After Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis graduated from USC, they wanted to break into movies and decided that an exploitation film was the easiest way in. They pitched this script to John Milius, yet ended up debuting with 1941.
When Tales from the Crypt — the TV series — started becoming a series of movies, instead of mining the old EC Comics, like the show and movies based on it, like Creepshow did, the idea was to make longer stand-alone films that were not adaptions. I could be cynical and say that it was just using the brand name to make movies that no one wanted otherwise, but Demon Knight was so good that I couldn’t think that way.
Bordello of Blood is exactly the kind of junk I figured they’d make. This script was picked instead of others considered, including Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners and Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk till Dawn.
At a budget of $2.5 million dollars, the film looks cheaper than the TV series that gave it life, which is quite backward. And while Joel Silver was the producer, that led to all manner of questionable decisions, like his idea that supermodel actresses was what would change Hollywood and hiring Dennis Miller, who did not want to be in the movie and said he’d only do it for a million dollars. The studios said no, so Silver played fast and loose with the books and took $750,000 out of the special effects budget. You can really tell. During the holy watergun fight with the evil sex workers, the effects go from really good to beyond horrible, often within the same shot.
Further problems came up when Erika Eleniak — who had left Baywatch because she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress — allegedly did not want to play the character of Catherine. What a movie! Two actors that had no interest in being in it, a sliced and diced special effects budget and a movie shot in Canada due to Silver’s past union issues, which further had a non-union crew angered by the fact that Miller would rarely show up, working around the schedule of his Dennis Miller Live TV show, keeping them from seeing their families on weekends. Oh yeah — the script supervisor who was Miller’s stand-in — lots of the movie was shot without him — couldn’t remember all of Miller’s dialogue, which he’d frequently ad-lib, so the movie is filled with continuity issues.
The film starts on a great note, as some treasure hunters find the grave of Lilith, the queen of all vampires. They’re all killed by her except for the one who has the key from Demon Knight. Speaking of that film, its hero William Sandler has a cameo as a mummy in the Crypt Keeper segment.
Then, Caleb (Corey Feldman) and his buddy Reggie get attacked by vampires in a house of ill repute, revealing Lilith as Angie Everhart — that supermodel idea — and Tallulah as Juliet Reagh, Penthouse Pet for April 1987. Caleb’s sister — Eleniak — hires Rafe Guttman (Miller) to find her brother, bringing him to the titular bordello of blood.
Hey, the movie at least is good for trivia, as you have two of the stars of the 80’s bigger vampire movies — Feldman from Lost Boys and Chris Sarandon from Fright Night — in the cast. It also has a completely non-sensical ending that ignores all traditions of vampirism. And oh yeah — Reggie is played by Matt Hill, who was the voice of Raphael to Feldman’s Donatello in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.
This is the only movie Gilbert Adler would direct, although he produced Constantine and wrote Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.
As for this being a heavy metal movie, it does have a soundtrack with Anthrax doing the theme song, Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” — everyone used that in their movies at one point — and Redd Kross covering Kiss’ “Deuce.”
Honestly, this movie could have an entire soundtrack by Black Sabbath and I’d still hate it.
I recently revisited this and boy was it still delightful for all the chunky gore. I’m sorry you didn’t care for it. But, aside from my love of the gore, I wouldn’t object to your criticisms. I just switch my brain from 40-yr-old to 14-yr-old and bask in the nudity and heart-ripping fun.
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