2018 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 11: Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

Day 11 of the Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge is 11. That Soundtrack Though. One where the soundtrack is more impressive than the movie itself. And while I really love Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, I can also admit that I think the soundtrack is way better than the movie it plays during.

Unlike the HBO series and Amicus film, this story isn’t based on an EC Comic. Instead, it was intended to be Tom Holland’s follow-up to Child’s Play, then it was passed on to Pumpkinhead writer Mark Carducci, Pet Semetary director Mary Lambert and Charles Band’s Full Moon Features. finally, it was optioned by Joel Silver as one of three Tales from the Crypt spin-offs (the other two, Dead Easy and Body Count were never made).

Due to its low budget, two versions of the script were written — one with and one without demons! In the non-demon film, the Collector was a Bible salesman with “killer yuppies” as his henchmen. Luckily, that one never made it to the silver screen.

One night in the desert, The Collector (Billy Zane, chewing the scenery like no one else) is chasing after Frank Brayker (William Sadler, one of my favorite character actors). After a car crash, Frank escapes to a deconsecrated church turned boarding house thanks to town drunk Uncle Willy (character actor par excellence Dick Miller). And that boarding house is filled with even more great acting talent for such a small film: owner Irene (CCH Pounder), Wally the postal clerk (Roger Rabbit himself, Charles Fleischer), ex-con Jeryline (Jada Pinkett Smith), prostitute Cordelia and Roach, the cook (Thomas Haden Church, again, another incredible character actor).

Meanwhile, Sheriff Tupper (John Schuck from TV’s McMillan & Wife) and his deputy Bob meet The Collector near where he crashed. He convinces them that Brayker is a dangerous thief and that he needs their help. It seems Brayker has an important artifact, but when the cops confront him, they arrest both men for stealing cars. The Collector responds by punching the sheriff through the brain.

Brayker uses the key to drive The Collector outside the boarding house, so our antagonist uses his own blood to call upon demons. Now, everyone is trapped and must wait out the night. He then tells everyone in the house exactly what is going on: After God created Earth, demons used seven keys to steal the power of the cosmos. That’s why God created light, which scattered them and their keys across the galaxy. However, the demons have six of the keys now, with the artifact that Brayker holds being the last one they need to reclaim their power. At the Crucifixion, God had a thief named Sirach fill it with Christ’s blood and become the first guardian. Each guardian remains immortal while they hold the artifact, refilling it with their blood when they die. As proof, Brayker explains that he’s been alive since World War I, when his commanding officer passed the artifact to him.

What follows is a night of terror with the Collector pitting everyone against one another. At the close, there’s a new protector of the artifact and a new Collector, who walks away whistling the theme from the HBO series.

At the end of the closing credits, the Cryptkeeper returns to announce the next film, which ended up being Bordello of Blood, which has nothing to do with Demon Knight other than a scene where the artifact appears.

You know, Demon Knight isn’t horrible — it’s a cable TV late night watch, but the promise of a new Tales from the Crypt movie was ruined by having this be only one story (although the Crypt Keeper does interact with a slasher played by an uncredited John Larroquette).

But hey — enough about the film. Let’s discuss the soundtrack!

With Pantera’s closest thing to a single “Cemetery Gates” to “Hey Man, Nice Shot” by Filter, you get two songs nearly everyone knows. But then the soundtrack expands to include industrial stuff like Ministry, heavier metal from Biohazard, Sepultura, Megadeth and all over the map stuff like the Melvins, Rollins Band and the Gravediggaz. It reminds me of the great soundtracks to Spawn (which took the Judgement Night trick of combining metal with another genre, here with metal vs. techno, giving us Filter with the Crystal Method, Marilyn Manson with Sneaker Pimps, Slayer with Atari Teenage Riot and more) and Escape from L.A. (a movie I actually like, but the soundtrack boasts appearances by Tori Amos, Ministry, Clutch and the Deftones).

You can grab this movie from Shout! Factory.

Postscript: I absolutely adore this print from Gallery 1988!

1 thought on “2018 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 11: Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)”

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