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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.64%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average: 13.64%
Pretty Crappy40.91%
Sucks: 31.82%

2 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Vampires: Los Muertos
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Pathetic Vampire Flick that Really Bites"
1 stars

Despite a passable beginning, this ill-advised sequel to John Carpenter's underrated "Vampires" quickly collapses due to anemic acting, shoddy writing, and non-descript directing.

I was one of the few admirers of John Carpenter's 1998 Vampires, which was a bit uneven but also imaginative and thoroughly entertaining -- and largely misunderstood. It wasn't engineered as a horror pic, but as a spaghetti-Western actioner with elements of the supernatural; it boasted interesting three-dimensional characters who made sense; and it played out successfully as an engaging black comedy with some rather thrilling moments. While I would have welcomed a sequel with the same filmmaker and cast, the direct-to-video Vampires: Los Muertos, which possesses neither, goes over about as well as a lump of coal at Christmas time. Tommy Lee Wallace is the writer/director this time around, and it wasn't terribly surprising to see his name on the credits in light of his involvement with the sequel to Carpenter's landmark Halloween, titled Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (which is quite enjoyable on its own terms considering it hasn't any relation whatsoever to its prequels). If you're looking for a tasty scare-fest, however, look elsewhere, because Los Muertos (if you'll pardon me) bites.

In keeping with Carpenter's atypical casting of James Woods as the hero, Wallace has attempted a similar thing by casting singer/sometimes-actor Bon Jon Jovi, and it's a gamble that doesn't pay off. Bon Jovi has an easygoing, appealing swagger and an ease with dialogue, but he hasn't much charisma or depth to sustain a starring role. (When he was cannily used in the supporting ranks in the little-seen The Leading Man, the result was both cagey and very enjoyable.) As Derek Bliss, a free-lance vampire hunter who gets paid by the kill, Bon Jovi (even though he boasts impressive muscle pecs) isn't even remotely convincing, and, at times, so unfocused and pallid that he might as well be signaling someone off-camera to furnish his lines to him off of a cue card. His hundred-dollar layered hairstyle may be enticing, but he himself isn't; then again, Bon Jovi isn't really given anything substantial to play -- or play off of. He's picking up an easy paycheck in an easy-to-please sequel nobody was exactly asking for in the first place, so it's not too surprising that the audience doesn't really give a hoot what happens after twenty minutes has elapsed from the running time.

Given, while Carpenter's film was decidedly different from John Steakley's wonderful source novel (which was wickedly satirical and reminiscent of Elmore Leonard's Stick in its skewering of American materialism) it at least retained the author's giddy sense of fun. Wallace, though, hasn't suitably reimagined the material for a valid cinematic purpose -- he's concerned only with keeping within a genre rather than expounding upon it. So we get an eye-rolling series of ho-hum contrivances like: a gung-ho black man who's rendered as a token almost from the get-go; a feisty Mexican youngster who's all cojones; a pale-skinned, outspoken heroine -- all of whom partake in stupid actions as required by an overwritten screenplay that fastens upon far too many subplots without suitably developing any of them. If you never know where the story is headed, that's because Wallace doesn't seem to, either; you can get a headache trying to keep track of the developments because there doesn't seem to be any organic reasoning connecting any of them to anything in particular.

Los Muertos tries to be exciting, and in the beginning it's reasonably scary, but after its novelty value has worn off (and Wallace is actually forced to build the story through cohesive incidents) it crawls forth and peters out every ten minutes or so. Without an agreeable hero to guide us through the story, a tantalizing lead villain could have offset this liability. Again, Wallace botches matters in his casting of the non-descript Arly Jover as the master vampire, who exudes about as much malice as a melting vanilla sundae. She's intended to function as the ringleader of the vamps (as Thomas Ian Griffith did so vivdly in Vampires) but simply comes off as an artistic miscalculation (flip-flopping the gender of the villain doesn't automatically equate it into a bravado stroke of invention). Los Muertos lacks both atmosphere and force. Oh, there are some decent-enough interludes -- like when Bliss uses a temperature-reading scope device to get a positive reading on the below-averege body-temp of a vampire in a diner -- but there are way too pregnant pauses in between these occasional flourishes to sustain suspense. Wallace opted to tell the story in a straightforward, non-abstract visual and narrative style, which the creatively devoid material simply can't sustain; the increasing down-time the audience has in between attention-getting "moments" allows too much in the way of ample opportunity to sense the desperation and fatal lack of motivation behind the story.

I was bored cuckoo through most of Los Muertos, and there's a simple, predominating reason behind this: the film should have never been made. It's been conjured up for the screen solely to elicit rental dollars from gullibles like me who partake in filmgoing as a means to a possible satisfying end. You can't help but think that some of the imagination inherent in Vampires has transferred itself unto this sequel, only to end up slapping yourself upside the face for being so foolish as to think such a naive thing. The film has been lazily written, lamely directed, and acted with the panache of a company of listless actors who come off as if they're riding out the low point of an all-night Nyquil binge. I never thought I'd be recommending the disastrous 1979 Frank Langella/Laurence Olivier Dracula or 2001's The Forsaken, but compared to the even-more-disastrous Los Muertos, they look like quite the unheralded masterpieces by comparison.

Check out Carpenter's original "Vampires" instead. Please.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6956&reviewer=327
originally posted: 02/02/03 14:15:20
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User Comments

8/16/10 Victor i loved UNA the way she put her fingers in his mouth 2 pull out his tounge & bit it 5 stars
5/18/06 Josh Standlee I was very impressed! James Woods should come back for the next one. 5 stars
5/05/06 Gina Hedtke The ONLY thing worth seeing here is Jon Bon Jovi himself 2 stars
11/15/04 tatum JBJ is good, Wallace's direction fine, but script sucks 3 stars
8/20/04 J More of the same with the first one, but some nice kills! 3 stars
6/17/04 scotty boy so bad it's worth a look 2 stars
1/12/04 American Slasher Goddess Still bad, but slightly better then first one. 2 stars
3/27/03 Alabama Worley Not as awful as I thought it'd be, much less misogynist than the 1st film. 3 stars
3/12/03 natalie I think that it was rather good movie- I really like Jon Bon Jovi's play- he was great 5 stars
2/18/03 Stan This film really sucks!!!! 1 stars
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  24-Sep-2002 (R)



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