Vampires Review

Should anyone hope to tackle ancient beasts of horror, then they had best have a strong idea behind them. Vampires pertains to that attitude, grabbing John Carpenter and throwing him headfirst into a James Woods and Sheryl Lee-starring vampire feature. He has tackled capitalist aliens, invisible men and shape-shifting beasts from an icy tundra, but his unwinding is vampiric beasts. Unlike his work on Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Carpenter leaves an unmistakable imprint on Vampires that easily identifies the piece as his own creation. His voice, and a powerful voice at that, is clear in the movement of the camera, the performances of his cast and the meanings behind his story. 

Vatican heroes, old school weaponry in the modern era, it is very much a case of Vampires wanting the best of both worlds. It has such, and the blur of biker jackets and crossbows is an excellent one. Carpenter is not able to make it a convincingly supernatural notion of the real world, but why would he want that? Fire up the stunning special effects and the inevitable gore to come and take Vampires for the entertaining and loose thrill ride it is. Plenty of tension to be found within, and with such clarity and desire. There is hope among these ambitious vampire hunters, and the work of God flows through them. Only the finest supernatural features include the sanctity of religion as a repellent of demons, and Carpenter manages to evade the main crux of religious purity by making his team of heroes self-indulgent and crass. 

They are rough and ready, but also completely detestable. Their work sees them live on a darker, more rebellious side of life. A fashion sense not too different to that of the Hell’s Angels, their actions are manic and spurred on by a fear of death, rather than any desire for goodness. Carpenter does make the actual act of killing vampires a thoroughly entertaining one. Guts and gore are frequent, with plenty of blood and intelligent use of classic vampire tropes. Stakes are barely enough to kill these beasts, and Vampires makes these feral beasts of the night an active, entertaining danger. Despite its lighter tones with some spotty action scenes, Vampires still holds a candle to the vampire-driven stories of the same decade. From Dusk Till Dawn has a story to underline the stranger character motives, whereas Carpenter has no time for such vain details, he wishes to make a film about vampires and have some damn cool people bump them off. That he does. He does it well. 

What does become clear throughout Vampires is the keen ear Carpenter has for music. No wonder he is content in crafting soundtracks and albums. He certainly has a knack for it, and Vampires, if anything, showcases that tremendously. Certainly befitting of the film it backs, the soundtrack lingers consistently as Woods and company make for a solid, ensemble draw. There are fragments of what makes Carpenter such an entertaining director within, but not much of it flows naturally. Undeniably dated, but cool in that regard. Awful sunglasses and bandanas flow through with the inevitable leather jackets and extreme close-ups on protagonists having tactful stare downs with old-looking doors. Vampires knows how dumb it is, and leans into that with desperation, tact and skill. 

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