Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Time - John Carpenter's VAMPIRES on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Twilight Time - John Carpenter's VAMPIRES on Blu-ray

VAMPIRES (1998; John Carpenter)
If Howard Hawks had some how been alive to make an R-rated vampire hunter movie in 1998, it might have looked something like JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES. Now you might be saying that VAMPIRES is a lesser Carpenter film and that saying it might have been a Howard Hawks movie elevates it above its actual quality level. I agree and disagree at the same time. VAMPIRES is by no means Carpenter's best film, but I believe it to be one of his better, later works. And as for the Hawks comparison, I'm not saying it's like RIO BRAVO level Hawks, but perhaps more EL DORADO or HATARI-level Hawks. I actually love both HATAIR and EL DORADO, but like VAMPIRES, they seem a bit under-appreciated in Hawks canon. John Carpenter has of course acknowledged on countless occasions that Hawks is one of his favorite filmmakers. He's made it obvious in doing things like remaking Hawks' production of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and quasi-remaking RIO BRAVO in the form of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. At his best, Carpenter captures and carries on all the best things about Hawks. THE THING is a prime example of the male camaraderie that was oft illustrated wonderfully in Hawks movies. VAMPIRES fits into this category as well. Like a Hawks protagonist, Jack Crow (played here by James Woods) is a professional. He is a professional vampire hunter working for the Catholic church and he leads a well-armed team of hunters on vamp extermination missions throughout the United States. Like a Hawks hero often does, he has a right-hand man that he trusts and relies on to back him up (Daniel Baldwin). They have a bond that goes way back and they have a near bromance-level affection for each other. It's kind of adorable and it's also a thing I miss in today's dude movies. It seems like there are a lot more loner types and nihilistic solo acts in a lot of modern action movies at the moment. Good, old-fashioned guy's guy kind of relationships seem to have fallen by the wayside a bit. Anyway, VAMPIRES reminds me a little of HATARI in that James Woods has a team of guys and they have lots of equipment and have a by-the-book method for disposing of creatures of the night. Jack Crow even spouts of rules by number to his crew from time to time - making sure they remember the most important guidelines to keep themselves safe. Of course what Jack doesn't know is that his team is about to come up against the vampire to end all vampires. Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer from TWIN PEAKS) is in this too and stars as a prostitute who was bitten by the king vampire and subsequently has a psychic link to the king. Basically, this movie offers a delightfully welcome badass role for James Woods and reminds me that I'd love to see him in more horror movies. It's also the best part that Daniel Baldwin has ever had (and probably will ever have). He's an excellent sidekick to Woods and I salute Carpenter for giving him a chance to show what he could do, if only one time in his career. Maybe he deserves another shot at a character like this at some point. I'm reminded though that Carpenter, like Hawks again, had the ability to put together a solid ensemble and that's always a pleasure to see.

Special Features:

First off, I should mention that this transfer is a new one (different from any previous non-U.S. Blu-rays) and it looks very very good. The supplements here aren't anything new, but they are solid nonetheless:
-Audio Commentary with John Carpenter. This is the same commentary as in previous releases of the movie, but it's a good one (as most Carpenter tracks are). 
-"The Making of John Carpenter's Vampires" (6 mins). This vintage promotional featurette has some behind the scenes and interviews with Carpenter and cast.
-Isolated Score track.
-Original Theatrical Trailer.

JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES can be purchased directly from Twilight Time's site here:
(I know that the numbers on this title are dwindling quickly, so grab it forthwith if you want it.)

1 comment:

Steven Millan said...

As much flack as this film gets,it is indeed one of John Carpenter's more fun and better films,with Straight-To-VHS Video/DVD action star Thomas Ian Griffith making a pretty terrifying vampire lord for James Woods to face off against,and all of the rousing action,the splattery gore,Woods' profanely half-crazed vampire hunting hero,and the non-sparling vampires also help make this film.