Movie Review: John Carpenter’s Vampires

For some reason, John Carpenter has been really hit or miss for me lately. Mostly miss. Not quite sure why, but the movies he does I love, I really love (Thing, They Live) and the ones that are a miss, really miss (Escape from NY, Escape from LA). But I do love me some Vampires, so let’s see how John Carpenter’s Vampires works out, shall we?

LONG opening credits sequence, as we get to see James Woods looking all bad-ass. Music is really starting to get on my nerves. Carpenter normally has a really good score, but good lord this is grating. Daniel Baldwin is also in the group, so we know who the sidekick is, since no one else is even given a nod to the camera. They are about to attack a Vampire nest. James Woods is a bit of a prick to his men, and they keep mentioning rules. I know this is way before, but I keep getting Zombieland flashbacks as they do this.

vampires-carpenters-groupSo it’s a pretty ingenious plan. The men bust into the place, stake the Vampire somewhere and Daniel Baldwin is outside in a 4×4 with a winch on it, they pull the Creature outside, where it bursts into flames and the standby priest gives last rites. They then collect the skulls to get a body count. Seriously, this is an amazing idea. Soon, they have cleaned out the building, but not found the leader. They ride off into the sunset to go celebrate, and the drinking n whoring ensues. Soon, the Head Vampire pops out of the ground, having been covered in literally millimeters of dirt to protect him sunlight. He walks to the motel, and bites the Hot-ish chick that is making the moves on James Woods, who, being a badass, isn’t having it. This being Carpenter, he bites her on the inner thigh.

Next the Vampire Squad is attacked, and it’s actually a pretty impressive fight for the mid-80s, but it loses me when James Woods hears the commotion, and starts shooting. Again, we have Vampire Hunters who are just shooting. Drac just stands there and takes it. Arms wide just enjoying it and doing nothing. Then he attacks random people. Woods, holding his gun SIDEWAYS starts shooting and dives on a dresser but hurts himself on the crossbow. When Baldwin stands beside him, they both just shoot at Drac and run out the room leaving the crossbow behind (Woods again holding the gun sideways). They grab the hot blonde even though Baldwin knows she’s been bitten, jump in the van and take off. Drac jumps in the back, and Baldwin shoots him in the forehead with a pistol and this blows him off the truck. So all that gunfire and nothing, but this knocks him back? When Drac gets up, there is no mark on his head. So now James Woods and the tier 3 Baldwin brother have to go after the Master Vampire before the Hot Chick turns.

So how is John Carpenter’s Vampires?

In a world where Vampire have a sparkle in the daylight, or have become moody or generic boy-band sex objects, it’s a bit refreshing to see one where they have become just horrible killers, almost like in 30 Days of Night. There is no cheering for the bad guys, no point of view from that side. Just a menace that needs to be wiped out. James Woods is a bit over the top, and he does tend to step over the line a bit at times but not to a serious determent of the movie. Daniel Baldwin is there, I suppose, but doesn’t add or subtract from the narrative.

vampires-carpenters-crossThe movie is a good bit of fun, and the action scenes have their working boots on, but the plot tends to drag the movie down. It’s not built, like in Blade, but we tend to spend a good bit of time on a cross that doesn’t mean anything, trying to find a way for the Head Vampire to stick around during the day, yada yada yada. I would have much preferred just a major battle in a spot where the Vampire wasn’t in any danger of getting hit by the Sun. It’s a bit dense and I just don’t care after a time, it does figure into the end, but not so much as it was needed.

Finally, as with all Carpenter, there is some dubassery. I’m a Vampire Hunter. I know all there is to know about these Vampires. Why am I shooting it with Bullets? Why don’t I have crossbows or just stakes everywhere? Why can’t I just stake them instead of dragging them outside (or using that as a last resort) and after attacking the nest, but not finding the Master, do I not have a GUARD outside whist I am a-whoring?

Does this hurt the movie? Not really, but it does tend to ding the rewatchability of the movie. I’ll go a 5 here, It’s not a horrible movie, but yet another John Carpenter movie that was so damn close to being excellent but just has too many dings to get too much higher.

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