I had heard such bad things about John Carpenter’s Vampires that I didn’t even see it when it was released theatrically in 1998. In fact, it was only yesterday that I saw it for the very first time. What’s 25 years to see a film though?!
Is it a bad movie by Carpenter’s standards or, indeed, by anyone’s standards? Neither. In fact, it’s a pretty solid movie. Whoever was calling it an unmitigated disaster back when it was released was way off beam.
A gang led by James Woods hunts vampires. The gang comes to the attention of the most powerful vampire Jan Valek who is trying to gain access to a centuries-old crucifix that would make him even more powerful.
I love the fact that Valek decimates most of Wood’s gang very early on in the film. I also loved the character arcs and dialogue between Daniel Baldwin’s Tony Montoya and Sheryl Lee’s Katrina who was bitten during the confrontation in which most of the gang was killed. And the special effects have aged very well indeed.
There are sequences that feel like they are more suited to a straight-to-video movie, but this was probably due to budget restrictions rather than Carpenter.
Vampires is a million miles away from Carpenter’s recognised masterpieces such as Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing and The Fog. But maybe that’s the problem. When a filmmaker who has made films that are recognised as pioneering examples of a genre makes a film that doesn’t meet the high standards of their previous work then the critics and ‘fans’ will take sadistic glee in falsely reporting that a film is an utter disaster rather than a pretty good film. That’s a shame. But time has been very kind to Vampires indeed.
A comic book type caper in which a posse hunts down vampires for a living.
This is at the lower end of John Carpenter’s filmography. It feels more intent with slick visuals and trying to come across as ‘cool’ than being a thought provoking piece of cinema with any kind of substance. We get nods to the Western genre with the posse. We even get a reference to The Searchers. That’s the deepest and most thought provoking thing in the whole film.
The only people this film is of interest to are the nerdier depths of the horror/sci-fi demographic.
In fact, this feels more like a TV movie than a proper film. The only innovation within this flick is that it’s ahead of it’s time in predicting the dearth of similar fare made to go straight to cable. As a matter of fact I saw this on the Horror Channel. I’m glad it found it’s rightful home.
Not the worst film I’ve ever seen but light years away from Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Someone’s Watching Me…
An intelligent, original horror film is as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays. Hollywood seems content on remaking, rehashing and plundering the past glories of the genre with predictably mediocre and overexplained results.
Let The Right One In is one of those rare gems however. Set in snow laden 80s Sweden this is the story of a bullied child who befriends a young vampire. And then the sparks (and blood) fly.
Brilliant written, acted and directed- this film is never less than stunning. Its not often that a film lives up to its hype (The Babadook is an example. Horror fans were so hungry for a great horror film that they called it a classic. Its very good but not a classic) but this does. Its power lies in properly developed characters, silences and the audiences intelligence not being underestimated.