Vampires are among us, and it is up to James Woods, the forgotten Baldwin, and the Vatican to keep them in line! I would have loved to have been in the room when Carpenter pitched this one, although, one would assume he'd have left out the swollen Baldwin bit.
Vampires is Carpenter's take on the bloodsucking genre, dressed up in a macho western guise that calls to mind the old bounty hunter films of the '50's. This time the bounty are vampires, and the hunters are an esoteric lot of super skilled slayers led by Jack Crow (Woods), a veteran of the vampire killing trade who has a personal stake (OH! Bad pun!) in his job because he lost his folks to the baddies when he was a boy. Assisting him in his quest for vampire obliteration is Montoya (Daniel Baldwin, as swollen as ever, and sweaty as well!), his most trusted soldier, and friend.
The film begins with the Slayer's clearing a nest of vamps. After a job well done, the group return to their motel where the local officials have thrownthem a party complete with booze and hot looking hookers like Katrina (Lee). Meanwhile, an uninvited guest comes in the guise of Valek (Griffith), who looks like Trent Reznor and fights like Bruce Lee. He wipes out all of Crow's men, with the exception of Montoya, and infects Katrina. Crow and Montoya take her prisoner and use her as a guide to finding Valek and stopping what could be a vampire armageddon! You see, Valek is not only a strong vampire, he is the FIRST vampire, and he has come to America to lead other vamp masters in a full on war against mankind!
JC's Vampires is an entertaining flick, but at the same time it serves as a reminder of how much better Carpenter's films used to be. While the story is pretty original, it's execution is flawed by overly macho dialogue that comes off as self-parody, especially with James Woods' lines. His tough guy routine wears really thin after awhile, as does Baldwin's slap happy misogynist's love/hate relationship with Katrina. Lee looks nice naked, which is probably the only thing she brings to the table here, but oh, what a nice table. Thomas Ian Griffith is menacing as Valek, until he starts talking, and then he comes off as a bit of a poof who'd be more at home in an Ann Rice novel.
The DVD throws us a few bones, the best of which is the commentary by Carpenter, in which he seems to really enjoy the film he cobbled together,(admittedly, after watching WITH the commentary, subsequent viewings made me appreciate the film more if only because of JC's enthusiasm!). We also get a theatrical trailer, still gallery, and the talent bios we all know and love.
The fact that Vampires is now a bargain priced DVD (usually available for $14 bucks or less!) makes it a no brainer purchase if you're remotely entertained by vampires, Carpenter, or even if you just want to own a long Sheryl Lee nude scene (slow-mo makes it ever longer!), but prepare yourself for an hour and a half of James Woods spouting more macho bullshit than a football coach on game day. Halfway through, you just may start rooting for the vampires!