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Vampires (1998)

John Carpenters Vampires, Vampire$

Prepare for the Dawn.

Directed by:

John Carpenter

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

Hollywood’s everlasting fascination with nocturnal blood-slurpers is given the John Carpenter treatment in this silly but surprisingly watchable gore-fest.

Deep in the middle of New Mexican nowhere, a stubbly beer-bellied squadron of vampire-slayers use an array of expensive-looking weapons (not including garlic bread, disappointingly) to carry out work assigned to them by the Catholic Church. Having successfully wiped out a fresh batch of the undead, the gang are settling down to a nice quiet night of liquor and hookers when an uber-vamp called Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) turns up to spoil the party. Given the carnage that ensues, and the fact that he doesn’t stop to take his shoes off at the door, it’s not tough to work out why he wasn’t sent an invitation.

So it’s left to a scaled-down group of four – deadpan vigilante Jack (James Woods), tubby hick Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), grunting bite-victim Katrina (Sheryl Lee) and feeble-but-bearded priest Father Adam – to catch Valek before the selfish pointy-toothed git trails muck onto anyone else’s nice clean carpets.

Unintentionally funny in some places and relentlessly violent in others, the film plays more like one of those feature-length episodes of ‘Tales From The Crypt’ than a proper, bona fide movie. None of the characters involved are either likable or particularly well thought-out (Valek makes a crap villain and Father Adam’s reluctance to tell his colleagues everything he knows is never explained), and the direction seems surprisingly clumsy for an old-hand like Carpenter.

On the bright side (which, incidentally, is exactly where you want to be if there’s a vampire nearby) the plot’s just about ridiculous enough to hold the attention. Just don’t expect to be remotely frightened by it.

It's Got: Double-chinned Baldwin brother Daniel sweating more than can possibly be healthy – but still managing to pull. Who said thin was in!?!

It Needs: To add a bit of genuine creepiness to all that bloodshed.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, filmographies and a handful of trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

From Dusk Till Dawn, Underworld

Summary

Effectively a poor man’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. So watch that instead.

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