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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.34%
Worth A Look29.66%
Average: 9.32%
Pretty Bad: 21.19%
Total Crap: 19.49%

10 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Vampires (1998)
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by Ryan Arthur

"How do you like your stake?"
3 stars

A disappointment, to say the least.

I was so looking forward to this film, and believe me, that's saying a lot.

Scream brought horror movies back to the mainstream. Regardless of how you feel about that film, it was beneficial to the genre as a whole.

I've never been a horror buff. It's never been my cup of tea, really. I liked Scream, and that's about it. I'm more into the psychological thriller types - the Silence Of The Lambs kind - than I am the out-and-out gore. I thought I Know What You Did Last Summer blew ass and moved the genre back a step.

Despite my indifference to horror, I'm something of a John Carpenter fan. He's been kind of spotty (Memoirs Of An Invisible Man? Escape From LA), but mostly he's good at what he does. I liked They Live and Big Trouble In Little China, for crying out loud, two of the cheesiest cheese films out there. But they were cool. Which is why I was looking forward to this film.

And something just wasn't quite right.

Here's the plot: a group of Vatican sanctioned vampire hunters searches the southwest for nests, busting in and killing bloodsuckers. The hunters are led by Jack Crow (James Woods, going full on badass), whose parents were bitten by vampires when he was younger. One night, after having his nest cleaned out, a master vampire named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) storms the hunters' hotel and lays waste, killing everyone except for Crow, his partner Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), and a hooker named Katrina (Sheryl Lee), whom he bites anyway. Crow says they were set up, and he plans to go out and kill the master, using the soon-to-turn into a vampire Katrina as bait. Since she's been bitten, she'll have a psychic link with the big guy. Crow's superior (Maximilian Schell) sends a young priest (Tim Guinee) to keep an eye on Crow and help out. Meanwhile, Valek's looking for a "black cross" which will help him become the first vampire to be able to walk in daylight.

What could've been good - could've been great - falls into predictability and would-be surprises that either don't make sense or have no shock value.

We're treated to some tricky vampire fighting techniques. Early on, a character gets bitten. The actual transformation to a vampire doesn't take place until after 48 hours after the bite. The character cauterizes the wound (apparently) using a lighter. Later in the film, the character's bitten again, and again cauterizes the wound (it's a different spot), but announces he's going to change anyway.

Um, Okay.

There's the matter of the doublecross. When only Crow, Montoya, their superior and a priest survive, you know one of them did it, and when one of those characters is played by a well-known actor playing the heavy, then you know for certain. There's no surprise there. The moment you see the doublecrosser on screen, you just know, and you're waiting for the film's climax for the character to show up again (which does happen).

There's also the prerequisite barely there effects (anyone remember that lame computer generated wave from Escape From LA?). With a $20 million dollar budget, I expected more than cutaway shots of mannequins catching fire or crashing to the ground while strapped to a cross, but that was what I got.

I'll also mention the film having a really nasty misogynistic streak to it, too (Sheryl Lee bears the brunt of it), which kinda bugged me.

Thankfully, the obvious lame one-liners were kept to a minimum, but the ones that were there all came from the Baldwin, who annoyed the hell out of me. But that could've been just because he's a Baldwin.

Despite the negatives, I didn't hate this film. James Woods was one of the better dark heroes of the last few years (and this is probably his best performance in a long, long time), and Thomas Ian Griffith pretty much ruled as Valek. I even liked Guinee as the young priest. The score (composed by Carpenter, as is the case with most of his movies) was outstanding.

It's just not enough, though.

It could've been worse, but it could've been sooo much better.

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originally posted: 11/03/98 02:09:53
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User Comments

4/11/18 Guru This movie is 20 years old and I still enjoy it. Great horror. On a par with Dusk to Dawn. 5 stars
2/21/17 morris campbell another carpenter dud awful 1 stars
6/21/07 Bitchflaps The cast is fine and the vampires are very cool, but I found myself rooting for Ravek. 3 stars
2/03/07 AJ Muller Carpenter goes west. Woods kicks ass. Audience applauds the return of the true master. 5 stars
9/14/06 Booksworm At least it's better than Ghosts of Mars 4 stars
1/02/06 cody a lousy movie done by a great horror director, with ok plot , ok make up, bad movie 1 stars
8/19/05 ES It had potential (for yet another vampire flick) but comes up short = uh-uh 2 stars
3/14/05 christopher elder excellent vampire film. 5 stars
7/17/04 Harry J Carpenter surprised me with this crap. There's a lot of better vampire flicks out there. 2 stars
3/20/04 john Carpenter may never return to his true form but this is actually pretty good 4 stars
1/26/04 Eric Didn't like James Woods till this movie.Loved the blond too. 4 stars
1/17/04 J The movie could of been better if the fights were longer! ** 1/2 out of 4 3 stars
1/13/04 American Slasher Goddess Good performances by Woods and Griffith, but everything else is pretty bad. 2 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Quite good in a trashy way. Woods elevates this with a great, fun performance. 4 stars
3/06/03 Dina Smith Total macho shit 1 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby Underrated, inventive horror pic. James Woods is outstanding. 4 stars
10/14/02 JesseL Teak. James Woods makes it happen. The sequel sucks. 5 stars
6/19/02 Charles Tatum Gore and nothing more 3 stars
1/28/02 Andrew Carden Just A Bunch Of Bloody, Stupid Fight Scenes and A Few Minor Scares. 2 stars
11/03/01 Jim A little mahogany? A little ebony? A guy split in half with a little finger? 5 stars
11/01/01 Vampire fan duh!! Fucking awesome movie. Better than blade is right! GREAT film 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk James Woods kicks ass. The best time with vampires since Lost Boys. 4 stars
7/24/01 There are all the elements here. Gore,mayhem,humor and a very sexually gratifying scene. 4 stars
7/08/01 Gracy Lionheart Might be worth it to rent on video, but I felt like I wasted my money at the theater. 2 stars
5/04/01 Gracy Lionheart It was boring. Nothing memorable about it. Even Blade was more entertaining. 1 stars
11/03/00 Terrie Smith Love it or hate it; one of those movies than can go either way. 4 stars
4/01/00 malcolm better than "Blade" 4 stars
1/19/00 Add Someone should stick a stake deep into the heart of this crap!! 1 stars
10/14/99 sophia962 Kept me awake...Woods is interesting to watch. 4 stars
10/07/99 Spankasaurus HAHAHA!! I saw this flick on video! LA LA LA...(worth the 3 bucks) 4 stars
9/25/99 Isla Pretty good to me 4 stars
5/24/99 Allie Very realistic and entertaining 4 stars
3/16/99 the_machine Pure and utter shit 1 stars
2/03/99 Mark Reilly What can I say, if you got GREAT gore, who really cares about a plot?? 5 stars
12/28/98 Dan Rowe I thought the lead vampire was great, very "goth"-did you know he once played Rock Hudson? 4 stars
12/26/98 MR HOLLYWOOD!! I cant belive i wasted money on this piece-of-shit!,actors suck,music even worse,lame story 1 stars
12/23/98 CYaniDERuSH Fuckin Awsome baby! 5 stars
12/23/98 Brent Not very good. I felt sorry for James Woods. 2 stars
12/09/98 Shadow Raider Hey Buffy, it's vampire hunting season! Bring out the guns! Bring out the chemical warfare! 5 stars
12/06/98 Mr Showbiz Plenty of tricks and treats, as well as a vicious mean-streak. 3 stars
11/25/98 mike davis Pathetic. Every line fell into 1 of 3 categories: yelling, cussing, yelling and cussing. PU 1 stars
11/21/98 Freyja Moron movie full of moron actors blurting out cheez-whiz lines. Sucked big moose cock. 1 stars
11/21/98 Mike Horror greatness! 5 stars
11/20/98 J Rockin Action 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Mixed reactions from my crew, but I thought Woods kicked ass in a crap film. 3 stars
11/10/98 CaptNish A fresh flick if yah ask me. It's worth the cash to go see it. 4 stars
11/07/98 Pariah Buffy meets The A Team...pure cheez. Bad acting, FX, and score. 2 stars
11/07/98 Negative Creep s'okay 4 stars
11/05/98 lord rashanko what the fuck was johnny boy thinkin? 1 stars
11/04/98 cyanide rush "hey padre tell me something, when you saw this movie did you get a little wood?" 5 stars
11/04/98 Bad Kosh Better than Buffy the Vampire Slut, way awesome with tons of action. Blade could do better 5 stars
11/03/98 The Dude The movie was so fuckin'cool. It's one of my favorites now, it kick motherfuckin' ass bitch 5 stars
11/02/98 16 in. of swingin' meat and a bucket of balls Woods was very convincing. Enjoyed myself thouroughly. Great! 5 stars
11/01/98 Johny Cool film, better than BLADE 4 stars
10/31/98 Miss Stress this has to be the most boring vampire movie i have ever seen. Just give me Lost Boys. 1 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool wasn´t bored for a minute, though it went long, James Woods was super. 5 stars
10/18/98 I'm Orgazmo. It fuckin' rules. Better than Blade could ever be. 5 stars
8/27/98 Mister Whoopee Ultra-violent, horiffic, tres cool. Woods is awesome, a classic Carpenter anti-hero. 5 stars
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  30-Oct-1998 (R)


  10-Dec-1998 (MA)

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