Story: Uh, read the title. Any questions?
Scares: Not many. A few bits of surprise shocks here and there, when vamps show up. But otherwise It’s just a thrill ride with fangs.
Splat Factor: Not exactly cranked to 11, but definitely fun. Tons of carnage in glorous color…but mostly red. LOVE the vampire death/incineration FX.
Closing Scene “Shocker”?: No; they’re too busy getting back to the business at hand to have any “gotcha” moments.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: First of a trilogy (along with Vampires: Los Muertos and Vampires: The Turning.)
Trick or Treat?: It’ll do pig. It’ll do. (All apologies to Babe.) Vampires was first called John Carpenter’s Vampires — in fact, that’s the title you’ll see in the film’s opening sequence — but after so-so reviews I’m guessing Carpenter agreed to ditch his name. Plus, that gives a better flow to the trilogy, since he’s nowhere near the sequels (smart move.) The blood and carnage is awesome, and the “vampire western” motif gets me to sit up and take notice. Vamp westerns can either be fantastic (Near Dark, From Dusk Til Dawn) or an unholy embarrassment (Priest, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula). This straddles the line; it’s got an interesting story of master vamp Valek trying to find a relic that will allow him to walk in the sun, but the acting, over-the-top staging (think tons of campy posing with crossbows — see movie poster) and film score gets on the nerves double-quick.
From vamp slaughter to human slaughter, the first 30 minutes of this film are definitely high octane blood-soaked fun. What plops this film into meh territory is the little things nobody took the time with. A love story side-plot is unbelievable and seems whipped up out of nowhere. The climax of the film goes from darkest night to bright noonday sun…and is supposed to be taking place at the beginning of the dawn. Fail. Plus, the Master and his fellow masters (the Master-ettes) all dress in head-to-toe black, as if there’s a dress code they need to follow of their House Mother is gonna be pissed.
Twin Peaks’ Sheryl Lee gives a terrific performance as
Mina Katrina, the hooker that gets bit and is used as a Master Vamp homing device. In fact, her performance is so good that it’s almost out of place with the rest of the so-so acting here. James Woods seems to relish the ability to crank up a badass persona into the stratosphere. It’s so cheesy I started having Nicholas Cage flashbacks. Thomas Ian Griffith plays king-shit vamp Valek, but similar to Christopher Lee’s Drac there’s more hissing and silence than speaking. The soundtrack feels like a bad western, with the “wa-dow-dow” playing at an overly loud volume. It borders on camp, but a brief riff on Tubular Bells gives viewers a respite. That annoying western music gets Vampires a half-pumpkin subtraction for being annoying.