Some movies just exude the spirit of the nineties and John Carpenter’s Vampires is one of those movies. It’s defiantly stylish, vastly underrated and full of larger-than-life characters. However, above everything else, this is a fun and refreshing take on a rather stale subgenre. Vampires have been right there, with us, in movie theaters, for almost a century. Nosferatu saw the light of day in 1922 and Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, back in 1931.
From that moment, the subgenre just expanded and expanded. Everything from Blaxploitation movies (Blacula) to soft-core pornography had to have their bloodsucking monsters. But I digress, let’s get back to the movie we’re going to be talking about today. After he finished shooting Escape from L.A., Carpenter was actually thinking of retiring saying that the movies are not just fun anymore. Script for this movie, based on a book written by John Steakley, changed his opinion and he decided to make a western movie wrapped in vampire robes.
The result is an entertaining horror with strong protagonists and interesting concepts. The thing that fascinated me the most was the way the reality in Vampires has been set up. So, these Vampire Killers are just doing their job, like policemen or firemen and the world they live in reflects that realistically.
It’s like we are transported into some alternate universe where these things are normal. When something like this works, it’s relatively hard to notice it but it’s still there nonetheless. I also loved the whole occult angle of the movie. Mostly because it offered something different in a story told a thousand times before.
Jack Crow is one tough son of a bitch. His parents have been killed by vampires and after he was adopted by the Catholic Church, they trained him ruthlessly to do only one thing: hunt and kill vampires. The years have passed and we find Jack now leading his own team of vampire killers. Well organized and skillful, their latest job of killing another vampire nest went without a hitch. However, unbeknownst to them, something was watching them in the dark. Something powerful and evil…
Released one year after From Dusk Till Dawn and the same year as Blade, Vampires did relatively well at the box office, breaking even in USA and banking on the international market. This was the only financially successful Carpenter movie in the nineties. Starring James Woods as Jack Crow, we got a somewhat different image of the iconic badass, especially when compared to John’s golden Kurt standard.
James carried this movie, making us believe every step of the way. Special effects were old-school, practical effects without those fake-ass CGI. Just another element that added to the reality of this world. There’s quite a lot of murder and mayhem, as you probably expected. Finally, Vampires is also a funny movie with witty one-liners and sometimes hilarious dialogue, so be sure not to miss it. And if you’re looking for something similar check out Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: John Steakley, Don Jakoby
Cast: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell, Thomas Rosales Jr.
Fun Facts: The necklace Danial Baldwin’s character Montoya wears has a Nordic rune on it meaning protection.