As the most important holiday of the year approaches, the time comes to forget about our families, jobs, and other obligations, and to spend the month challenging ourselves to watch thirty-one horror movies between October 1st and October 31st. I had thirty-one flicks ready to go, but the awesome people of Graveyard Shift Sisters provided an even more awesome list than mine, so that’s what I’m watching this year. The theme is “movies starring/featuring Black women in prominent roles,” and if you want to check a few (or all!) of them out a handy checklist is available here.
And so the challenge began last night, with Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight!
How to watch it:
I’ve seen this movie so many times and it’s always a blast. Billy Zane chews so much scenery he practically eats his way out of your TV screen in the best way possible, but everyone else in this movie is great too. CCH Pounder and Jada Pinkett Smith are particularly awesome, Pounder for both her comedic timing and effortlessly conveying nerves of steel even when unarmed, and Pinkett for making a serious physical commitment to the movie. Pinkett’s Jeryline starts out as a scorned nobody who rises to the occasion more and more as the film goes on. It’s a great role, originally meant to be the hero from the get go when the movie was being written to have earth’s most oppressed and downtrodden inhabitants become the planet’s saviors. But despite starting out on the sidelines with more limited dialogue and screen time, the film and Pinkett Smith create a great arc for Jeryline that has us rooting for her even before her true part in the film’s story becomes clear.
One of the best world building details in all of fiction can be found in Demon Knight: When mysterious agents from beyond arrive on Earth heralding the end of creation, they must first appear in the form of a cowboy and are mildly annoyed by that.
But on top of that, it’s always great to see a supernatural horror movie that’s not afraid to own its premise. Almost the entire movie takes place in a single location, but we get brief flashes to epic past events that have lead up to the film’s happenings. In the process we’re introduced to mystical artifacts known as the Keys and the eternal demonic struggle to possess them all. Throwing all of this into a movie that also features manic cowboy Billy Zane, cool demonic minion creatures, CCH Pounder refusing to take any bullshit from anyone, and a bunch of other great stuff in a middle of nowhere place under siege and you have a great movie. There are other “basically Assault on Precinct 13, but with demons” movies out there, ranging in quality from Prince of Darkness to trash like Legion, but Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight is the most enjoyable movie of this kind ever made.