Anthony's Film Review
John Carpenter's Vampires (1998)
The performance of James Woods and the directing of John Carpenter make this action horror flick an entertaining bloodfest...
Vampires, directed by John Carpenter, works because of three things. One, the blood and gore shamelessly presented on screen. Two, the plot that provides a purpose for the blood and gore. And three, the performance of the main star that makes the story more interesting to follow. Without any of these elements, you wouldn't have a good action horror movie. No plot or character means no point in the bloody violence (and, of course, no bloody violence means no horror action movie). So if you love this kind of movie and you want a good kind, you'll certainly find it with John Carpenter's Vampires.
The first scene of the movie provides a good preview of the bloodiness one can expect for the rest of the movie. James Woods is a vampire hunter named Jack Crow who leads a team of vampire hunters, including Daniel Baldwin as Anthony Montoya. They all enter a house in rural New Mexico that seems to be empty at first. It is not long before a few vicious bloodthirsty vampires come out of hiding. But the vampire hunters are quicker. They repeatedly shoot, stab, and maim their undead adversaries. Then, while the vampires with superhuman strength are weakened from being stabbed in the heart, the hunters' Jeep drags them out of the house. The sunlight causes the vampires to ignite, explode, and burn into charred corpses.
Now, if the movie were to just have this type of scene over and over again, it'll be boring. Thankfully, the next scene injects a plot. It takes place at a motel where the vampire hunters are partying in a motel with prostitutes. Just as they're having fun, an ancient vampire named Jan Valek, played by Thomas Ian Griffith, enters and kills everyone he gets close to. Unfortunately, there are only three survivors: Crow, Montoya, and a prostitute named Katrina, played by Sheryl Lee. There is also a twist here, in that Katrina has been bitten by Valek, and time is running out before she fully transforms into a vampire.
From there, the story involves destroying more vampires, learning about Valek's past origin and current scheme, and figuring out a way to defeat him and his vampire minions. This is a good time to talk about James Woods as Crow. This actor plays one hell of a strong tough-talking guy. He is the kind of person who kills vampires without any hesitation whatsoever, and when he isn't hunting vampires, he is swearing a whole lot in his speech. But that's not to say he's unlikable. On the contrary, I wouldn't mind hanging out with him if I find that vampires are out to get me.
With those three elements in place, John Carpenter's Vampires is quite an entertaining movie. It's an exciting and engrossing guilty pleasure, something that I imagine fans of action horror would enjoy. James Woods brings life to his character and the plot, and John Carpenter directs the whole thing in a way that holds together. While it's not an extraordinary Hollywood production that transcends the horror genre or offer much new material, it's not a stale movie either. Let's also remember that the only purpose of this kind of movie is to lose oneself in bloody action. Thankfully, this vampire flick allows us to do just that.
For more information about John Carpenter's Vampires, visit the Internet Movie Database.