John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES
Director John Carpenter is a Master of Horror. Sometimes he fails to deliver but he will always be known as one of the greats of furious genre cinema. He’s brought us a wide range of classics such as Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing just to name a few. Carpenter was actually thinking about quitting directing before making Vampires (1998). He said that it “Stopped Being Fun”. This movie changed his mind and he decided to keep on truckin and that’s pretty damn cool.
Vampires stars James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, and non other than Laura Palmer (Twin Peaks) herself: Sheryl Lee. James Woods tries his hardest to be a BAMF and he doesn’t quite pull off the tough guy act. The role could have been better cast, someone like Michael Biehn would’ve been my pick. Still, James Woods really does give it his all. Too bad his all is just bordering on BA when the character deserves better. While Woods isn’t always believable as a tough guy, the character is still really cool.
Sheryl Lee doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie. She mostly just looks freaked out or possessed and Daniel Baldwin is interchangeable with a number of other actors, so the cast is not the strong point of the movie. The strength is in John Carpenter’s impeccable direction. I will say that the guy who plays the young priest is awesome. His transformation is well done and he is about the only actor that I would not recast.
Vampires has the look, sound, tone, and feel of an 80’s horror film, when it’s actually from 1998. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It resembles the sorely missed lost style of classic horror films from a bygone era. In addition to directing, Carpenter composed the music and it’s perfectly suiting, creating a strong background sound. This film is very similar to From Dusk Till Dawn in that both are vampire tales with a Latin flair and similar locale. They each take inspiration from vampire lore while twisting it around and tweaking it. They also feature exciting action scenes and characters killing vampires with really great gore effects. This is a movie that is proud to be rated R. Blood, swearing, and pretty much anything that can get you that restriction. Vampires wears it’s rating like a badge of honor and jumps at the chance to throw a “motherf*cker” in your face.
Vampires isn’t “scary” in the slightest, but it is a good movie. It knows what it is and just exudes cool. In a world flooded with terrible vampire movies like the Twilight franchise, it’s nice to know that there are still some worth watching that you might not have seen yet. They’re not gothic vampires and they’re not bitchy brooding vampires, they’re hardcore balls to the wall vampires that will tear you apart without pausing for a moment to think about Kristen Stewart.
This is not a slow movie by any means, its 108 minute run time breezes right by. It’s really entertaining without overstaying its welcome. Vampires had two sequels the 2nd of which starred Jon Bon Jovi of all people.
Currently John Carpenter’s Vampires is available to watch for free on Crackle. It’s definitely worth checking out.
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