Demon Knight (1995)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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Overall Rating 69%
Overall Rating
Ranked #3,365
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Connections: Tales From The Crypt

Brayker is a man who carries the last of seven keys, special containers which held the blood of Christ and were scattered across the universe to prevent the forces of evil from taking over. If The Collector gets the last key, the universe will fall into Chaos, and he has been tracking Brayker all the way to a small inn in a nowhere town. And now the final battle for the universe begins... --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: October 19, 2007
Let's take a trip back in time before getting down to business with this review, shall we? The date is January 13, 1995 - that's Friday the 13th - and the marquee attraction at your local movie theater is Demon Knight. Just a few nights ago, the excellent Comes the Dawn debuted on HBO, and although the rest of the season had been pretty lackluster, this episode instilled some hope that maybe, just maybe, the powers that be had a little bit of magic left in their proverbial bags.

Sure, this film was an obvious attempt to cash in on the Tales from the Crypt name while it still had some value left (only two more episodes would air before the show went on hiatus for over a year), but who could resist heading down to the theater and seeing the Cryptkeeper on the big screen? Well, it only opened at number three on the charts and quickly slid right on off of them, but as we return to the present day, Demon Knight seems to be an underrated film that should have done a little better than it did.

The film doesn't waste any time in getting things moving, as the opening scene introduces us to the main characters for the evening and also puts us in the middle of a high-speed car chase. For reasons which will be explained sooner rather than later, a guy who will come to be known as The Collector (Billy Zane) is chasing a fellow named Brayker (William Sadler) down the deserted streets of what appears to be a small desert town. The chase ends in a fiery explosion, and the two men wind up at a small motel run by Irene (CCH Pounder) and Jeryline (Jada Pinkett Smith) where they will continue the fight throughout the evening and the rest of the film.

It's eventually revealed that Brayker possesses the last of seven keys which will enable demons to take over the planet, and we also discover why The Collector is referred to as such: with a little help from his demonic minions, he has set out to retrieve this key from Brayker by any means necessary. It won't be quite so easy, however, as the key is filled with the blood of Christ (and various other notable figures), and when this blood comes into contact with one of these demons, the results are downright fatal for them. Not to be outdone, the demons and their leader devise other ways of getting the key, and it becomes something of a showdown between the motley crew of misfits holed up in the motel and the demons lurking outside of it.

If you want to get downright technical about it, I suppose that one could say that the core storyline has been done time and time again; after all, how many movies have we seen in which a group of humans hole up in a house / bunker / mall in a desperate attempt to survive the onslaught of demons / monsters / zombies lurking outside? However, the magic in Demon Knight lies in the details as well as the characters found within. The concept of a magical key filled with the blood of holy men which has been passed down from defender to defender was definitely an interesting twist, and while it may not sound very thrilling on paper, it turned out that this small little wrinkle in the plot added tremendously to the overall value. It transformed this from just another monster movie into something particularly memorable, and to be blunt, it simply worked... and worked damned well.

What really sets Demon Knight apart from the rest of the similarly-themed films floating around out there are the leading men: put simply, William Sadler and Billy Zane are fantastic and mesh together perfectly. It's rare that a film delivers such a perfect antagonist for the hero to play off of (and vice versa), but this was delivered and then some from tonight's feature film. I was also a fan of just about every one of the minor characters found within the motel, as each was given a distinct personality and was also given time to shine instead of just being there to serve as demon fodder. The only exception here was Jada Pinkett Smith; even though she was given third billing in the film, I felt that her character and her performance was easily the worst of the bunch. The lady may have done some great things in her other films (I can't fairly comment as I haven't seen enough of them to pass judgment), but if this is any indication of her talent, I truly have to wonder why she's such a household name... and the "Smith" part of her name doesn't count with performances this bad.

Overall though, that one character is a minor blemish on the film as a whole as I felt that it delivered everything that a Tales flick should: plenty of gore, some good scares, interesting characters, and of course, a sizable helping of dark humor. It's not a perfect film, but it is one that can be watched over and over again. 8/10.
Schillinger #1: Schillinger - added August 22, 2004 at 3:11am
I'm not a big fan of Billy Zane, but he was excellent here. Movie was pretty good, but started to suck near the end (when they killed off almost every character, even the main one).
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added September 12, 2005 at 9:09pm
I don't know what it is about this movie, but I really love it.
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added October 7, 2005 at 8:29pm
This was by far the best of the Tales From the Crypt films, a comedic and pretty scary little flick with great performances from Billy Zane and William Sadler. I remember loving this film as a kid, and I still love it today. 7/10.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added December 31, 2005 at 8:06pm
This movie was great, far, far better than "Bordello of Blood"... but this one had less tits and no Phil Fondacaro or Corey Feldman... but this one was still better. Probablly because it had your attention better.
Dametria #5: Dametria - added April 24, 2007 at 12:15pm
Crispy #6: Crispy - added June 2, 2012 at 3:08am
Damn near perfect, in no small part due to Billy Zane alone. I loved this.
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