on April 29, 2004
This movie has vampire fans cut down the middle, but I think this movie will have to stand the test of time before people look back on it and say, "Man, that was actually pretty good." Forget what negative criticism you've heard about this, and take a good look at it. Vampire films have really taken a nosedive in recent years, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe they try to be too hip with the techno era(Queen Of The Damned, Blade), or too romantic(Interview With The Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula) or just too artsy(Nadja, The Addiction). Maybe my head's just too far up you-know-where, but I always grew up with the notion that vampires were nasty evil, brutal mothers-MONSTERS! Monsters like zombies or giant mutant ants, but with more intelligence. I grew up with vampires that actually were badass and scary like Jerry from Fright Night or the gang from Near Dark. Well, John Carpenter gave us the this kind of Vampire film that's been missing for quite some time. It doesn't pretend to be some dark romantic epic, it's a B film. It's tough-as-nails vampire hunters after tough-as-nails vampires. It's got the trademark John Carpenter macheezmo we all love. It goes back to the roots of 80s vampire flicks by passing on the CGI and going for good ol' prosthetics, courtesy of the good guys at KNB FX. There are some good performances here; I love Carpenter for the fact that he didn't choose actors who are flavor of the month, but relied on actors that he felt were the best for the job. The standout here being Thomas Ian Griffith as Valek-The Master Vampire. Griffith(still unappreciated. Could you imagine VanDamme playing Valek?) is still trying to break away from the action flick typecast to do some different roles, and he does a great job. He's one of the best vampires to come across the silver screen in a long time. He's not the wussy, blonde, pretty boy Lestat. He's got the viciousness of a From Dusk Till Dawn vampire, but just enough of the classic goth tinge to satify the Anne Rice fans. Basically, the right mix of ingredients to make the kind of vampire that's actually scary. Like Ghosts Of Mars, this is the kind of film that would have been received better had it come out in the 80s. We've become too accustomed to recent vampire movies that it's easy to blow this off as corny coz it doesn't fit into one of the three vampire movie categories that are so hot right now. Enjoy this for what it is-and it is good.
on April 8, 2004
I'm not big on Vampire movies but I always enjoy a John Carpenter flick. Or so I thought. If I hadn't known this was Carpenter I would have never guessed it by watching it. Usually you can identify one of his films immediately by the cinematography alone. No one fills a widescreen picture frame like Carpenter. I don't think I saw one innovative shot in this whole movie. The music sounded like an tired replay fron the They Live soundtrack, where it worked much better. I didn't think James Woods brought anything to his part and he cannot carry a movie by himself. Baldwin looks like he was too busy eating double-cheeseburgers to care about his supporting role. The burning vampires were cool I guess. I wonder if Carpenter thought to solicit Kurt Russell for the lead in this. Mighta worked better. The thing that bothered me the most was the lack of nice widescreen shots that signature ALL of John Carpenters other films. And another thing, and the transfer on this DVD is absolutely lousy. Very blurry image for a 1998 film with very poor color. Total distraction, as if the distraction of the film itself wasn't enough. Ultimately, very disappointing and not worth owning. Get In the Mouth of Madness for a real Carpenter film....
on April 2, 2004
The movie takes the concept of a vampire hunting team from John Steakley's Vampires. The manner in which it is adapted to the screen is appaling bad. The characters of Crow and Cat are more masculine and assertive. Guns are not used till the very end of the book and then the Character of Felix is the only one to really use guns. He is also blackmailed into taking the position with the team.
The hooker in the movie is a bad play in that the book's character is a debutant which throws on a more interesting twist to the story. I mean hooker vampire is a cliched idea to start. Then the sunlight thing.
I mean give me a break so many people have played on that idea. The original idea was to have vampires controling areas through finacial power and influence once they got to a higher levels in the chain of power. Then they deal with money enough to buy senators.
The preist in the book is more of a kick ass take names type of person and is directly from the vatican but the vatican is not mentioned right away. That way they can keep the level of mystery going.
So for everything there is in the book, the movie fails to delivery and the original release of the movie actually mentioned Steakley's novel but believe the author wanted his name taken off after it show because of how badly they translated into a movie
on March 1, 2004
I recently reviewed this film, the title was "Did Michael Myers Kill Carpenter?", and the review was not very good. but, after watching it a second time, and thinking about it a bit, i realise i was quite wrong.
First, this is not the grandiose vampire action of, say, the Blade movies. this is a B-movie, a dry and dusty piece of low grade cinema that was made for watching at home. and no-one does low grade like John Carpenter.
Don't get me wrong, the acting is less than fantastic, and the inclusion of a Baldwin other than Alec is a dangerous percipice to walk along, but the inclusion of Lord of Straight-to-video Thomas Ian Griffith as the antithesis of James Woods's hero and Woods' super funny pairing with the priest guy whose name i can't remember do raise this out of the coffin and into the "Just above average virgins" area, if not quite the megastore it could have wallowed in.
The action is pretty good (the opening scene is fantastic)and the Mexican setting gives the chance for some nice (if admittedly orange) art direction. plus plenty of cursing from James Woods (i can't stress enough how important he is to the rating this movie is receiving) make it well worth watching.
In short, not the best vampire movie, not the best John Carpenter movie, but the best B-vampire-John-Carpenter-straight-to-video movie around.
PS check out the sequel if you liked this, or Jon Bon Jovi.
on February 22, 2004
Who're you going to call when vampires are harrassing your town? Nope, it's not the Ghostbusters. Why, you need to get in touch with your local anti-vampire commando unit of course! Yup, this is a vampire movie told in a Ramboesque style, with plenty of guns blazing & lots of attitude.
James Woods has never been very high on my list, but he does a decent job as a crusading vampire hunter who is out to settle an old score. The rest of the cast is capable & the end product is pretty well acted for a horror flick.
The movie has everything a vampire movie should: a background on the plot (i.e.: where did the vampires come from?), some sensual moments, a little gratuitous nudity and an obnoxious amount of gore. Pretty much your standard ingredients for vampire flicks!
One note for lovers of "traditional" horror flicks. As of late vampire movies have tended to have more & more guns blazing than the old mysterious vampire movies (such as the classic Frank Langella DRACULA). This movie is no exception. If you're looking for the type of V movie they used to make, this one may not be for you.
While HALLOWEEN will forever be John Carpenter's magnum-opus masterpiece, he's had some other fine horror movies to his credit as well. Complete with the usual freaky music (also courtesy of Carpenter) this ranks as one of them.
John Carpenter proves he hasn't lost his mojo with this darkly intriguing film featuring two of the most frightful creatures on Earth: vampires and one of the Baldwin brothers. I love traditional vampire stories with suave and debonair Dracula types, but sometimes you just want to get down and dirty with the creatures of darkness and bring an edgier type of horror to the banquet. Jack Crow (James Woods) and his crew of modern-day vampire slayers don't mess around, a fact which is made clear in the most vivid of ways in the opening scenes of the film. We join the fun at an old abandoned house somewhere in the Southwest U.S., a location that has been identified as a probable nest of bloodsuckers. The guys load up, move in, and find themselves in a personal war as these vampires tend to subscribe to the old "the best defense is a good offense" strategy. While the gore is not excessive by any means, there's blood enough to somewhat sate the avaricious desires of the horror-loving viewer, and I could have watched vampires being hauled out into the sun to spontaneously combust all day long. Crow is a little bothered by the fact that the "master" he expected to find in the nest was a no-show, but he doesn't let that stop the party the boys throw back at the hotel. Cheap booze and cheap women are the main attractions, and even the team's priest (none other than Julio from Sanford and Son) ties one on. Crow himself is on the verge of a little excitement with a hot little number named Katrina (Sheryl Lee) when the master he was looking for earlier decides to crash the party.
Crow escapes with his right-hand man Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) and Katrina, a vampire in the making. Crow hopes to use the psychic link that will develop between Katrina and her creator in order to pinpoint the powerful vampire's location. A consultation with the Catholic priests overseeing the whole secretive vampire-slaying business provides him with an unwanted new helper in the form of Father Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee) and the knowledge that he is not dealing with just any old vampire - he is dealing with the legendary Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), a renegade priest who became the first recorded vampire in history back in the 1300s. Throw the rules out of the window because this thing is personal now, and Crow will stop at nothing to destroy this most powerful of enemies. An interesting subplot involving Montoya and Katrina makes for a more human link between audience and film, but the deadly battle between the forces of good and evil and the mayhem and destruction it brings remain the real focus of John Carpenter's Vampires throughout. Maximilian Schell makes a wonderful contribution to the film, Sheryl Lee is outstanding in my opinion, and even Daniel Baldwin pulls off an impressive performance. In the end, though, it is Woods and Griffith who steal the show.
John Carpenter's Vampires is a bold and refreshing vision of vampirism in an age when good vampire movies are quite rare. Woods really seems to relish his role as vampire slayer, evoking the type of obsession that was required of his character. How often are you going to see a priest roughed up and slapped around in the interest of good vs. evil? The opening twenty minutes of this movie are just fantastic, yet Carpenter manages to carry most of that same passion and energy throughout the remainder of the film, closing out with an ending that truly satisfies and takes nothing away from what has come before. Frankly, I had only recently heard of this movie, but in my opinion it deserves a lot of attention. It numbers among the best vampire movies I have ever seen.
on March 20, 2003
Jack Crow (James Woods), the leader of a Relentless Group of Mercenary Vampire Slayers. Jack meet his match, a Master Vampire named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) decimates Jack's entire team, expect for Crow's Partner (Daniel Baldwin) and an unlucky Prostitute (Sheryl Lee) are set in Persuit, since the Prostitute has a Psychic Link to Valek. Now Jack, his partner, the prostitute & a young Priest (Tim Guinee) have to fight Valek before he has Omnipotent Power to Walk in the Daylight.
Directed by John Carpenter (Escape from New York, Ghosts of Mars, Memoirs of a Invisible Man) made a Strong Entertaining Horror Action/Thriller. Based on a Novel by John Steakley. This film is quite different from another Vampires Films. Woods gives a Terrific Performance. DVD's has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer (also in Pan & Scan) and an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an entertaining Commentary Track by the Director. One of the highlights of the film is Gary B. Kibbe (In the Mouth of Madness) excellent Cinematography. Screenplay by Don Jakoby (Lifeforce), who also Co-Produced the film. Music by the Director. Panavision. Grade:A-.
on March 4, 2003
After several people I know recommended this movie to me, I decided to get a second-hand copy of the VHS and watch it. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece, but I did look forward to seeing Sheryl Lee again, as I admire her work as an actress and always find her acting top-notch.
Unfortunately her presence in this movie seems purely incidental, and she racks up hardly ten minutes of screen time if memory serves, playing second-fiddle to the totally repulsive main characters who recklessly waltz in to the homes of vampires and proceed to attempt to murder them using underhanded and frankly sickening tactics. In fact, every act of aggression by the vampires in the story appeared to be provoked by the actions of 'Jack Crow'...a tacky assumed name if I've ever heard one. The 'twist' at the end was totally predictable, although the reliance on deus ex machina was another unpleasant surprise, as one of the characters somehow survives a deep open neck wound that should've killed him from loss of blood, and a series of ridiculously unlikely coincidences enables the wholly unsatisfying ending.
Filled with needless profanity, offensive violence, and repulsive and poorly-acted main characters (aside from Sheryl, who did the best she could with the dross she was given), this is a movie to avoid if you love vampire movies, or even movies in general. John Carpenter should've known better before affixing his name to this one. Even the lackluster From Dusk To Dawn did it better, and that's saying something. Don't waste your time and money on this piece of trash.
on February 27, 2003
I had so looked forward to seeing this movie when it came out in the theaters. Having read John Steakley's fantastic book, "Vampires Inc" years ago, this movie adaptation was a big let down. Perhaps comparing the book to the movie is unfair, but if you read the book first, you would be feeling the same way. It was a gut-wrenching, edge of your seat, exciting hunt for the undead. It never let you down and kept you continually tense and nervous.
The film borrows a barely recognizable story line. Yes, there is a character named Jack Crow. Yes, he leads a band of vampire hunters. Yes, the Catholic church sanctions and finances each mission. And yes, there is a master vampire. But that's the only similarites between the book amd movie. It follows about 5 percent of the book, and that's being very generous.
The movie starts with a great opening sequence in a deserted house that the vampire hunters need to clean out. There's lots of blood, violence, gore, and non-stop cursing. Then the movie turns sideways and tries to make it's own path and ends up lost. If you do plan to read the book, I suggest to do it after watching the film. Had I done just that, I wouldn't be so critical.
I would have thought Hollywood had learnt it's mistakes after the way it slaughtered Peter Straub's masterpiece "Ghost Story" (Another must read!). I thought that had to be the worst film adaptation ever. Sorry, but this is a close second. I understand it's not always possible to get everything that's in the book down on film, but surely Hollywood can do better than this.
on January 4, 2003
I liked this movie. I usually hate vampire movies but this one was very good. It was funny and tough and didn't have to resort to sub-From Dusk Til Dawn type mayhem that Blade did as it had a plot also. It's not too gory either. Sure KNB do some great make-up effects but it's not like the gore is the only entertainment of the movie. Blade and FDTD relied on the gore to entertain too often. Carpenter has made a Vampire movie that seems more realistic than that.
This movie is stangely light-hearted for a vampire/horror flick. Don't get me wrong though, it's best that way. There is a lot of cool dialogue too and Daniel Baldwin's performance is one of his best. I love desert set movies and this one gives us some great cinematography and gorgeous scenery. The music is also light-hearted in a way but can also be spooky at time. Carpenter always comes up with great tunes and his guitar riff and 'Roadhouse Blues' approach to the genre gives a whole new feel. Plus James Woods shines in the way that only he can do.
The DVD has a boring commentary (Carpenter has no one to talk to), a trailer and the cover claims it contains a photo gallery also but unless it's an easter egg it ain't there. The picture is in pretty good 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the sound is Dolby 5.1. It'd be cool if Columbia released a Superbit of this movie.