Let’s be edgy.
I remember seeing Vampires when it first came out and being surprisingly bored with the film. However, I remember nothing of the story minus a couple fragmented scenes. The whole thing is like on of those dreams where you’re building a sculpture of Twinkies for the Cow God. Odd, yes, memorable, or purposeful, no.
We follow Jack Crow (James Woods) as he leads his team of vampire hunters whom he does not seem to care for as they hunt the undead. You see, Crow is meant to be a traditional Carpenter badass protagonist like Kurt Russel can play with ease. The problem is that Woods simply doesn’t have the screen presence for this sort of action flick. He wasn’t successful in 1998 and watching this in 2022 where the only people Woods seems to be tough on are trans teenagers… well, it just feels a bit stupid at this point.
I try to avoid bringing in the actor’s personal crap, outside of when they commit crimes or are accused of them, but Woods celebrates his position as bully and blacklisted actor. I do wonder if he had a harder time getting roles due to his political opinions (Mel Gibson seems to be doing just fine) or because he seems like he might be a jerk to coworkers. Woods hasn’t been accused of a crime, to my knowledge anyway, but lavishes in his position as a tortured genius who is silenced by mean old Hollywood.
Anyway, let’s talk about the movie. Carpenter is known for being one of the finest horror directors, ever. He deserves this accolade in every sense of the word. However, this is one of his misfires.
Jack Crow leads his team of misfits to clear a vampire next. There’s a ton of rules for vampire hunting that are listed whenever it is a convenient time to break them. Our hunters might be the worst vampire hunters ever put to film. They panic and struggle with the first two. The film then cuts to other seven getting roasted in the sun to save us from watching them bumble.
Likewise, our vampires seem rather dumb as they just charge out to be shot, stabbed, and dragged into the sun. They miss the master in the lair, who comes that night to kill the entire team minus Crow and Daniel Baldwin (I think it is funnier to just to call him by his real name). We get a third character, Katrina (Sheryl Lee), a prostitute who is bit by Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). They spare her to use her to track the master.
Women in this story are only allowed to be prostitutes it seems. The late 90s sexism is alive and well, but this one goes to go a step further as Katrina is referred to simply as the whore and a piece of shit to be used.
Anyway, one thing that always irked me about this movie is why bother introducing a half dozen vampire hunters to have them slaughtered in the opening act. Obviously, this is meant to raise the narrative stakes, but it doesn’t. It just makes the hunters look moronic and I didn’t have any of the characters names down in my mind. The exercise is pointless, and we end up with an extremely bloated running times where we watch Crow bury his friends and burn down the hotel.
This movie wants to be so damn edgy that it becomes completely laughable. Leather jackets and sunglasses don’t make for badass characters. It is weird to see a Carpenter film with so many completely forgettable characters and moments. Just about everyone was miscast here and no one is believable in their part.
It ends up that Valek is the original vampire and is looking for some secret artifact that will allow him to walk in sunlight. Now, it is up to Crow to stop him and blah blah blah. The pacing of this movie is completely atrocious. The drama doesn’t truly start until more than the halfway point. Before then, we’re busy with awkward world building and tough-guy montages. It all leads to the inevitable and predictable showdown we’ve all seen before.
The sad thing is that this film could have been fun. It is like they intentionally sucked any sense of joy or humor out of the entire enterprise deliberately. This should (and could have) been a campy exercise in schlocky action and horror. I don’t know what on earth they were thinking with making it try to be always so damned serious. The few attempts at humor present here are homophobic even by 90s standards.
This film is an absolute misfire. I’m not sure who it was made for. It is odd to me Netflix chose to bring this one back from the dead to disappoint a new generation of film goers.