Bordello of Blood might be my teenage dream, because I remember watching this movie quite a few times when it was on cable TV. Though when it aired on television, it was super-edited and none of the boobs from the bordello were on display, so there was always a tease of maybe seeing something even though you knew you wouldn’t. The movie itself hasn’t held up as well to scrutiny after watching it later in life; I thought I remember it being more substantial and better-paced, but that’s just the error of nostalgia getting in the way of things again.
Dennis Miller stars as Rafe, a down-and-out private dick looking for work in a police station, no less. He stumbles upon a young woman named Katherine (Erika Eleniak) who is trying to find her missing brother after he went out for a night of drinking and never came back. He decides to help this woman, probably more because of the shape of her legs than any vested interest he has in it, so he heads to the last place the kids were seen – a funeral home that apparently doubles as a bordello. Inside, he finds a couple of stiffs and lots of bodacious babes, and he even notices that most of these dudes are probably going to be killed off in some way and then sent to the cemetery to be buried with a dead person who has a service at the funeral home. No wonder those caskets are so heavy.
It turns out that a woman named Lilith (Angie Everhart), who Bordello of Blood tries to make into the same Lilith of the Bible, has come back from the dead thanks to the same key from Demon Knight. With her heart stitched back together, she lives again to eat other people’s hearts and to turn them into vampires that prep horny little boys before she eats them.
If you’re a fan of Miller, you’ll love all of the sarcastic jibes that he throws out in Bordello of Blood. He’s got some witty one-liners, and he’s the main reason why the film is so much fun. But that’s also due to a couple of the secondary characters as well, namely Jenkins (Kim Kondrashoff), who advises everyone who hangs out at the bar that he knows where they can get the best “gayaw damn pussy.” Chris Sarandon and Corey Feldman, expert vampire celebrities, also show up in some memorable scenes – Sarandon plays the over-anxious reverend Current, preaching the gospel and enunciating the vowel sounds of all of his words, and Feldman is simply himself in a Lost Boys phase.
But Everheart is quite terrible as Lilith – she couldn’t act her way out of a casket, and it’s often painful to hear her go at one-liners like there’s a frog in her throat, attempting to nail a sultry monotone and totally failing. She’s just not very good at the part, and it’s sort of strange that the filmmakers wanted to cast her in a starring role rather than one of the other girls.
The plot is also pretty bare bones. One minute the characters are trying to piece together how a funeral home and murders mix, then they’re suddenly in on the vampire charade and head to the rescue sporting water guns filled with holy water. How did they know this would work, and what made them think it was a good idea? The whole plot tends to linger in its first hour, unsure of whether to focus on the religious overtones or if the film should just get on with the story, and it leaves Bordello of Blood in a somewhat tedious stalemate of trying to do both at the same time.
Still, there’s a lot to appreciate here, like the subtle jabs of humor that Miller throws out and the ridiculous amount of explosions and gore on display in the last few minutes of the film. That, and, you know, lots and lots of boobs thanks to nearly every female extra going topless. This is a B-movie, after all, and Tales from the Crypt never misses an opportunity to show some mammaries.
Bordello of Blood hasn’t held up as well over time, and it’s a film that’s often full of bad acting and a terribly cliched plot. Despite the hang-ups, though, a solid performance from Dennis Miller means anyone looking for some snarky humor will fall in love with his character. That right there is the reason I continue to come back to the film again and again. Angie Everhart, though, sends shivers down my spine because of her terrible acting. It’s at least a one-time watch, but it doesn’t have enough heart to suck in many fans.