Dir: John Carpenter
Star: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Thomas Ian Griffith, Tim Guinee
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1998
Format: DVD R2

Jack Crow (James Woods) is the leader of one of the Vatican's teams of vampire hunter/crusader's. After what is deemed a successful mission at a remote New Mexican house where 9 vampire goons are "cleansed", Jack and his "Team Crow" celebrate at a nearby motel, surrounded by a bevvy of beautiful and semi-naked women and copious amounts of booze. Jack, feeling a little disconcerted due to his not finding a "master" at the house is surprised when the master vampire crashes the party and slays his team of slayers. During the vampires onslaught and much to his surprise he calls Jack by name just as Jack manages to escape the motel with help from his right hand man, Montoya(Daniel Baldwin) and a girl from the party called Katrina (Sheryl Lee) who was bitten by the vampire before he attacked.

After fleeing the scene of bloody carnage at the motel the remaining two members of Team Crow have to find somewhere to hide and use the Katrina, who will soon have a telepathic link to the master to find the beast and kill him. In the meantime, Jack has discovered that the master that attacked him and his team is none other than the Valek a former priest who was turned into a vampire by the Catholic church as a punishment for heresy hundreds of years before. The oldest, the strongest and the very first vampire, the source of the disease and now the hunter becomes the hunted.

Forget Dracula because this is definately something different. What John Carpenter has done is offered a new twist on the much reproduced and pretty standard vampire movie scenario and it does work remarkably well. Carpenter has taken the superb story by John Steakley on which the film is based and added his own unique touches and fantastic visual artistry, creating in summary a hell of a film from the "Master of Terror". As you would expect with Carpenter the film is well shot and incorporates some gruesome and stunning action against a pictureque and barren landscape. Plainly evident in the film are blatant directorial homages to the works of Sergio Leone with some shots appearing as almost identical to Once Upon a Time in the West not that it is a bad thing. To be honest it adds even more character to John Carpenter's 19th movie. The film also features music performed by Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn who were part of the "Blues Brothers Band" in addition of course to John Carpenter himself.

James Woods heads a superb cast making a very rare appearance as a good guy for a change, he really does seem made for the role and executes a great performance. More at home as the bad guy or a lawyer or something James Woods obviously relished his role and adds some of his own expressive and unique style to the piece whilst continuing to be a compulsive watch. Daniel Baldwin (yes, it's another one of the Baldwins) provides a good supporting role as Montoya, Jack Crow's right hand man and although overshadowed by the works of his brothers he is a fine actor and adds a little more weight to this cast. Thomas Ian Griffith better known for his role in Karate Kid 3 (ha ha ha ha) performs well as Valek the vampire master and has obviously been waiting for a chance to work with Carpenter and a role that he could sink his teeth into (no pun intended) and seems to have shaken most of that wooden actor syndrome that he displayed in Karate Kid 3 and Kull the Conqueror . I should also mention some other fine supporting roles from Sheryl Lee and Tim Guinee who combined with the rest of the cast have good on screen chemistry and add to the entertaining watch that is "John Carpenters Vampires".

There is also a brief but equally good performance by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Showdown in Little Tokyo) as one of "Team Crow" which I just had to mention. For a vampire film I would have to admit that Vampires isn't a particularly scary movie and primarily relies on action with a lavish helping of gore as opposed to the shock / scare factor but it is a John Carpenter film and is unlikely to disappoint even the most die hard of fans.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Widescreen Good quality transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Cool, sounds excellent
Features Cool commentary by John Carpenter
Selected filmographies
Original theatrical trailer
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Verdict Not a bad disc at all, the picture and sound quality is excellent but I think that it could have had a little more included on it seeing as an uncut version of the film is about 5 minutes longer than this 103 minute version.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home