Made on a modest budget, this independent horror film by director Joe Grisaffi actually premiered in 2010. It has recently found new life on the Kings of Horror YouTube channel, as well as with the recent release of a Vetrex videogame based on the film. Dead of Knight has been on my radar for some time and I'm ashamed to say that I only recently watched it. I certainly did myself a discredit as I found it to be very entertaining and well-made.
Written by Joe Grisaffi and Emilio Iasiello, the story follows young Marla Mazzocco (Jerin Julia), a college student whose ancestors possessed an ancient secret. When her friends start being brutally murdered one by one, Marla soon discovers the reason behind the carnage. A disgraced medieval Templar knight, Sir Gasparay (Wayne Stevens) has been inadvertently resurrected and has taken up his age-old vow to an evil queen. His quest is to retrieve the knightly virtues that he had lost by killing those he finds that possess them, leading him to the pure Marla. Little does Sir Gasparay know, Marla is the only one who can stop him due to a family heirloom, passed down for generations, the Amulet of Thorns, which she wears around her neck.
This is definitely fresh territory for a horror film and I for one am glad for this new injection of creativity into the slasher genre. Most slasher films are simple and formulaic, Dead of Knight is more intelligent slasher fare, yet still easy to follow. Don't get me wrong, it is a film where you have to pay attention to the plot but it is presented in such a way that it is still enjoyable and not a chore. Grisaffi deserves credit for finding a way to make a medieval knight in armor a plausible antagonist in a modern horror film.
Dead of Knight
Jerin Julia, Brandon Hearnsberger, Christie Guidry Stryk, Dimitri Kouzas, Dan Braverman,Sara Gaston, Kyle Greer, Anne Quackenbush, Wayne Stevens
Randy's Grade: A
On that note, you can't deny that some of the credit belongs to the talent of Wayne Stevens. Whether he's in plain clothes or in full armored regalia he accomplishes his task in making you feel just what is needed for the scene. With his face shown, you feel empathy for the fallen Templar, his sadness, his stolen dignity, but just as quickly, when he dons his armor, he has returned to the unfeeling monster that must be vanquished. Sir Gasparay is a character in despair and yearns to be allowed his eternal sleep. However, to sleep, he must retrieve the noble traits he lost and offer them up to the evil Queen Sofia, portrayed by Anne Quackenbush.
The lead investigators looking into the murders, Detectives Waters (Sara Gaston) and Sutherland (Dan Braverman) begin to suspect Marla's boyfriend, Jaxson (Brandon Hearnsberger), whose only goal is to keep Marla safe. However, the stakes are raised when Marla disappears. The race is on to find her before the deadly Sir Gasparay.
Overall the acting was first-rate, with believable character interactions and flowing dialogue. Kyle Greer, as Truman, delivered on comedic timing and was always good for infusing a little humor in this otherwise slasher thriller. There were some plot holes that I found myself wondering about but nothing that prevented me from following the film. As we say, I suspended my disbelief and gave in to the director's whims.
Technically speaking, production values were high. The editing was good as was the cinematography; no lapses in focus or framing and there were some nice creative shots. Grisaffi, wearing an additional hat as cinematographer, was up to the task. The sound quality was good and the lighting was well-done. Speaking of the sound, the tracks chosen for the soundtrack are great. The special effects were nice and didn't come off as cheap or homemade; not much of a bloodbath in this film, as compared to some independent horror films which rely on it. This film spent their budget wisely and focused on story and production.
I consider myself a fan of Joe Grisaffi, both his acting and his directing, and I believe he did an excellent job with Dead of Knight. He put together a coherent, intelligent yet easy to follow film that I found to be entertaining. You could definitely tell he got the best out of his cast and crew and that they genuinely enjoyed making this film; it comes across in the finished product.
With over 25,000 views in a little over a month, Dead of Knight is finding itself a wider audience since being released on the Kings of Horror YouTube channel. "I was very excited when Kings of Horror reached out to me showing interest in my work. Now Dead of Knight is instantly available to tens of thousands more people, and possibly millions, who otherwise would not have known the film even existed," remarked Grisaffi. Kings of Horror is the largest horror film channel on YouTube with more than 8 million views per month, offering unlimited viewing of more than 250 horror movies and the selection grows each week.
With the retro-videogame release tie-in, it's seems the popularity of the film will only increase. Grisaffi teamed up with video game programmers Jason Santuci of Gemintronic and Sascha Lubenow of Luchs Soft to develop this video game for the classic systems.
"I grew up with the Atari 2600 and Vectrex," says director Joe Grisaffi. "I am thrilled that programmer Jason Santuci stepped up when I originally posted the idea of making a game based on the film on the AtariAge forums. Jason has been a pleasure to know and work with. When I reached out to Sascha at Luchs Soft regarding the possibility of making a game, he jumped on this one!”
Both the Atari 2600 and Vectrex versions of the game follow the storyline of the movie. You play Sir Gasparay, and after a scene in which Gasparay’s spirit takes over an athlete’s body, you must then seek out and slay victims who represent the chivalric traits that the dark knight has lost. Once you have captured Marla and present her to the evil Queen Sofia, the final battle begins.
The Vectrex version of Dead of Knight is available from the Luchs Soft website at www.luchs-soft The Atari 2600 version of the game will become more widely available later in 2016.
Watch Dead of Knight for free on the Kings of Horror YouTube channel by clicking here, or watch it below.
Viewers can also find Dead of Knight on Amazon Instant Video and on the Independent Network Channel (INC) on Roku, or buy the DVD on Amazon.com.