The seductive allure of the vampire is part and parcel of their D.N.A. (okay, Nosferatu doesn’t count), and when you combine one of the world’s oldest monsters, with “the world’s oldest profession” it can be a lucrative yet deadly mix. In 1996, The Crypt Keeper returned, though not with the anticipated tale he hinted at, but a vampire-based spec script from long ago. Still, he manages to make it work in Bordello of Blood.
Ne’er do well, Caleb, hears wind of an exclusive bordello that’s running out of a funeral home and mysteriously vanishes while trying to become its patron. After his disappearance, his sister Katherine, unable to find help with the police, hires P.I. Rafe Guttman. Her work with faith and morality clashes with the P.I.’s seedier lifestyle, though the duo complements each other’s shortcomings. As he probes deeper, Gutman gets involved in a case chocked full of carnivorous concubines, and cynical clergy, all looking to take a bite out of him.
Those eagerly awaiting the arrival of Dead Easy will be unfortunately disappointed that the script got shelved in-between production. Fears are however quickly allied as Bordello is a fascinating story, both on the page and off. Initially, a spec script, written by famed film-makers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis years before. Bordello serves as a fine replacement film capturing the humour and horror that made the initial series stand out. Especially as the scope of the satire expands to fill a larger screen with the film’s wry look at the rising tide of televangelism, among other aspects. The film has had some elements updated to bear the name of Tales From The Crypt, the mysterious artefact from the first film makes a return. John Kassir also makes a return as the Crypt Keeper, with his good friend the Mummy played by a returning William Sadler.
Dennis Miller’s Guttman is an interesting creation, he’s no Peter Venkman, but his dry wisecracks in front of the supernatural does have some charm. How much of his quips came off the cup I’m not too sure, but for most of the time, they work well. While he has less screen time than Miller, a returning Cory Freidman also inhabits the punk rebel Caleb perfectly clashing with the prim, proper, and pure attitude of Katherine. The queen of all vampires, Lilith, is a fun addition, while a typical character in a film like this, she has a commanding presence here. Certain scenes also reveal the script’s 70s roots, with visual call-backs to the cult exploitation films propping up, offering a visual reminder that some things do not go out of style.
Bordello of Blood contains more than a wink and a nudge to its roots, no pun intended. A comical romp of seductive vampires, ancient legends, and R rated excesses galore. Miller’s character is a fun addition, and more investigations might have made for a fun spin-off, but as an independent study, it still manages to carry on the successful transition tradition of the previous Tales From The Crypt Franchise. Despite being a late addition to the menu, Bordello of Blood might be more than enough to sink your teeth into.
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