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Vampires (1998)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Carpenter

Starring:
James Woods/Jack Crow
Daniel Baldwin/Montoya
Sheryl Lee/Katrina
Thomas Ian Griffith/Valek
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Backed by the Vatican and wearing tight ass Jeans, vampire slayer Jack Crow (Woods) is all business. He and his team are efficiently cleaning house in terms of vampire infestations but when the master of all vampires (Griffith) shows up, it gets ugly! Let the carnage begin!
THE LOWDOWN
"Can I ask ya something, Padre? When I was kicking your ass back there...you get a little wood?"— Jack Crowe

This is yet another one of John Carpenter’s babies that got spanked by the critics and the people upon its release. And yes, once again I hold my head in confusion, knock back a few and wonder "why, oh why"? What did people expect? An in-depth look at the workings of the human spirit? It’s a badass vampire flick yo, not "Remains Of The Day"!

Sometimes I find great pleasure in the simplest things. This puppy’s first half hour is all about crazy fight sequences and extreme violence, that’s a point right there. But although I mucho dug the plasma-soaked goodies, what really slapped an earnest smile on my face was one man, a great man at that…his name: Jimmy fuckin' Woods. Don’t let his average size fool ya (I don’t mean his pecker), Woods’ Jack Crow has to be one the toughest on-screen ass kickers that I’ve seen in a while and his no bull attitude had me grinning like a high society hooker getting paid. Who doesn’t want to see Jimmy Woods sporting a slick leather jacket bitch slap a priest and then ask him if he got a hard on out of it? I freaking cracked up and Woods’ shtick is one of the main reasons that I really enjoyed this flick throughout.

Now I’ve heard folks complain about the midsection of this film, saying that it bored them. Personally, although the action does tone down after the first plot point, I still found lots of meat to sink my teeth in. The relationship between Woods and Baldwin brought with it the always-appreciated theme of friendship. The over-stylized images that Carpenter slapped my way (loved the Vamps coming out of the ground bit) also had me foaming. The back and forth between Woods and Guinee (that’s Padre to you) kept me engaged, the witty dialogue/one-liners had me rolling in laughter and the Katrina (Lee) turning subplot was engaging and very well handled. Let me take a moment on that subplot. I have to give props to Carpenter for delivering that angle of the story with class and a penchant towards momentum. To see how easily the "chick turning" business could have been messed up, rent "The Forsaken" (or don’t, actually), since it sports the exact same subplot but delivers it in a mucho clumsy way.

Now I do have some qualms with the flick though. First and foremost, the ending failed to be as exciting as the opening. Don’t get me wrong, it's still enjoyable but I expected more from it. It felt like they ran out of money when they got to it and what should’ve been a graphic vampire slaughter, wound up being a quick montage that didn’t quench my thirst. I also didn’t really care about that whole “cross” thang, would’ve liked more insight into the whole Vatican involvement aspect and thought that the lead Vamp died way too easily.

But when the smoke cleared, "Vampires" wound up going down real well and entertained me big time. John Carpenter’s affinity for the Western genre is definitely apparent here. "Vampires" could easily have worked as a Western with some minor script tune-ups. I like to call this one a Vamp Western. The desert landscapes, the trench coats, the badass attitude and the blazing guns all contributed to that feel. Vampires made my day a better one.”So, Valek, how is your dick working after 600 years”?
GORE
Shot off hand, a stake in the head, dude ripped in half, hand through the chest, cut off heads, stakings and some messy vamp bites.
ACTING
James Woods (Jack Crow) is a delight as the tough-as-nails slayer. He doesn’t fuck around here. Daniel Baldwin (Montoya) is very sympathetic as Crow’s right-hand man. He hits all of the right emotional notes. Sheryl Lee (Katrina) knows a thing or two about playing sexy and taking odd roles (see "Twin Peaks" the movie) and here she tackles the part with class and sensuality. Martial arts artist Thomas Ian Griffith (Valek) brings charisma and menace to the part. He rocks! Maximilian Schell (Cardinal Alba) cashes in that check. Tim Guinee (Father Adam) has that everyday man thang going for him and he works off Woods wonderfully.
T & A
We get a couple of tit shots in a party sequence early on, and Sheryl Lee (who’s no stranger to nudity) shows us her luscious bootie.
DIRECTING
Carpenter gives this one an extra layer of style. The film is filled with slick close ups, beautiful cinematography (loved the sunrises), kool shots and slow motion. He definitely gives this one the “Spaghetti Western” feel.
SOUNDTRACK
The score by John Carpenter and the Texas Toad Lickers is way moody and has a “Western” feel to it.
DVD FEATURES
Distributor: Sony /Columbia

IMAGE: The anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 image was on and off. Although acceptable overall, we get some grain, fuzziness and scratches at times.

SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is adequate and served the film well, especially when it came to the booming score. There’s also a DTS Surround Sound Option.

Being a Superbit edition, there were no EXTRAS on this disk. For those who don’t know, “Superbit” is where they use all of the space on the disc (hence, no extras) to put out the ultimate audio/visual experience. This disc was actually NOT all that ultimate...just fair.
BOTTOM LINE
Once more, my tastes run against the norm here, I really dug "Vampires". The strong acting, the gory goods, the atmospheric visuals, the groovy dialogue and Jimmy Woods kicking all kinds of ass made it all worthwhile for me. Let me leave you with my fav bit of dialogue from the flick: Crow: “Well first of all, they're not romantic. It’s not like they’re a bunch of fags fucking around, seducing everyone in rented formal wear. Forget everything you seen in the movies: crosses don't work; they don't turn into bats, and garlic? You stand there with garlic around you neck, they're gonna take a walk up your estrada chocolata while sucking the blood outta ya. If you wanna kill a vampire, you drive a stake right through his heart; sunlight turns 'em into crispy critters”. Thank you John Carpenter, you da man!
BULL'S EYE
The film was shot in Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and New Mexico, USA.

A sequel to "Vampires" should be hitting the video stores soon. It’s called "Vampires: Los Muertos", it stars Jon Bon Jovi and is directed by Tommy Lee Wallace ("Fright Night 2"). Tim Guniee returns in the sequel.
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+0
4:20PM on 11/06/2008

Carpenter's done better.

Not that I hated vampires, but after a solidly energetic opening sequence, the film lost a lot of momentum. Even the big motel massacre was a disappointment, with Carpenter using way too many dissolves that halted the action dead in its tracks. The climactic showdown was a complete letdown as well.

I like the look of the film and it was occasionally enjoyable, but it just wasn't exciting or thrilling enough.
Not that I hated vampires, but after a solidly energetic opening sequence, the film lost a lot of momentum. Even the big motel massacre was a disappointment, with Carpenter using way too many dissolves that halted the action dead in its tracks. The climactic showdown was a complete letdown as well.

I like the look of the film and it was occasionally enjoyable, but it just wasn't exciting or thrilling enough.
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4:55AM on 07/31/2005

Miss you Carpenter...

I thoroughly enjoyed this flick, despite the absence of vampiric action. Thomas Ian Griffith should have been given more screen time. I have seen that Carpenter may be coming back on the radar... come back soon rather than later, JC.
I thoroughly enjoyed this flick, despite the absence of vampiric action. Thomas Ian Griffith should have been given more screen time. I have seen that Carpenter may be coming back on the radar... come back soon rather than later, JC.
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