You know what actor I absolutely love? Mr. Billy Zane. I think most people who recognize that name will know him as the bad guy from Titanic first, maybe as one of the guys in Biff’s gang in Back to the Future, and rarely as the titular hero in The Phantom. Hell, he even has a random cameo at the end of the lame Holmes & Watson as himself. But for me, my favorite performance of his will always be Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight.
Our story follows Brayker (William Sadler) on the run from the Collector (Zane). Brayker hides out at a boarding house filled with colorful characters; the breakout performances include the snarky owner (CCH Pounder), an irredeemable asshole (Thomas Haden Church), but most importantly, the overworked and underappreciated ex-con, Jeryline (Jada Pinkett before she married Will Smith). After an attempt to arrest Brayker doesn’t go his way, the Collector kills a cop and reveals himself to be a demon. See, he’s after a key that Brayker has, and if he gets it then that’s it for all non-demon life. Everywhere. No, really EVERYWHERE, since we find out that the demons have six of the keys already and the seventh was on Earth, implying that demons scoured all of the universe for them. Anyway, the key is a bottle that was once filled with the blood of Christ, and has been refilled with the blood of a demon knight–the current one being Brayker–as they die, passing the burden onto the next knight. As people turn into demons and/or die, soon it’s just a mortally wounded Brayker and Jeryline. He passes it on to her, which she uses creatively; when the Collector tries to seduce her, she spits the holy blood in his face, exploding him. The only survivor, she starts her journey, and we see a new Collector on her trail.
This is one of those movies that falls into “cult classic” territory because it’s… um… well I like it, at least. Sure, there’s gratuitous nudity at the very beginning that has nothing to do with the plot, and more nudity later that barely serves a purpose. And Thomas Haden Church’s character is an asshole to a cartoonish degree (seriously, dude, you don’t care that demons will kill literally everyone because you have hemorrhoids?). And not all the jokes land. But Billy Zane is amazing in this. He’s goofy yet sinister at the right times, and we at Movie Night have always wanted a demon “buddy cop” movie starring him and William Fichtner from Drive Angry. And here’s a fun fact! While this is not a slasher movie, it is still a horror movie, making Jada Pinkett the first black final girl! Don’t 100% quote me on that, but after a bunch of research I couldn’t find any previous horror movie where the only one to survive at the end was a black woman, so that’s something! Fun tidbit about a movie dear to my heart.
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