Title: John Carpenter’s Vampires
Original Release Date: October 30th, 1998
Studio/Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Largo Entertainment/JVC Entertainment
Genre(s): Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Cast: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell, Tim Guinee, Mark Boone Junior, Gregory Sierra, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Thomas Rosales Jr.
MPAA Rating: R (strong vampire violence/gore, language and sexuality)
Synopsis: A team of vampire hunters, led by the intrepid Jack Crow, must track down the master who seems unstoppable even in broad daylight in John Carpenter’s adaptation of the John Steakley novel.
Bottom Line: When it was released on Halloween weekend of 1998, some consider “John Carpenter’s Vampires” to be a little too uneven to be considered a great vampire movie. Now, we live in a time where most of our vampires are broodingly beautiful, they sparkle in the sunlight, teenage girls (and their mothers) want to be with them and all of their recorded exploits are set to progressive rock music. Even though last year’s criminally underrated “Daybreakers” try to disspell that myth, moviegoers were still swooning over the Twilight-types that were hitting the big screen. Since then, fans of vampire movies have been re-visiting past vampire movies, particularly director Carpenter’s adaptation of the John Steakley novel about a team of vampire hunters who slayed the undead, not for the hell of it but the perks and financial bonuses that came with driving a stake through of the heart of a vampire. But this is a loose adaptation of the book, so the matter of money isn’t brought up, however perks are more along the lines of hedonism. Jack Crow (Woods) knows more about vampires than anybody who has perceptions about them. He leads a team of hunters that travels across the American landscape to track down vampire nests (or hiding places, if you will), finds them and exterminates them, whether it be by stake or dragging them out into the sun. After wiping out a few bloodsuckers in Mexico, Crow and his team celebrate by hanging around a motel, drinking beers and having fun with some party girls but the victorious party atmosphere changes the instant Valek (Griffith) arrives on the scene. This vampire master comes in and decimates almost all of Crow’s team members except for the tough-as-nails Montoya (Baldwin), who escapes with Crow along with prostitute Katrina (Lee) who’s one of Valek’s victims and ends up becoming the psychic link to finding Valek. The church gives Crow an assignment: assemble a new team and destroy the master, they also assign Crow to a new priest (Guinee) to help out with the mission that, if not successful, could mean the end of humankind as we know it. Yes, the film is uneven but it does manage to disspell a few myths about vampires: crosses don’t work, garlic is useless and they’re not the pretty masters of seduction & charm as most films and television shows have made them out to be these days. Woods playing Jack Crow is pretty much James Woods if he was a fearless badass vampire killer and the action sequences are your standard John Carpenter cross-genre action sequences, only the blood and gore quotient is amped up a notch. There’s nothing flashy or emo or Twilight-ish about “Vampires”. What this is a modern-day parable of the eternal battle of good versus evil with a dash of Western sensibilites. After watching this movie, you’ll feel sad that you even watched stuff like “Twilight”. Re-visit “John Carpenter’s Vampires” for a more grounded take on the world of vampires.