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Awesome: 20.34%
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10 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Vampires (1998)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"John Carpenter's down-and-dirty spaghetti-western/horror movie."
4 stars

'Vampires' isn't another John Carpenter horror film -- it's another John Carpenter western.

Carpenter will be forever identified as the director of Halloween, but, like his idol Howard Hawks, he won't be tied down to any one genre, even within the same movie. Vampires delivers on its title, but it's not really about bloodsuckers; it's about gunslingers, mercenaries, screw-ups and psychos — men who can stare down supernatural horror, blow it away, and pop open a beer. The movie is best understood, and enjoyed, as a classic piece of bad-ass cinema, a remnant of a less touchy-feely age. Bram Stoker, meet Sam Peckinpah.

These vampire hunters are realistically callous, rowdy, and ugly. Led by the scowling Jack Crow (James Woods), they drag vampires out into the sunlight to incinerate them, then celebrate with booze and whores. (They work hard and they play hard.) One night, though, their revels are interrupted by a sort of übervampire — Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), a vicious Master vampire with the long black hair and long black overcoat of a decadent rock star. Valek tears through the motel in a matter of minutes, leaving Jack, his right-hand man Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), and a prostitute named Katrina (Sheryl Lee) to tell the tale.

Jack, it so happens, is being bankrolled by the Vatican; the Church has retained him to slay vampires, for reasons I won't give away. The cardinal (Maximilian Schell) saddles Jack with a young priest (Tim Guinee) to replace the one he just lost, and James Woods' violently impatient clashes with this cringing rookie are among his funniest on film. Woods plays Jack almost as a sequel to his best performance, in Oliver Stone's Salvador; Jack is like Richard Boyle ten years later, recast as a vamp-killer with ambivalent feelings about the Church he grew up in. (Remember Woods' great confession scene in Salvador? Jack Crow's heated reaction to the mere mention of the word "confession" may be something of an in-joke.)

The motley band of Jack, Montoya, Katrina, and the priest drive around the desert, looking for Valek, who may soon convert at least one of Team Crow to Team Valek. The script, credited to Don Jakoby, takes most of the romance out of the pitiless vampires. They're not remotely elegant or complex; if they see you, they butcher you. They have to be cut down like rabid dogs — or like the zombies in a George Romero film. In some ways, Vampires looks and feels different from other Carpenter movies — it's more frenetic, its visuals less studied than usual — but its grimly relentless tone is perfect Carpenter. All the vampires do is kill. All the heroes do is kill vampires. In lesser hands, this could become repetitive and dull; Carpenter plays small, surprising variations throughout, as he does in his score for the film.

If Carpenter's films tell you anything, it's that he loves slobby anti-heroes who go in and get it done: Jack Crow has a long line of ancestors including Snake Plissken, R.J. MacReady, Dr. Sam Loomis, John Nada in They Live, Napoleon in Assault on Precinct 13, going all the way back to the bored astronauts in Dark Star, his first film. Vampires is grungy, disreputable fun — the kind of blood-and-tequila western that can only be made nowadays when disguised as a horror movie.

The film gestures towards a deeper religious meaning, but what it's really about is the showdown between good guys and bad guys — no, make that bad guys and worse guys.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=358&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/02/07 19:05:46
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User Comments

4/10/18 Guru This movie is 20 years old and I still enjoy it. Great horror. On a par with Dusk to Dawn. 5 stars
2/20/17 morris campbell another carpenter dud awful 1 stars
6/20/07 Bitchflaps The cast is fine and the vampires are very cool, but I found myself rooting for Ravek. 3 stars
2/02/07 AJ Muller Carpenter goes west. Woods kicks ass. Audience applauds the return of the true master. 5 stars
9/13/06 Booksworm At least it's better than Ghosts of Mars 4 stars
1/01/06 cody a lousy movie done by a great horror director, with ok plot , ok make up, bad movie 1 stars
8/19/05 ES It had potential (for yet another vampire flick) but comes up short = uh-uh 2 stars
3/13/05 christopher elder excellent vampire film. 5 stars
7/16/04 Harry J Carpenter surprised me with this crap. There's a lot of better vampire flicks out there. 2 stars
3/20/04 john Carpenter may never return to his true form but this is actually pretty good 4 stars
1/26/04 Eric Didn't like James Woods till this movie.Loved the blond too. 4 stars
1/16/04 J The movie could of been better if the fights were longer! ** 1/2 out of 4 3 stars
1/12/04 American Slasher Goddess Good performances by Woods and Griffith, but everything else is pretty bad. 2 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Quite good in a trashy way. Woods elevates this with a great, fun performance. 4 stars
3/05/03 Dina Smith Total macho shit 1 stars
12/30/02 Jack Sommersby Underrated, inventive horror pic. James Woods is outstanding. 4 stars
10/14/02 JesseL Teak. James Woods makes it happen. The sequel sucks. 5 stars
6/18/02 Charles Tatum Gore and nothing more 3 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Just A Bunch Of Bloody, Stupid Fight Scenes and A Few Minor Scares. 2 stars
11/03/01 Jim A little mahogany? A little ebony? A guy split in half with a little finger? 5 stars
10/31/01 Vampire fan duh!! Fucking awesome movie. Better than blade is right! GREAT film 5 stars
8/05/01 E-Funk James Woods kicks ass. The best time with vampires since Lost Boys. 4 stars
7/23/01 kissfan@webtv.net There are all the elements here. Gore,mayhem,humor and a very sexually gratifying scene. 4 stars
7/08/01 Gracy Lionheart Might be worth it to rent on video, but I felt like I wasted my money at the theater. 2 stars
5/03/01 Gracy Lionheart It was boring. Nothing memorable about it. Even Blade was more entertaining. 1 stars
11/02/00 Terrie Smith Love it or hate it; one of those movies than can go either way. 4 stars
4/01/00 malcolm better than "Blade" 4 stars
1/18/00 Add Someone should stick a stake deep into the heart of this crap!! 1 stars
10/13/99 sophia962 Kept me awake...Woods is interesting to watch. 4 stars
10/06/99 Spankasaurus HAHAHA!! I saw this flick on video! LA LA LA...(worth the 3 bucks) 4 stars
9/25/99 Isla Pretty good to me 4 stars
5/23/99 Allie Very realistic and entertaining 4 stars
3/15/99 the_machine Pure and utter shit 1 stars
2/02/99 Mark Reilly What can I say, if you got GREAT gore, who really cares about a plot?? 5 stars
12/28/98 Dan Rowe I thought the lead vampire was great, very "goth"-did you know he once played Rock Hudson? 4 stars
12/25/98 MR HOLLYWOOD!! I cant belive i wasted money on this piece-of-shit!,actors suck,music even worse,lame story 1 stars
12/22/98 CYaniDERuSH Fuckin Awsome baby! 5 stars
12/22/98 Brent Not very good. I felt sorry for James Woods. 2 stars
12/08/98 Shadow Raider Hey Buffy, it's vampire hunting season! Bring out the guns! Bring out the chemical warfare! 5 stars
12/06/98 Mr Showbiz Plenty of tricks and treats, as well as a vicious mean-streak. 3 stars
11/24/98 mike davis Pathetic. Every line fell into 1 of 3 categories: yelling, cussing, yelling and cussing. PU 1 stars
11/21/98 Freyja Moron movie full of moron actors blurting out cheez-whiz lines. Sucked big moose cock. 1 stars
11/20/98 Mike Horror greatness! 5 stars
11/19/98 J Rockin Action 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Mixed reactions from my crew, but I thought Woods kicked ass in a crap film. 3 stars
11/09/98 CaptNish A fresh flick if yah ask me. It's worth the cash to go see it. 4 stars
11/07/98 Pariah Buffy meets The A Team...pure cheez. Bad acting, FX, and score. 2 stars
11/07/98 Negative Creep s'okay 4 stars
11/04/98 lord rashanko what the fuck was johnny boy thinkin? 1 stars
11/03/98 cyanide rush "hey padre tell me something, when you saw this movie did you get a little wood?" 5 stars
11/03/98 Bad Kosh Better than Buffy the Vampire Slut, way awesome with tons of action. Blade could do better 5 stars
11/02/98 The Dude The movie was so fuckin'cool. It's one of my favorites now, it kick motherfuckin' ass bitch 5 stars
11/01/98 16 in. of swingin' meat and a bucket of balls Woods was very convincing. Enjoyed myself thouroughly. Great! 5 stars
10/31/98 Johny Cool film, better than BLADE 4 stars
10/31/98 Miss Stress this has to be the most boring vampire movie i have ever seen. Just give me Lost Boys. 1 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool wasn´t bored for a minute, though it went long, James Woods was super. 5 stars
10/17/98 I'm Orgazmo. It fuckin' rules. Better than Blade could ever be. 5 stars
8/27/98 Mister Whoopee Ultra-violent, horiffic, tres cool. Woods is awesome, a classic Carpenter anti-hero. 5 stars
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  30-Oct-1998 (R)


  10-Dec-1998 (MA)

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