Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

February 25, 2016

John Carpenter's Vampires (1998) Movie Review

I saw this years ago. And if memory serves, it’s just terrible. I don’t know if it was the directing or the writing or some amalgamation of all aspects of putting a film together but the resources (aka actors) were completely wasted. 

Let’s see if it still sucks, no pun intended.

Based on the novel by John Steakly, John Carpenter’s Vampires is the story about Jack Crow, a very angry man whose parents were killed by vampires when he was but a wee lad. The Catholic church took him in and raised him to be a vampire slayer, which is a win win for both parties - Jack gets to channel his angsty teenage years into productive use and the church gets someone to help rid the world of evil.

After Jack’s crew is slaughtered by a Master vampire, Cardinal Alba sends Jack on a new mission: to find the Black Cross, an ancient religious relic that was, technically, responsible for the creation of vampires (oops, our bad). Valek, this latest Master, was the subject of a reverse exorcism back in the 1300s that went horribly wrong. Though the ritual was never completed, Valek became the first vampire. If he gets his hands on this Black Cross, he’ll be able to complete the ritual that will allow him and all vampires to walk in the light. 

And that would just be awful because only sunlight and a steak through the heart can kill them.

Complicating things, or perhaps helping them out, is a freshly bitten hooker, Katrina. Her short lived telepathic link to the Master will help Jack and his Number Two, Anthony, track Valek down and hopefully stop him before he can get his hands on the cross. Unfortunately, Valek KNEW Jack would track his movements this way because he actually needs Jack for a very specific purpose.

Here we see a drove of Douche Bags in their natural habitat.

You’ll just have to watch and find out what that purpose is, if Jack succeeds in stopping Valek, and the oh so shocking turn of events that puts all their lives in jeopardy.

Yeah, this is just as bad as I remember.

I haven’t read the original novel so I can’t compare it to the film. I like the idea of the band of slayers going around ridding the world of vampires. It’s a bit trite that they’re lead by Jack, whose parents were killed by vampires so he has the whole revenge motive going on. And the group originally starts off like they're special forces or something but it becomes glaringly obvious early on that they aren’t as organized or tough or smart as we’re made to believe. 

I mean, they know a Master wouldn’t leave a nest all alone (of which these guys just decimated) but hey, let’s celebrate anyway with a night of drinking and debauchery that would make Nero blush. What could go wrong?

There are a few times where we get the old ‘info dump’. Instead of showing us what’s going on, one or more characters just talk it out: the telepathic link, Jack’s upbringing, the Black Cross, Valek’s beginnings, etc. Very lazy.

I don't always act in crappy films. But when I do, John Carpenter directs them.

A few eye rolling moments: the slayers stay at the Sun God Motel. Really? Jack walks around in sunglasses most of the time, even indoors, and that is supposed to make him look like a hard ass or something. Even when the Master bites the hooker, he goes for her inner thigh so it looks like he’s sucking on a few other things. I know vampirism is basically a metaphor for sexuality but that’s a little bit TOO on the nose, you know what I mean?

Actually, I kinda liked that part.

I did like the idea that the slayers keep a priest in the group at all times. And, anyone who knows me will see this as no surprise, I loved Valek. He was a great vampire. The scene were he and seven other master vamps rise up out of the ground one night is the best part in the movie. 

That’s kind of pathetic, now that I’m thinking about it.

Otherwise, this is just a terrible film. Don’t get me wrong. I loved most of the actors in this. James Woods is brilliant in everything else I’ve seen him in. But for some reason, Carpenter just couldn’t direct the actors in any way that made their characters believable or even likable (except Valek - but that has a lot to do with me being in love with vampires).

I can only assume John Carpenter’s name precedes the title because the author didn’t want anyone to think his novel was this shitty.

1 Hatchet out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment