John Carpenter's Vampires (1998)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 24, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 107 minutes
The Movie
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Tim Guinee, Maximillian Schell
Screenplay: Don Jakoby
Country: USA
Originally a vehicle for Dolph Lungren to be directed by Russel Mulcahey, who instead made Silent Trigger, John Carpenter's Vampires is another example of the fine direction of Carpenter, and the ultra cool exterior of James Woods. A match made in Heaven…or Hell. The production of this film faced a severe problem as just before filming began, 2/3 of the budget was cut but this did not stop it from receiving 1999 Saturn Awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films USA for Best Actor (James Woods), Best Score ( John Carpenter) and Best Make up.

Based on a novel by John Steakley, Vampires utilizes much of his original dialogue, but hardly any of his plot. The film removes all the romanticism of the vampire and keeps it to a few rules; drinks blood, cannot go into the sun, and stakes through the heart kill them. Limiting the enemy's abilities allows the story to move along at a great rate, giving opportunities for heaps of bloody and gory mayhem. As usual, Carpenter uses long lingering shots, which border on being akin to Sergio Leone, which in some scenes shows the arid desert of Western America in great detail.

Jack Crow (James Woods) leader of vampire hunting group known as Team Crow are put on assignment from the Vatican to destroy every vampire they can find. After attacking and killing all the vampires in a 'nest', Team Crow are decimated by a master vampire known as Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) who is looking for an artifact known to increase the power of the vampire race. If he finds this icon, in the form of a large black cross, Valek and his brethren will be able to walk the earth in daylight, and none shall be able to stop them. It is left up to Crow, his surviving ally Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), newly assigned priest Father Guiteau (Tim Guinee) and tag along hooker Katrina (Sheryl Lee) to make sure that this never happens.

Sporting some great over the top effects, John Carpenter's Vampires is good old fashion dumb fun. The gang of vampire hunters in this film is the perfect antithesis to the traveling vampires of Near Dark; actually, if you are a fan of Near Dark, this film is in a similar vein. Taking elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and overdosing it on testosterone and booze makes John Carpenter's Vampires an arse kickin', drunken redneck vampire huntin' pile o' excitement, the way they do it in Texas.

Heaps of fun reduced to table scraps by Roadshow, who again deliver a pathetic bare bones Region 4 DVD release.
Unfortunately, this is only a 4:3 aspect ratio transfer, but it is at least a clean one.
It is clear and crisp, but pack up your surround sound, John Carpenter's Vampires is a disappointing Dolby 2.0.
Extra Features
There are no special features on this disc.
The Verdict
Roadshow continues its contempt of the horror fan with yet another modern horror classic treated with disdain. For Region 4 Carpenter enthusiasts only!
Movie Score
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