and having it turn out well. So the neat thing about wonderful boutique labels like Scream Factory bringing out these older genre artifacts is that it is much easier to view the films themselves as basically new discoveries that are completely detached from the circumstances surrounding them when they were originally released. I can't remember if I ever even saw BORDELLO OF BLOOD when it hit VHS. It had such a bad rap, I may have skipped it altogether. It actually became a situation where I assumed I had watched it and had found it so forgettable that I couldn't recall a thing about it (which has certainly happened before). Not sure if that was the case, but I must admit that it was fun to watch it with low expectations and it ended up being a good time.
Special Features:
-A NEW Audio commentary with Producer/Writer A.L. Katz, moderated by Rob Galluzo (of Blumhouse.com and Killer POV). Katz is quite vocal about the rough spots with this production and there is some overlap with some of the areas he touches on in the Making of, but there's a lot to be learned from this track and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
-NEW Tainted Blood: The Making Of Bordello Of Blood – Interivews With Actors Corey Feldman, Angie Everhart, Erika Eleniak, Co-Writer & Co-Producer A.L. Katz, Editor & Second Unit Director Stephen Lovejoy, And Special Effects Creator Todd Masters.
BORDELLO OF BLOOD can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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