I’d written off Vampires without seeing it. It’s no secret that post They Live Carpenter is spotty, if you want to be polite about it (Cigarette Burns, and hopefully The Ward, excluded). Vampire’s promised to be no exception.
Well, I’m glad I did see it. Vampire’s isn’t great, but it’s not the full born travesty that Ghosts On Mars and Children Of The Damned is either. It’s fun enough. If I had to compare it to one film in Carpenter’s oeuvre, it’d be Prince Of Darkness. It’s a film that tries for some interesting stuff, but has a lot more to offer in potential then in practice. A film that is perhaps half of what it should be. But at least it has a kick ass John Carpenter score to its credit.
James Woods stars as the leader of a crew of Fearless Vampire Killers, hired by the Vatican who ends up on the business end of a very pissed off Original vampire. These being pre Twilight Vampire’s, they enjoy ripping the throats out of people and drinking their still steaming blood, rather then sparkling and serving as abstinence metaphors. In short order Wood’s finds himself on the receiving end of a Vampiric Beat down stick, with an unreliable ally in his Vatican Bosses, and what little remains on his of his old team quickly turning equally unreliable.
In true Carpenter fashion only his righteous badassedness can save him.
The film begins promisingly enough, with a team of vampire hunters methodically taking apart a nest of vamps, in a tense well put together set piece. It’s followed immediately by a full on retaliatory massacre by the head vamp, which features some tremendous pre CGI gore effects.
That’s when the movie just kind of stops.
We get about a half hour of skullduggery and hugger mugger. Followed by Mythology and subplots that are just powerfully uncompelling. Things do pick up a bit at the end. Including a pretty decent set piece in which our remaining vampire hunters attempt to lure the pack out of their stronghold.
James Woods brings the full brunt of his skeevy charm to the role of Jack Crow, vampire hunter extraordinaire. But he’s dragged down by his partner, played by one of the lesser Baldwins, who’s what we refer to as a drag on the ticket. And Sheryl Lee who spends the majority of her time looking utterly befuddled. Together, they participate in one of the least engaging perfunctory romances in recent memory. They stop the film dead whenever they appear onscreen. Which is with unfortunate regularity. Things aren't helped by a villain who is closer to the Big Daddy Martian Zombie end of the spectrum then Lo Pan.
Unfortunately they’re responsible for most of the film’s boring ass middle section. And while things do pick up for a good final set piece, the final part of the finale is one of the most egregious anticlimaxes this side of Desperado.
On the whole Vampires isn’t a disaster, just kind of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong it definitely has its moments. But it’s even more frustrating because of the flashes of brilliance it shows.