Saturday, March 8, 2014

#1,300. Vampires (1998)

Directed By: John Carpenter

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee

Tag line: "They've been around for 600 years...and they're very, VERY thirsty"

Trivia: This film was the only movie John Carpenter directed in the '90s that proved to be a box office success

Sanctioned by the Catholic Church, Jack Crow (James Woods) and his team of vampire slayers scour the American Southwest, taking out scores of undead parasites along the way. But as Crow and his second-in-command Tony Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) soon discover, their job is about to get a lot more complicated. Following a successful raid, Crow and his men are celebrating at a remote motel when their party is crashed by Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), a master vampire, who puts the bite on a prostitute named Katrina (Sheryl Lee) before killing most of Crow’s men. While discussing what happened with Cardinal Alba (Maximillian Schell), Crow learns that the centuries-old Valek is believed to be the very first vampire, and thus the most powerful adversary he’s ever come across. What’s more, while tracking the elusive master, Crow and Fr. Guiteau (Tim Guinee), the Catholic Priest assigned to accompany him, make a startling discovery: Valek is trying to get his hands on the Berziers Cross, a religious artifact that would allow him to walk around in the daylight. Realizing how dangerous a vampire immune to the sun would be, Crow attempts to find the Berziers cross before Valek does, setting the stage for a showdown only one of them will survive.

My vampires are savage creatures”, director John Carpenter once said while describing 1998's Vampires. “There isn’t a second of brooding loneliness in their existence. They’re too busy ripping and tearing humans apart”. In the film’s excellent opening scene, where Crow and his crew “clean out” a house full of undead bloodsuckers, we see what Carpenter was talking about. Making their way through the structure’s dark corridors, the team stumbles upon several vampires, shooting each one with an arrow attached to a cord that, once secure, drags the bloodsuckers into the bright sunlight, where they burn up instantly. Of course, it isn’t as simple as all that, mostly because the vampires are vicious, snarling beasts that move quicker than they do. Each and every one is a formidable foe, yet pale in comparison to Valek himself, who can kill a man as easily as if he’s swatting a fly.

James Woods is convincing as the hard-ass hunter with a dark past, and the film’s setting, aided by Carpenter’s outstanding score, gives the movie a distinct western feel (think 30 Days of Night meets Tombstone). All this, combined with vampires that are more monster than human, make John Carpenter’s Vampires the kind of horror flick true fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.

1 comment:

James Robert Smith said...

This was one of those films where I couldn't believe how bad it was. And I'd shake my head to clear the disbelief and look again and...sure was so bad. The only good part was that I got to see Sheryl Lee's ass.

And today I still ask myself: "How could the same guy who made THE THING and STARMAN create something this crappy?!" There is still no answer.