"Mediocre DTV sequel to a mediocre John Carpenter vamp-fest."
Though hardly John Carpenter's best effort, 1998's "Vampires" earned some solid box-office coin and a staunch stable of supporters - most of whom attribute their affection for the film to the the lead performance by James Woods: Vampire Ass-Kicker.Since Vampires was one of the few Carpenter projects of late that actually turned a quick profit, it came as no surprise to learn that a direct-to-video sequel was on the way. What did come as a small surprise was that rocker Jon Bon Jovi would be assuming the lead role, since there's very little chance that Jimmy Woods would need the money that badly.
Though Vampires: Los Muertos bears a generally unreliable "John Carpenter Presents" banner, the director this time out is longtime Carpenter backup Tommy Lee Wallace - who worked with JC on many of his early features before helming the disastrously received Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Gone is the smart-ass bravado of Woods and the dark sexiness of Sheryl Lee. This time out we got Bon Jovi (Moonlight and Valentino), the elvishly adorable Natasha Gregson Wagner (High Fidelity), young Spanish goofball Diego Luna (Open Range) and the buffest and most barrel-chested preacher man ever to wield a wooden stake (Christian de la Fuente of Driven).
The story is basically the same old schpiel: Bon Jovi, undead exterminator extraordinaire, is recruited (by the "Van Helsing Group" - haw haw) to rid a South of the Border burg from a particularly nasty vampire invasion. Picking up a gaggle of predictably colorful sidekicks on the way, Bon Jovi ocassionally butts heads with the bloodthirsty bastards before matching up against a sexily brunette queen of the undead.
There's a whole lotta malarkey about devious priests and ancient curses and ESP connections, but most of that is just brain-dead filler in between the bloody bits. Most clearly insipid is an ongoing plot device regarding our willowy heroine's vampiric nature being quelled by blood transfusions and a particularly helpful batch of pharmaceutical products. But let me ask you this: if some special pills could prevent you from turning into a bloodsucking undead freak - do you think you'd ever FORGET the pills and just leave them behind one day? Yeah, that happens here. Needless to say, queen of the blood-drinkers finds the pills more than a little helpful.
Despite a handful of worthwhile horror moments, Vampires: Los Muertos is almost entirely dead on arrival. Wallace manages to present the film in a fairly handsome light, but his visual style is consistently undone by his own hamfisted screenplay. Though the flick is notably more entertaining than many of the other DTV horror flicks found populating the video stacks, there's very little here worth remembering once the end credits have started to roll.On the plus side, the flick is sure to make a little money on the video market, some of it inevitably finding its way into the pockets of John Carpenter. Maybe he can use it to bankroll one of his own projects. He's too cool a filmmaker to end up simply plastering his name all over DTV product. We already have one Wes Craven out there.