John Carpenter's Vampires

on October 30, 1998 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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After the vapid sequel "Escape From L.A.," John Carpenter returns to form with the brutally violent, bloody and profane "Vampires." In a perfect bit of casting, James Woods is Jack Crow, the leader of a team of vampire slayers hired by the Catholic Church. As the film opens, his unit is making short work of a cadre of vampires hidden in an abandoned New Mexico building. But the crew doesn't find their master and he returns to take revenge, wiping out the whole team except for Crow, one of his men (Daniel Baldwin) and a hooker (Sheryl Lee) who, unbeknownst to the men, has been bitten by the ancient vampire and is slowly turning into one of the undead.
   "Vampires" is a tough-minded movie that doesn't, as Crow aptly puts it, "romanticize the bloodsuckers." They're basically vicious animals and are treated--and killed--as such. Woods has the time of his life doing that in his often hilarious performance as Crow, a nasty man who doesn't even hesitate to punch out the young priest (Tim Guinee) assigned to work with him. The talented Lee is underused, though, and Baldwin's performance is dull.
   And while Carpenter is great at mixing toungue-in-cheek humor and scares in equal measure, he doesn't show much interest in the background to the story. Many questions are left unanswered and even the film's gutsy and smart ideas, such as the Catholic Church being responsible for inadvertently creating the first vampire, are never utilized as well as they could be. The movie's lots of fun but it's not a classic of the genre. Starring James Woods, Daniel Baldwin and Sheryl Lee. Directed by John Carpenter. Written by Don Jakoby. Produced by Sandy King. A Columbia release. Horror. Rated R for strong vampire violence and gore, language and sexuality. Running time: 101 min
Tags: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Director John Carpenter, Writer Don Jakoby, Producer Sandy King, Columbia, Horror, vampires, violent, Jack Crow, Catholic Church
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