Bordello of Blood
Reviewed by Steve Crow
Rating: 3.5 Beans
nyone who watches Dennis Miller Live on HBO knows that Bordello is not his favorite movie of all time. In fact, he regularly slams it. Now, I tend to suspect that he's just trying to boost the video rentals here by encouraging people to see just how bad it is. Well, I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. During a slow week I picked it up at the video store at a discount and sat down to take a look at it.
The movie starts off with what you think is a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" parody, with dwarf actor Phil Fondacaro (always a mark of quality!) playing Indiana Jones. They are seeking an ancient corpse, which comes to life and lays waste to Phil's henchmen in the overblown blood-flying manner popularized by Sam Raimi.
Then we cut to the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir), who makes a few gags and trades banter with a mummy played by a heavily made-up William Sadler (from the first movie). Then on with the movie proper.
Caleb Verdoux (Corey Feldman, Lost Boys, in full obnoxious-mode) is the brother of Katherine (Erika Eleniak). He departs his sister's nagging and along with a friend eventually finds himself in a whorehouse (the title's Bordello of Blood) run by a creepy undertaker (Aubrey Morris). One enters the bordello via a coffin shot through a crematorium. Once Caleb arrives, we get plenty of nudity and shortly thereafter he and his friend are finished off by the head madam, Lillith (Angie Everhart).
Now, finally, we get to the main character: Rafe Guttman, portrayed by Dennis Miller as...well, Dennis Miller. He doesn't drop a whole lot of topical obscure jokes, but he's the wisecracking gumshoe. Katherine hires him more out of desperation, and Rafe eventually finds his way to the bordello. Just in case the plot wasn't going off in enough other directions, it turns out that Katherine works for televangelist Reverand Current (Chris Sarandon, Fright Night) who uses laser-display crosses (that's foreshadowing, in case you were wondering...).
In any case, the whole thing eventually ties in with the "Raiders" sequence as we find out that Lillith was the vamp resurrected by Phil the Dwarf at the beginning of the movie, who was working for Reverand Current. Why, we're not quite sure (apparently to sell the cars of their victims, I think...). The two of them control Lillith with a mystical key (the artifact from the first movie, Demon Knight), but Phil eventually destroys the key, freeing Lillith (although she seems pretty free anyway...).
In any case, Current eventually repents his evil ways and joins forces with Rafe to bring down the Bordello compliments of super-squirters filled with holy water which causes the vampires to burst into flames like gas-soaked tissues in a volcano, Caleb shows back up as a vampire and is toasted. Current gets killed. Lillith escapes once or twice, but declines to kill Rafe (he apparently has some special blood, although what or why is never made clear) and instead goes for Katherine at the preacher's glass shrine (described by Rage as "kind of like Superman's dad's place on Krypton") and the aforementioned laser is used to cut out her heart and cut it into pieces.
Rafe and Katherine are united at the end, and there's one final Tales... type twist, and cue the final, somewhat lame Cryptkeeper sequence and the closing credits.
Actually, if you don't take Bordello of Blood too seriously, it's a great B-movie. Certainly it's no classic of the horror genre, but there are a few laughs along the way, and Miller gets to be...well, Miller. It's not a serious role like his parts in The Net or Disclosure, but he seems to be having fun and if you're a fan of his humor, you'll enjoy the flick.
The rest of the cast is forgettable, except for British actor Aubrey Morris, who makes the most of his relatively small part and hams it up in true style.
Bordello is a big let down from the previous Tales... flick, Demon Knight. I suspect that is what gives it such a bad reputation. It lacks both the impressive performance of Billy Zane and the twisted writing style of Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Brimstone). Instead we get the more standard Tales... writers, Katz and Adler. Unlike Demon Knight, which took advantage of its big-screen production values, Bordello really is a half-hour TV episode of the series expanded to fill out more time.
Overall I'd recommend this film if you're a fan of cheap B-movie horror. So few people can do B-movies these days that it's good to see that folks like Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have still got the talent for it.
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