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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New on Video: Dickish Dennis Miller in Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM


As I mentioned when discussing Gravy, comedy and horror are tricky as hell to successfully combine. Gravy got it right, as did the Evil Dead sequels (more on those later), and the original Tales from the Crypt HBO series. But not so much the second Crypt feature film, 1996’s Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood. It’s far from the worst movie ever made — which @midori_1189 on Twitter has authoritatively informed me is Jem and the Holograms, so that settles that! — but it’s also a fiasco where nothing went right behind the camera, and as a result nothing quite works in front of the camera, either. Thankfully, Shout! Factory is releasing it on Blu-ray this week along with a documentary and commentary which get to the bottom of what went wrong. (Spoiler: Dennis Miller.)

In fairness to Miller, producer/screenwriter A.L. Katz and director Gilbert Adler describe the project as being doomed from the start; at the beginning of the making-of doc Tainted Blood, Katz describes the film as “an object lesson in how not to make a movie.” They were saddled with an early student script about a whorehouse full of vampires by Robert Zemeckis as part of a deal that Zemeckis made with Universal Studios to retain his directorial services, and like most early student scripts about a whorehouse full of vampires, it wasn’t very good. (Some years later Zemeckis would co-write one of the best comedy scripts of the 1980s, but that’s another article entirely.) Katz rewrote the Bordello script as best as he could, but it was still a script about a whorehouse full of vampires.

Making things worse was that producer Joel Silver insisted on casting non-actor Dennis Miller in the hero role. Katz and Adler didn’t want non-actor Miller, and non-actor Miller didn’t want to do it, but Silver was in charge. Worse, non-actor Miller demanded $1M for the role, which came out of the film’s already meager budget.

Since he was being paid handsomely to detriment of the rest of the film, did Miller at least do his goddamn job? Not even freakin’ close, and the stories of his assholery in both Tainted Blood and the commentary are hilarious. I would also like to enter into the record that after getting pimp-slapped in the comments by the director of Howling II for interpreting his statement that his dear friend Christopher Lee “didn’t enjoy making the film” to mean that Christopher Lee didn’t enjoy making Howling II, Katz, Adler, Corey Feldman, and Angie Everhart are very clear about what a horrible person Dennis Miller was to work with. This includes his refusal to act like a professional by performing the lines in the script that were required to move the story along, making an already troubled shoot that much worse.

Indeed, Miller wasn’t the only problem with the production with Bordello of Blood, but the above-it-all smarminess of his performance derails every scene he’s in, even scenes which emphasize Angie Everhart’s breasts. (She’s a very attractive woman, and is certainly more engaged with the material than her co-star, but for me, her sexiness is all about her hair. Her coiffures are the best.)

Shout! Factory is also releasing the first Crypt film, Ernest Dickerson’s 1995 Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, on Blu-ray. It’s a better movie on every level, with genuine actors in the lead roles giving it their all, a better script, a sense of playfulness that comes from people wanting to be there, and far less behind-the-scenes drama. It even features the great Dick Miller, who by all accounts is the nicest guy in the world and in spite of his name is not a dick like the other Miller – but as a result of its competence, it also lacks that trainwreck quality of Bordello of Blood.

Choose wisely.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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