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John Carpenter's Vampires

John Carpenter's Vampires

What He said:

He

Whenever the She is at work and I’m home alone that means two things. One, I get to watch whatever I want. Our tastes overlap quite a bit, but we aren’t the same person. We don’t like everything the other does. She likes period pieces for example. She watches so many PBS movies, miniseries, and shows, that I can’t keep track of them all. Nor do I want to, period pieces bore my like no other genre. The other bonus about her not being him is that pants are optional!

Jack Crow is a vampire hunter and not just any vampire hunter either, but one sanctioned by the Catholic Church! He is one of many “slayers” that helps to rid the world of those pesky blood-suckers. He is the leader of the team.  Jack (James Woods) and his boys are a rough bunch. They curse like normal people have conversations. I curse fairly regularly, but these guys make me blush. It’s actually pretty funny, particularly when Woods’ character does it. They also like to drink…a lot. When not hunting vampires, they spend their time at a local hotel where the sheriff buys them booze and hookers.

John Carpenter's Vampires

After a routine hunt, the guys are doing their normal post-hunt partying, but something is bothering Jack. During the hunt, they didn’t find any “master” vampires. Each nest that they find always has a master, which typically converts local townsfolk into his or her food soldiers until the town is eventually overrun. Jack is really bothered by this.

He doesn’t have to wait too long for an answer though, because during their party they are attacked by a master. And not just any master either, but what they later find out is the first known case of vampirism. Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) is several hundred years old and believed to have some sort of connection to the church. It is believed that he is looking for an ancient church artifact.

Valek wipes out most of Jack’s team, so Jack, his right hand man (Daniel Baldwin), and one of the surviving hookers who was bit by Valek, head to meat Jack’s boss, Cardinal Alba (Maximilian Schell). Cardinal Alba wants Jack to head back to headquarters to recruit a new team. Jack refuses. He says that he and Montoya (Baldwin) plan on using Katrina (the hooker who was bitten) to find Valek. Apparently, when bitten by a master, a vampire develops a mental link to the master. It takes a while to turn, so she gets snippets of visions from Valek, and the guys plan on using that to track down his location. Katrina (Sheryl Lee) is not having a good day. Besides being bitten by a vampire, pretty much ensuring your death when you are in the company of slayers, Jack and Montoya don’t treat he so great. They look at her as a disease.  They know what she is going to turn into and actually can’t stand her, but plan on using her link to Valek. Jack is also assigned a new priest, as the previous one from his group was killed in the attack. Father Guiteau (Tim Guinee) is not field tested. In fact, he only knows what the Church has told him – he’s never actually seen a vampire.  So, this rag-tag group must stop the oldest and most powerful vampire ever known.

John Carpenter's Vampires

 

John Carpenter's Vampires

I’ve made no secret in some of my other reviews that I think John Carpenter has made some absolutely fantastic movies. Halloween, Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, and They Live are some of the most entertaining horror, science fiction, and action films I saw growing up. I say this every time I review a Carpenter movie, but I don’t own nearly enough movies made by the man. I truly enjoy these movies, but only own one of them. That needs to change one day.

Well you can add Vampires to the list above. This movie is extremely entertaining. It’s got all the signature things you love about a classic John Carpenter flick (particularly the 80s ones).

It’s gory, but funny. There are some genuinely good horror elements in this movie, but it’s also hilarious at times, and that doesn’t hurt its credibility as a horror movie either.  It’s definitely not a horror/comedy like say Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. It’s a legit horror flick. It just so happens to have some humor in it too. It’s like a horror version of They Live. The Valek character totally brutalizes Jack’s team when he first means that. At one point, he punches a hole through one of the guy’s chest. It’s graphic as hell. But the stuff that comes out of James Wood’s mouth is absolutely hilarious. He’s rude, crude, and unapologetic, particularly towards his new priest friend. If there is anyone you’d think someone would go easy on it’d be a man of God. But not this guy! Jack Crow slaps Father Guiteau around like he’s his little brother.

John Carpenter's Vampires

Speaking of James Woods, you can tell he is having a blast during this movie. The veteran actor is not really known for action roles. He’s not known for horror either. He was trying something new here and you could tell he enjoyed the role. The things that come out of his mouth are hilarious. The faces he makes as he thrusts a stake into a vampire’s heart is just as funny. I forget exactly what he was saying, but there’s one point where he’s fighting a vampire and he’s actually talking shit to it as he’s staking it in the heart. It’s brilliant and indicative of the kind of work that made Carpenter’s career what it was in the 70s and 80s.

John Carpenter's Vampires

His right hand man, played by Daniel Baldwin, is borderline unlikeable. Jack is brash, but Montoya is a borderline sociopath. The way he treats Katrina is kind of disgusting. She’s (going to be) a vampire. I get it. In a matter of hours she is going to be a killing machine. But the way he treats her is pretty terrible. It really makes you dislike him (he’s still an entertaining character) and sympathize with her. Speaking of her, Sheryl Lee (of Twin Peaks fame) was downright sexy in this movie. She had the look, she had the swagger, and as I mentioned above, she even managed to create a fair amount of sympathy for the character.

Tim Guinee was also good as the uber geeky, by the book, totally out of his element Father Gaiteau. I think they might have said at one point the character is nothing more than a researcher for the church. So when he’s thrust into the field with Jack and Montoya, it makes for some fish out of water moments. The audience can identify with his predicament. Plus, the scenes with him and Woods are pretty amusing.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 8, 2014.