Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Demon KnightJust in time for Halloween festivities, fans of the widely popular TALES FROM THE CRYPT rejoice as the collector’s edition of TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT hits home entertainment shelves everywhere on October 20, 2015 from SCREAM FACTORY™.  Infested with a talented cast, thrilling special effects and the crypt keeper’s deadpan delights, DEMON KNIGHT is directed by genre vet Ernest Dickerson (The Walking Dead, Dexter, Masters of Horror) and features a strong cast, including Billy Zane (Titanic), William Sadler (Iron Man 3), Jada Pinkett (Gotham), Brenda Bakke (L.A. Confidential), CCH Pounder (Orphan,Avatar), Thomas Haden Church (Spider-Man 3, Sideways), Dick Miller (Gremlins) and Charles Fleischer (Zodiac).  This highly sought-after cult horror classic debuts for the first time on Blu-ray™.  The collector’s edition Blu-ray™ features exciting bonus content, newly rendered retro-style artwork, a reversible wrap with theatrical key art and more! 

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A mysterious drifter known as Brayker possesses the last of seven ancient keys that hold the power to stop the forces of darkness and protect all humanity from ultimate evil. But the human race is safe only so long as Brayker can evade the demonic Collector who has gathered the other six keys. In his obsessive quest for the key, the Collector rallies an army of ghastly cadavers against Brayker and the inhabitants of a run-down hotel. Armed with automatic weapons, sacred blood and sadistic humor, Brayker and the strong-willed Jeryline must lead the other guests in a gruesome battle against the Collector and his evil horde of ghouls.

Growing up, I never had HBO.  I was big on Tales From The Crypt though.  Anytime I was at a friend’s who did have the premium channel, or my cable provider had a free preview week of the channel or my local video store carried VHS tapes of episodes I was all over it.  So, no, I’ve not seen the entire series, not even close.  In 1995, it brought great excitement that the show was making the jump to the big screen.  If anybody was going to consistently bring good horror movies to the big screen, it should be the Tales From The Crypt label.

First up was Demon Knight.  I seemingly remember this movie being quite popular and a big hit, but then I looked and saw it was a January dump off movie.  It must have been quite the surprise for the studio then.  It made good low budget horror movie money for back then.  Seemingly, I remember Fangoria covering it big time, and I definitely bought the issue with the cover and a big chunk devoted to the film.

Demon Knight was a loud and in your face horror action film at the time.  There was a lot of great creature work and cool effects.  Surprisingly none of it was CGI, which would have been an option at the time.  The creatures are effective, the make-up work is gross and scary and when they get shot or blow up, their body parts and flesh go flying everywhere.  As much of an action extravaganza as the film gets to be, so it is with the effects.  It gives the feeling that people were having plenty of fun in making this film.  Its primarily serious, but isn’t afraid to drop some humor, get campy or go over the top.  And it does so with a good sense of confidence that never loses the audience.

Probably not at the time, but looking back, what a ensemble cast the movie carries.  Billy Zane is our scene stealer as the film’s villain.  His performance is one that slowly unravels as the film progresses.  It starts as very straight and moves into a cross of some sinister devilish stuff crossed with some Freddy Krueger camp.  Jada Pinkett-Smith, our hero, gives a very nice performance.  And, while watching, I realize how fantastic of an actor William Sadler is that we just don’t give the man enough credit.  He commands the screen here, and gives the chops of both an action hero and a wise old sage.  Through his career we’ve seen him in a wide range of many different roles and I think maybe he gets taken for granted.  And it would be rude of me not to mention that the man, Dick Miller has a groovy role in it.

Going back and revisiting Demon Knight, I can’t imagine others not finding it a lot of fun as well.  While not overall a very scary movie, I think some of the spooks are sitll there.  But, its the monster effects and the action that really carry this movie over well.  It also feels like a lost Stephen King story too.  Its got terrific action, terrific effects and a terrific ensemble cast.  More than worthy of the Tales From The Crypt label, its a good horror film with or without that street cred association.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Once the opening credits have finished, the transfer’s quality takes a significant jump and looks very impressive.  The image when well lit, looks pretty sharp and well defined.  Details like cracks and patterns on Sadler’s leather jacket or the polish or dating on the key come through with good precision.  Surface texture and the overall detail of the creatures and gore effects in this film are quite impressive.

Depth:  Solid depth work.  Most of the film is interior.  Background images come in as cleanly and discernible as the focus allows.  Movements are very cinematic and no blur witnessed.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and work surprisingly well in the shadows.  Minimal detail lost in dark corners.  No crushing seen.

Color Reproduction:  Green is a beauty in this transfer.  Its pops out gorgeously.  Other colors are pretty solid and the palette looks rather strong in rich fashion.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and stay that way throughout.  Facial detail like wrinkles, stubble and demon facial texture shine through in close-up and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Some grain, but that’s really it.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: This is a booming 5.1 audio track.  The action gets loud and takes your living room by storm.  Sound effects are well rounded and plenty deep and shrieking.  There is a nice loose feeling between the score, vocals and the sound effects.  This is a terrific 5.1 presentation from Scream Factory.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, demon roars, car crashes and gunshots rock your room and rumble your subwoofer.  Its the highlight of this mix.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The action is well documented in the front channels going back and forth.  Even the rear speakers get some involvement in more than just ambient noise, having some cool action beats of their own at times.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are decent and maybe the weak link in an otherwise stellar mix.  Sometimes they can find themselves a little too low in the 5.1 mix and sort of muffled in spots.

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Demon Knight – Collector’s Edition features reversible cover art featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Ernest Dickerson
  • With Special Effects Tream

Egyptian Theater Q&A Session (HD, 9:46) – This is taken from a 3 day festival celebrating the work of Dick Miller.  This particular day they did a Gremlins 1&2 and Demon Knight triple feature screening.  It focuses on not only Dick Miller questions, but Rick Baker answers some and the director of Demon Knight speaks as well.  It humorously ends on someone asking if a Demon Knight Blu-ray is in the works to which he says he hasn’t heard anything yet.

Under Siege: The Making of Demon Knight (HD, 39:12) – Featuring interviews with Director Ernest Dickerson, Co-producer A.L. Katz, Screenwriters Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, and Mark Bishop, Stars Billy Zane, William Sadler, Brenda Bakke, Charles Fleischer. John Schuck and Dick Miller, Editor Stephen Lovejoy, Special Make-Up Effects Creator Todd Masters, Special Make-Up Effects Artists Scott Coulter and Scott Wheeler, and Demon Performer Walter Phelan.  This is quite in depth and goes over the many iterations of the film, the different plans for the Tales From The Crypt movie, the shoot, the effects and the release.  The most interesting bit was that when the film was originally going to be fashioned as an anthology film, From Dusk Til Dawn was going to be a part of it but a deal couldn’t be struck with Quentin Tarantino.

Still Gallery (HD, 5:40) – Features promotional stills, headshots, posters, magazine inserts, lobby cards and behind the scenes photos.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:01)

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Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight is a really fun action oriented horror film that also has a light touch with some goofy comedy.  It boasts a terrific ensemble cast that gels.  This Blu-ray gives a very good video presentation and a booming 5.1 audio track.  There is a great wealth of knowledge available on the bonus features that has some very cool tid bits and stories from people who still fondly look upon this film.  This is a very good release that should please not only fans, but should pick up some new admirers as well.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

1 Response to “Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Love Demon Knight!