Movie Review: John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray

VAMPIRES is based on the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley. The movie was directed and scored by John Carpenter from a screenplay by Don Jakoby and stars James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell and Tim Guinee.

“Forget everything you’ve ever heard about vampires,” warns Jack Crow (James Woods), the leader of Team Crow, a relentless group of mercenary vampire slayers. When Master Vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) decimates Jack’s entire team, Crow and the sole team survivor, Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), set out in pursuit. Breaking all the rules, Crow and Montoya take one of Valek’s victims hostage – a beautiful but unlucky prostitute (Sheryl Lee). She is the sole psychic link to Valek and they use her to track down the leader of the undead. As Valek nears the climax of his 600-year search for the Berziers Cross, Jack and the new Team Crow do everything possible to prevent him from possessing the only thing that can grant him and all the vampires the omnipotent power to walk the world in daylight.

Possible spoilers ahead! The story for this 1998 action-packed horror western follows Jack Crow (James Woods) and his team of vampire hunters that does the dirty work for the Vatican. Tony Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) is the muscle and Father Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee) is the new guy who serves as the one who blesses each mission. What happens is, they’re hot on the trail of a master vampire called Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) and he’s building an army of darkness to help him with his own personal cause. Valek, the first vampire, has been searching for an ancient relic called the Black Cross of Berziers that he has some deep religious history with. It’s also said that the possession of this cross will allow Valek to walk in the daylight.

After one of their deadly fights with the vamps, the team picks up Katrina (Sheryl Lee), a beautiful young woman who was bitten by Valek so she has a supernatural connection with the cold-blooded killer that will come in useful. Montoya and Katrina also form a close relationship even though she ends up biting him a few times. The chase leads Jack and his team to a small deserted town where Valek and his fanged goons have taken up shop. This is also when Jack finds out that he’s been betrayed by Cardinal Alba (Maximilian Schell) who sold out to Valek. The final battle begins and just when things don’t look so good for Jack, Montoya saves the day once again for his boss and they’re finally able to stop Valek. Of course, Jack knows that his partner has been bitten so he allows Montoya and Katrina to escape but warns him that if they ever meet again he’d have to kill them.

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features the all-new artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some original artwork and movie credits so you have your choice of which side you’d like to use for the front cover. The Blu-ray disc features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release and were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I had a blast revisiting John Carpenter’s Vampires that’s actually a different kind of vampire movie for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s an action-packed western that happens to have vampires in it. Secondly, James Woods takes the lead here as this take no prisoners tough guy and it was a first for Woods who nails it as this action star. Next is the fact that Thomas Ian Griffith does a fangtastic job as the big bad here and he doesn’t have to spit out much dialogue at all because it’s all about his menacing presence. There’s also Sheryl Lee who gives Vampires some much needed sex appeal because this movie is on testosterone overload. Last but not least is the fact that this is a John Carpenter movie through and through and it has his signature all over it. From the way it looks to the score. This is also a character driven movie but there’s lots of blood and gore to go with it. These Vampires die a violent death and spontaneous combust when they’re “killed”. Vampires isn’t a great movie but it is a fun watch and kind of an oddity when it comes to these kind of movies and that’s what I like most about it is the fact that it’s a little different from the others. Vampires is getting a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release on September 14th and is a must have for John Carpenter completists and Scream Factory collectors.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 108 Minutes

Rated: R

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

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include new interviews with some of the cast and crew, some audio commentary, isolated score, a vintage six-part making of featurette, theatrical trailer, five TV spots and a still gallery.

  • NEW Time to Kill Some Vampires – an interview with composer/director John Carpenter, producer Sandy King Carpenter and cinematographer Garry B. Kibbe (12:25)
  • NEW Jack the Slayer – an interview with actor James Woods (22:18)
  • NEW The First Vampire – an interview with actor Thomas Ian Griffith (09:38)
  • NEW Raising the Stakes – an interview with special effects artist Greg Nicotero (10:20)
  • NEW Padre – an interview with actor Tim Guinee (12:45)
  • Audio Commentary by composer/director John Carpenter
  • Isolated Score
  • Vintage Making of featurette (23:41)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:06)
  • TV Spots (03:!6)
  • Still Gallery (06:12)

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