Jessica S. (jess83) from CHARLESTON, WV Reviewed on 3/19/2012...
Even though there are better vampire movies & westerns out there...this is a classic for anyone who is a fan of either genre. It contains memorable lines and is a great addition to the vampire films that have a cult like following. Definately a must see!
Decent Vampire Flick, but Lacks Some Bite
CreepyT | Colorado, United States | 07/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jack Crow (James Woods) and his band of renegade wannabe Van Helsings are modern-day vampire hunters. Together they find and kill the world?s bloodsuckers, and are supported by the church in doing so. One day, seemingly like any other, they set out to rid the world of yet another ?nest.? Just like true heroes they kill all vampires present. However, they note that it is quite odd that there seemed to be no master present in this particular group of fiends. Brushing that thought aside, the group heads to a local motel to party in celebration of the day?s victory.
Their party is cut short when the master makes his presence known by killing all present at the party with the exception of Jack Crow and his partner Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), as well as one random prostitute. This master vampire bites the prostitute and then leaves her with the two remaining vampire hunters. Since she, as she gradually turns into a creature of the night, will have a telepathic link to the one who bit her, Crow keeps her around to lead him to this nasty nighttime fiend. When the church is questioned regarding this particular vampire, Crow discovers that there is more to this vamp than meets the eye. With a newly acquired church representative in tow, Crow and Montoya set out to kill the bloodsucker.
Though this is not the best of Carpenter?s work, he can really do no wrong in my book. His score, though highly cliched, is memorable. The script can be ?dangerously cheesy? at times, but that is, in fact, part of the point. The religious undertones are intriguing as well. The characters are all well cast, and the acting is great considering the less-than-stellar script and plot they had to go with. It?s interesting to see the slightly different take vampire lore. However, the plot centers around the hunters, particularly Jack Crow, thus placing the vampires themselves in the background and effectively giving them very little depth (ok, non-existent depth with the exception of Valek, the head vampire).
Nonetheless, this film is extremely worthy of a rental and should not be over-looked by fans of the vampire genre. The opening scene immediately sucks you in and leaves you wanting to trail along for the ride. I would recommend buying this only if you are a die-hard Carpenter fan like myself, as there are indeed better movies of his out there (try Prince of Darkness for one) and better vampire genre films as well."
Great performances, atmosphere overcome an uneven script.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Vampires is one of my all time favorite movies, but to be fair, I could not give it five stars. However, I think anyone who likes horror, vampire movies or spaghetti Westerns MUST see this film at least once.Vampires has almost everything it needs to be a truly great horror flick -- and it is good enough that I've been obsessing over owning the video ever since it left the theaters. It has great performances -- James Woods, of course, can always make me cringe, laugh or melt with startling ease, and it looks like he had a lot of fun with his role as obsessed vampire slayer Jack Crow. Supporting cast was solid, direction was crisp and snappy, the camera work was wonderful, costuming and props were cool (love the slayers' tools and Valek's coat!), and Carpenter's score suits what's going on onscreen perfectly. Ironically, two of the best performances in the flick -- Thomas Ian Griffith as Valek, a genuinely scary and sensual vampire badguy, and Sheryl Lee as Katrina, a nascent vampire being used by the slayers to track Valek down -- had the least to work with where the script is concerned. Neither were given enough lines, but managed to do more with expression, tone and body language to make their characters believable than many people could have done with ten times that amount of dialog and screen time. Griffith especially was given short shrift in this department, but still manages to terrify and enthrall.Vampires is also daring. Jack Crow (many of whose lines Woods improvised, to great effect) is absolutely uncompromising -- tough, flawed, mean, hot-tempered, and nearly as vicious as his quarry. He's the kind of person who will literally do whatever it takes to get the job done, and that's hard to look at at times. And no, he's not a nice guy. He's not PC (thank GOD!), which apparently irritated a lot of movie critics when Vampires came out. In fact, Jack Crow is a real bastard. He's also the only kind of person who would actually have the guts, and the bloodthirst, and the near suicidal singlemindedness, to actually go and hunt vampires. He's not here to charm us or even spare our feelings; he's here to save our butts. He's unnervingly fun to watch. So, too, is his archnemesis, Jan Valek, who is right up there among my top ten Favorite Movie Badguys. Valek grabs the insipid, "vampires as lonely, romantic figures bemoaning their lost humanity and constantly falling in love with mortals they can never be with" image that has infected the vampire mythos of late and rips the living $^%$%^$@# out of it. He's a cold, scheming, vicious, arrogant, merciless, occasionally sadistic killer to whom humans are either tools, or food. He doesn't give interviews. He doesn't romance women who bear a resemblance to his lost love. He doesn't go clubbing or get embroiled in human politics or keep human 'pets'/servants. He is every inch the intelligent, cunning predator, completely alienated from human kind, and is undeniably a threat. He's also disturbingly alluring, which in a strange way just makes him even more frightening. And, like Crow, he doesn't do things halfway. Piss him off, he'll seduce your woman, tear all your friends apart and chase you down no matter how fast you run or how far you go. The movie illustrates this with a gory directness which is both disturbing and refreshing.Ok, so that's what Vampires has going for it. Here's what it is lacking: real studio backing and funding. I don't know who dropped the ball on this one, but Vampires definitely needed a bigger budget. It needed to be about half an hour longer for character development's sake, the effects needed cleaning up in a few places, and the scriptwriter needed to be taken to a deserted area and had a gun held to his head til he revised out the cornier lines ("Unstoppable unless we stop him"?!? "I'll snap your neck like a twig"?!? Come ON!) and put in about three or four more revisions to even out the general story pacing, fix some of the dialog and GIVE KAT AND VALEK MORE LINES AND SCREEN TIME! :).Sony/Largo/whoever also screwed up where promotion is concerned. There was almost NO advertising of Vampires once the movie actually came out, even though it was #1 nationwide its first week in theaters. The planned second soundtrack (with Marilyn Manson, etc) was to my knowledge never released, nor was there a 'book of the film', a 'making of' or any posters, etc. created besides the movie poster version you see on the front of the video box. Hello?!? Vampires made it to #1 for that week pretty much on its own merits. With some real support from its studio and distributor it could have done a lot better and also been a better movie.Just my $0.02."
"Time to kill some vampires. You with us, Padre?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York), Vampires (1998) stars James Woods (The Onion Field, Videodrome, Any Given Sunday)...Kurt Russell must have had a prior engagement...as Jack Crow, vampire hunter extraordinaire and master of the colorful invective. Also appearing is one of the lesser Baldwin brothers, Daniel, to be exact ("Homicide: Life on the Street", Mulholland Falls), who had an interesting turn last year on VH1's celebrity reality show "Celebrity Fit Club" possibly...scratch that...definitely indicating ongoing substance abuse issues, Thomas Ian Griffith (Behind Enemy Lines, xXx), Sheryl Lee ("Twin Peaks", "One Tree Hill"), Tim Guinee (Blade), whom I best remember from his role on the television show "Law and Order" as an infinitely creepy, manipulative killer who defends himself at trial (it was a 2001 episode titled "Hubris"), and Maximilian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg, The Black Hole), godfather to actress Angelina Jolie.
As the film, set in the American southwest, begins, we see Jack Crow and his Roman-Catholic ordained and funded crew of mercenaries arriving at a dilapidated, isolated farmhouse they believe to contain a nest of vampires (and they're right). After cleaning house the crew of misfits celebrates with a drunken whoopee party in a nearby seedy motel, only to get slaughtered as a really powerful vampire (master of the nest they most recently destroyed), donning a velour overcoat, shows up effectively spoiling the festivities (nothing kills a party like having your melon torn off). Jack and another of his team, one named Montoya (Baldwin), manage to escape, taking along Katrina (Lee), a prostitute at the party who has since been bitten, as she's now Jack's only link to the one who decimated his team. Eventually Jack discovers, through his church connections, that the vampire that attacked him is one bad mofo, a six hundred year old European blood fiend named Jan Valek (Griffith), and has come to the new world in search of an religious artifact that when used in a ritual, will allow him to become even more powerful that he already is...(hint, he'd no longer have to use SPF 1000 during the daytime). As Jack, Montoya, Katrina, and a priest named Father Adam (Guinee), the last a new addition as the old padre didn't survive the events at the motel, track Valek across the Southwest, seems Valek's been a busy little imp calling forth some of his brethren masters to not only assist him in locating the religious artifact mentioned earlier, but to be a part of the ceremony that will give him what he utmost desires. Jack and his motley eventually do catch up to Valek in some podunk town only to discover they've walked into the middle of vampire central, and the only way out is through Valek and his thirsty, bitey minions...
While I did enjoy this film, it's certainly not among Carpenter's best or most memorable. Even so, a half-ashed effort from Carpenter is generally better and more entertaining than a full on effort from any number of directors currently schlepping out features these days (Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars may be the exception). Woods is fun to watch, as his trademark intense, semi-psychotic, flippant, profanity-spewing manner, seen in any number of previous features, is definitely present here (he always seems to be set at `eleven'). He does portray the typical Carpenter anti-hero well, but I can't help but wonder how much different the film would have been had Carpenter had Kurt Russell, who Carpenter's used in a number of films, in the lead instead of Woods, as Russell presents a generally more readily identifiable (and likable) character than Woods in a role like this (can you picture James Woods starring in Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China?). As far as the others, they did all right, but no one really stood out over another. I've never been a big fan of any of the Baldwins (they're all showboating, pretty boy, prima donnas in my opinion), so having Daniel here (the least of the bunch) really wasn't a positive aspect for me. As far as Valek, played by Thomas Ian Griffith, he certainly was a menace, but the character seemed to lack any personality traits that differentiated him from any number of vampires I've already seen in other films. Something else...at one point in the film Wood's character lays it out for Father Adam, in terms of what they're up against with the vampires...in doing so he jabs the effeminate portrayals presented in such films as Interview with a Vampire, in a roundabout way, but honestly, the vampire depicted here doesn't seem to be a fountain of manliness, but really a European dandy with a taste for hemoglobin. As far as the story, there are some interesting twists and turns, all punctuated by Woods and his gift for profanity laden gab, along with quite a bit of blood soaked violence. I particularly liked the fiery effects used when the vampires where exposed to sunlight (seemed the more powerful the vampire, the more explosive the effect). The converted armored car/battle wagon used by Jack and his crew was kind of cool, as was some of their sophisticated weaponry (when I say `sophisticated', I mean a flashlight built into a fancy crossbow or such). There's plenty of action and things move along well, strung together with some original scoring by Carpenter himself (Carpenter does a lot of his own music, which tends to fit with the material well, but can become repetitive over time). While this isn't the best of modern vampire films I've seen (I've always been partial to Near Dark), it's entertaining and worth a look, especially if you're a fan of Carpenter and/or Woods.
There seems to be a few DVD releases of this film floating around, but the one I own is the Superbit version. What's this Superbit business, you ask? Well, it involves how the material is compressed and transferred to the DVD (there's an insert that gives more details), providing what is supposed to be high-end picture, which is good, right? Well yes, but if you dig on special features, then it might not be so good as the material (both in terms of the audio and video) that makes up the film requires usage of a lot more space on the disc, effectively eliminating any room for extras (I guess adding a second DVD with just extra features isn't a viable option). As a result, the picture, presented in widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic, looks very clean and sharp, and the audio, available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, comes through well, but there are no extras, other than subtitles available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. I'm thinking this Superbit technology may end up being a moot point with the rapid introduction of high definition, but I'm no techno wiz...all in all three and a half stars for the film, plus an extra half for the DVD, for a total of four stars.
By the way, there was a puesdo sequel put out titled Vampires: Los Muertos (2002), with Carpenter and his wife Sandy King listed as executive producers, written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Fright Night Part 2), that stars Jon Bon Jovi, and incorporates elements from this story, if you're interested. I haven't seen it, but it's out there...
One last point...at the beginning, I don't understand why Jack and his crew bothered searching the vacant house for vampires, risking their necks...why not just douse it with gas, burn it down and be done with it? Because it wouldn't have been as fun, I suppose... "
Vampires is the best.
Inspector Gadget | On the trail of Doctor Claw | 01/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Ladies & gentlemen & vampires, Let's get ready to rumble!!!
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 01/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."