Vampi the Vegetarian Vampire's
movie review
On a scale of V1-V8 (V8 being the best.)
 
This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter
 
"Vampires sucks... Let the ripping begin!" - Vampi
Vampi gives Vampires a "V31/2"
(Save the $7 at the box office and pay the $1.50 to rent it instead.)
 
 
This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter
 
PLOT SUMMARY:
 
"The battle that has made myths, destroyed lives, and lasted for over 700 years...ends now. Meet Team Crow, an  elite group of highly trained killers. Led by Jack Crow, they will risk everything to battle the most ruthless killing machines of our time - VAMPIRES. Across country, and an ocean, Jack and his team follow the Master Vampire's bloody trail toward a terrifying climax that could either save the world or end it. As the war rages on, it is becoming hard to tell
who is the hunter and who is the prey."
 
CAST
   JAMES WOODS, DANIEL BALDWIN,
  SHERYL LEE, THOMAS IAN GRIFFITH,
   MAXIMILIAN SCHELL, TIM GUINEE,
GREGORY SIERRA
 
COLUMBIA PICTURES
 
DIRECTED BY
JOHN CARPENTER
 
SCREENPLAY BY
DON JAKOBY
 
PRODUCED BY
SANDY KING
 
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
GARY B. KIBBE, A.S.C.
 
This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter
 
PREAMBLE:
 

I thought, "What greater thing could you find to do on a Halloween Day, to place you in the mood for the ghouls and goblins that come out at night, than to go see a Vampire movie? Well... I can think of a WHOLE lot of other things when the movie is "John Carpenter's Vampires." Man, I REALLY wanted to be scared. I REALLY wanted to give it a chance. I LOVE vampire movies... even bad ones! Unfortunately, Johnny and his cast just phoned it in on this one.
 

The formula for "B" movies was followed to the letter: Babes, Boobies, Blow ups (explosions), Boring, Bodies, Blood, Brains, Burnings, Bondage, and Beatings. Did we mention Boring? Vampires steals from every classic horror film out there, including  the flashlight on the shotgun and, even, a Lady in Lavender! Hmmm... why does that sound familiar?
 

THE GOOD:
 

Having said that, KNB came through in spades with great prosthetics, like the vertically split body that falls away, the master vampire (Valek's) face appliance, the full body burns and the cool weapon props. The FX quality seemed to take a stumble when the prosthetic neck bite on Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) looked more like a dime store gag in the final scenes than the fine handicraft of KNB Effects. Guess it was a slow day in the shop. Too bad. There were some really great crane shots, though, and kudos for the Dolby Digital sound and killer locations in Las Vegas, Cerrillos and the Bonanza Creek Movies set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
 
 

THE BAD:
 

CLICK HERE FOR THE THEME SONG:  http://www.johncarpenter.com/Audio/slayerst.ram
The only thing that was more routine than the repetitive 16-note theme song throughout, is the boring plot line that could best be described as "Dracula meets Commando," with a little Dusk 'Til Dawn and Tombstone added.  It resulted in huge gaping holes in the story, a serious lack of scare factor, and gratuitous predictable violent scenes to include kicking a priest, killing another one, beating one scream queen and slashing several others. Don't even go there with the "violent drunken Indian" character.
 

Example: Take the whole methodology of the vampire/ghoul killings. The concept is to shoot a wooden arrow into the demon's heart and, with a line attached, drag it kicking and screaming to burn to death in the sunlight - followed by decapitation.  Prior to that, there's the scenes where the "Crow Team" is screaming, "KILL IT! KILL IT!" as a stake - resembling a chair leg - is thrust deep into the very place where the narrow arrow shaft is shot next - followed by dragging, burning and decapping of the ghoul. What's wrong with this picture? If a "staking" can't off `em with a 3" diameter chair leg, how can the arrow be then lodged through the gaping whole securely enough for a winch to drag it out? AND, if EITHER the sun OR the wooden stakes/arrows can kill the demon, WHY do both? If staking and burning are the chosen methods of dispatching the dervishes then why, also, waste precious time (and film stock) pumping them with the buckshot and bullets? Ratings... that's why. It looks "cool" to have guns blazing in scenes and bodies exploding throughout the story. Me thinks, however, that the "coolness" of an action film was confused with "spackle" to fill the gaping holes in Vampires' plot.
 

THE PERPLEXING:
 

As a "fashion victim" myself... I have to ask... How in the WORLD does one crawl out of a dank, dirty ol' hole in the ground looking like walking dirtballs and in the next scene look like adds from Vogue and GQ? Hmmm... have to give JC a buzz for a consult!
 

THE UGLY:
 

When you watch a film, you hope to be endeared to, a least, ONE of the characters! Even if it's the bad guy or a sidekick. The ONLY character that even began to evoke a sense of humanity was "offed" in the first ten minutes of the film!  They could have done much more with veteran actor, Gregory Sierra, as the priest. As I watched, I failed to experience a single tear jerk (although there was plenty of opportunities for them), or sense of loss, or hopelessness, or empathy. This can be blamed on, again, a lack of direction in the story line and vacuous dialogue between characters. It's difficult to believe that ANY of these characters presented a stretch for the actors portraying them. We're expected to feel the development of the deepening relationship between Katraina (Sheryl Lee) and Montoya (Baldwin) as demonstrated by his coming to defend her honor when Jack Crow (James Woods) physically and verbally berates her as a vampire prostitute. This might be a little more believable where it not for the preceding scene in which Montoya, himself, has beaten Katrina, stripped her, and bound her face down to the bed, followed by knocking her up side the head when she bites him. There's no chemistry between the couple as he gets in her face yelling at the top of his lungs that she has "to be QUIET."  Sometimes, less is more. The scene could have been played much more naturally by closing in on her and intensely whispering the line through his gritted teeth, rather than trying to knock hers out.
 

Crow comes across consistently as just a big jerk as opposed to the best friend of Montoya and battled wearied leader of his crew. As a result, when (what should be) meaningful scenes come down between them, the intensity of the moment is lost as Crow warns Montoya, "I will hunt you down and I will kill you."  Any military war veteran will tell you, there should be a greater sense of loss when condemning a best friend and comrade, with whom he has shared so much in life, death and battle, to such a sure and tragic fate. In the end, Montoya winds up coming across as more of a "weepy" vampire than an adversary or grieving friend.
 

Valek (played by Thomas Ian Griffith) as the "First Vampire" and the quest for the "black cross" to be able to walk in the daylight were, at least, creative takes on the legacy.  The end was befitting to the "master vampire."  We were also presented with a "cardinal twist" with the involvement of, and ultimate betrayal by, the Catholic diocese.  For the most part, though, many of the scenes were simply a lame attempt at gratuitous shock value leaving the viewer shell-shocked  rather than  spellbound through images like shooting one priest's brains out (Gregory Sierra), kicking another (Tim Guinee), beating and binding one prostitute (Sheryl Lee), and decapitating another.

 

There are a few memorable one-liners... very few:
 

"Pulse monkey fashion victim." (James Woods)
 

"Let me ask you something. It's been 600 years - how's the dick working?" (James Woods)
 

"So, Father... level with me. Killing those vampires gave you a chubby, didn't it?" (James Woods)
"Chubby. Mahogany. Teak." (Tim Guinee)
 

EPITAPH:
 

The one thing I always say about a horror film, whether I like it or not, is "At least it got made and more of our people got work." But, coming from the acclaimed Mr. Carpenter, with a $20 million dollar budget and all the Hollywood hype that preceded the release, one just expects more. Would I pay $7 to go and see it again? No. Would I rent it for $1.50? Yes... after all it IS a vampire film!

- Vampi
 
 
 
LINKS:
John Carpenter's Vampires site: http://www.johncarpenter.com/
 
Marc Bright's Vampires page: http://circuits.cf.ac.uk/~spemsb/carp/vampires/
 
Sony's official Vampires page: http://www.spe.sony.com/movies/vampires/
 
Author of the Vampires novel, John Steakley:  http://members.aol.com/Alpern/steakley.htm
 
Internet Movie Database:  http://us.imdb.com/M/title-exact?Vampire%24+(1998)
 
 
This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter
 
 
 
 
This image totally stolen from Vampires 1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter
 
Vampires ©1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter. All rights reserved.
All images on this page ©1998 Storm King Productions and John Carpenter.
All reviews and text on this page are ©1998 by Gigi Porter for the sole purpose of reviewing.
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