Starring Dennis Miller, Angie Everhart, Corey Feldman, Erika Eleniak
Directed by Gilbert Adler
Distributed by Scream Factory
As a television series, “Tales from the Crypt” (1989-1996) could afford to get away with airing a couple of clunker episodes per season. Not that there were many, but with around 13 episodes per season, the instant classics helped balance out those “lesser” stories. As a potential film franchise, however, there was no room for error. The series’ first offering, Demon Knight (1995), did fair business but was far from the commercial hit the studio had no doubt been hoping to achieve. When the second effort, Bordello of Blood (1996), hit cinemas, it was the de facto nail in the coffin.
Hampered by a horrid script and even worse casting, the picture tanked with fans and critics alike, bombing hard at the box office. Any hope for future theatrical “Tales from the Crypt” films went down in flames with it – though as most fans know, there was one more branded feature, Ritual (2002), that went straight-to-video and is considered to be the worst of the trilogy. The reasons why Bordello of Blood is so horrid are almost too numerous to mention, though the compilation of studio pressure, an outdated script, egos, bloated paychecks and miscasting aplenty are among the litany of reasons why this vampire movie literally sucks.
An expedition deep into a hidden cave, led by the diminutive Vincent (Phil Fondacaro), reveals the location of the skeletal body of Lilith (Angie Everhart), the mother of all vampires. To revive her, Vincent combines four separated sections of her heart and stuffs it in her chest cavity. Awakened – and hungry – Lilith gorges on Vincent’s associates but stops short of eating their pint-sized leader when he produces a blood-filled key (the same prop from Demon Knight) that gives him control over her actions. Cut to some time later, and Caleb (Corey Feldman) is about to hit the town for a night of partying with his boys. At the bar, an extremely intense, spaced-out local invites the boys to visit a funeral-home-turned-brothel where he promises they’ll get laid like never before. The boys arrive and are greeted by McCutcheon (Albert Morris), who sends them through a hidden passageway into the brothel down below, where they find a bevy of big-breasted babes waiting. One of them, however, is Lilith – meaning all of them are vamps.
When Caleb fails to return home, his sister/roommate, Catherine (Erika Eleniak), hires a P.I. to track him down. Enter Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller), a wisecracking gumshoe who takes on the case with mild enthusiasm. Tracking down Caleb’s last known whereabouts, he winds up at the bar where the boys were given directions to the whorehouse – and Rafe comes across the same weirdo, who also invites him to the brothel. Denied entry at first, Rafe comes back the next night and promptly works his way inside. He figures out the babes are vampires, though no one wants to believe his story – especially Catherine, who is dismissive of Rafe’s accusations. Her boss, Rev. J.C. Current (Chris Sarandon), also writes off his theory as nonsense. But Rafe goes back to the brothel, bringing the cops and Catherine with him, and although they find nothing out of sorts, a review of the security footage later on reveals to Catherine that Lilith is invisible on film. She now believes Rafe’s claims. The two of them, along with Rev. Current, descend upon the brothel and fight the vampire horde, hoping to learn what happened to Caleb and kill Lilith in the process.
Every problem with this film is outlined quite succinctly in the bonus features, which are far more interesting than the film itself. Each participant lists more than a few reasons why this train went off the rails, but everyone is in agreement on one thing – Dennis Miller is a smug prick with diva tendencies. Why Universal decided to cast a non-actor in a lead role is beyond anyone’s logic. Miller is a political comedy guy, like Bill Maher, and just as not-funny. He’s a smug prick, with a smug prick face and a smug prick attitude and an infinitely punchable face. And here he is, headlining a horror movie and delivering one bad quip after the next. If you told me the screenwriters dug through Miller’s trash and inserted his discarded one-liners into the script, I would have no problem believing it. Not a single one of his lines works, and every time he opens his mouth it only further reinforces the fact he was so very, very wrong for this role.
The only person having any fun here is Corey Feldman, and he was well past his prime by 1996. Angie Everhart, however, was in her prime around this time… but like Miller, she is no actress. The only reason she’s in the film is because producer Joel Silver thought supermodels becoming actresses would be a big thing after making Fair Game (1995) with Cindy Crawford – and those of us who saw that picture know why supermodels becoming actresses did not become a big thing. The best actor award goes to the red-faced, chicken-wing-devouring barfly who sends patrons off to the brothel. That dude is the film’s one saving grace and he only appears for a combined total of about three minutes.
It’s a shame “Tales from the Crypt” couldn’t parlay television success to its theatrical releases. Demon Knight was a strong effort right out of the gate; Bordello of Blood was the exact opposite. If there’s any credit due to this turkey it’s to the FX team, who did a wonderful job of producing vile, gruesome gags. Like Demon Knight, the gore here is full of oozing, pus-filled explosions and dripping with viscous crimson. Unfortunately, that’s just about all the film has going for it. It had been a solid decade since I last saw Bordello of Blood and it was somehow worse than I remembered. Get your Cryptkeeper fix by watching the TV series or Demon Knight, and just lump Bordello of Blood in with Ritual as forgotten trash not worth the time.
The film’s 1.85:1 1080p picture is locked into a dated ‘90s aesthetic. Definition is moderate, with only close-ups revealing truly hi-def details. Red is a predominant hue throughout; all other colors appear reasonably accurate. Film grain is very present, almost too much so at times. This is a definite step up over previous home video versions, even if it is far from being HD eye candy.
Much like Demon Knight, this film’s English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound track is loud and present, with well-balanced dialogue and strong fidelity. Rear speakers are used frequently to fill out the soundfield, especially when the action hits and activity is scattered around the room. An English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track is also included. Subtitles are available in English SDH.
Screenwriter A.L. Katz delivers a scathing audio commentary in which no love is lost. Moderated by Rob G, this track takes a warts-and-all approach to explaining why everything went wrong.
Another “Making-of Featurette” is actually a new piece in disguise, this one being “Tainted Blood: The Making of Tales from the Crypt presents Bordello of Blood” – Right from the get-go, it’s clear nobody is pulling punches here. Everyone who deserves to get put on blast does, including “diva” Dennis Miller, the studio, the studio brass, Bob Zemeckis and more. This piece is far more entertaining and engaging than the film itself.
A video promo, still gallery, and the film’s theatrical trailer are also included.
- NEW Audio Commentary with Co-Writer & Producer A.L. Katz
- NEW Tainted Blood: The Making of “Tales from the Crypt presents Bordello of Blood” – Interviews with Actors Corey Feldman, Angie Everhart and Erika Eleniak, Co-Writer & Co-Producer A.L. Katz, Editor & Second Unit Director Stephen Lovejoy, and Special Effects Creator Todd Masters
- Video Promo
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer