Blu-ray Review: John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES

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VAMPIRES was directed by John Carpenter, written by Don Jakoby and is based on the novel by John Steakley. The film stars James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell and Tim Guinee. Score by John Carpenter.

This 1998 gritty vampire action-thriller follows smart-mouth Jack Crow (James Woods), a Vatican-sanctioned vampire slayer, his loyal and wise-cracking sidekick Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), and Father Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee), a naïve young priest who goes through some growing pains when he joins their journey of vampire slaying. Jack and his tough team of biker-looking, leather-wearing vampire slayers end up going against Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), a centuries-old vampire ring leader in a race to retrieve a religious relic that would allow the fanged nocturnal dwellers to stalk the world in the full light of day.

Once Jack realizes who they are going up against and learns more about this relic, it’s a no holds barred brawl that pits human versus vampire in a battle for this ancient prize. Along the way Montoya ends up falling for Katrina (Sheryl Lee), a hooker they save from an earlier vamp encounter with Valek and as the movie plays out, we get to watch her slowly turn to the dark side. She also offers some much needed sex appeal – even in vampire mode! We also get to watch Father Adam transform from this naïve priest to a hardened vet by the finale. Then there’s Jack Crow played to near perfection by the iconic James Wood. This guy watched his parents get murdered by vampires and has been on the hunt ever since and when he meets up with Valek (also played to near perfection by Thomas Ian Griffith) it’s almost like he gets off on this vampire killing spree as he goes up against this ancient bloodsucker and his gang of fanged minions. Of course there’s also a few surprise obstacles thrown at them while they battle the undead. It’s that blasted Catholic Church and their sinister ways, I’m telling ya!

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Okay, it was a blast revisiting this John Carpenter offering from the late 90’s and it had been a while since I last watched it. The story for Vampires is fast-paced and a lot of fun where we watch this team of vampire “bounty” hunters sanctioned by the Catholic Church hunt down and exterminate a different kind of vampire. There’s a few twists and curveballs thrown in for this group of anti-heroes as they violently battle it out against this deadly group of killers led by the ferocious leader Valek. The New Mexico setting and location helped to tell this story and gave the movie this gritty, western look to it. It’s like a modern day vampire western with lots of blood and leather! Then there’s these vampires that aren’t like other vamps from cinematic history. These are cold-blooded killers that are just about impossible to take down. In fact, to kill these bloodsuckers you have to get super violent with them and use extreme prejudice. They also nest in the ground during the daylight which was interesting. This movie is also a major gorefest full of bloodshed! Lots of the red stuff and cool looking SFX!

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, a few quotes, an image and list of extras. The reverse sleeve features a hint of the new minimal artwork featured on the cover of the booklet. Inside is the “trademark” booklet from Twilight Time that includes this new minimal artwork on the front with the original poster art on the back. The inside of the booklet features some nice words about Vampires by Julie Kirgo along with more images from the movie. Inserting the disc (that also features matching original artwork), the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. Crank it up when you press play! Twilight Time did a fantastic job with this high-def release plus I really like the clear case that they’re including now that just helps the packaging stand out more.

Bottom line is, John Carpenter’s Vampires was a blast from the 90’s past to revisit and it looks and sounds great in high-def. John Carpenter directed this movie that delivered some really scary vamps. These vamps don’t have to say too much in their journey so they simply let their fangs and talons do the talking for them. They are also extremely violent and I really like this about them. It just sets them apart from many other vamps in cinematic history – not all but most. This isn’t John Carpenter’s best horror offering but it’s definitely not his worst. This Blu-ray released on October 13th and has a Limited Edition run of 5,000 Units so be sure you check this one out before they’re all gone. Highly recommended!

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 108 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: Besides the “trademark” isolated score track that Twilight Time always offers, this release also includes some vintage audio commentary and making of featurette along with the theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Score Track
  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director John Carpenter
  • The Making of John Carpenter’s Vampires
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

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