Blu-ray Review: John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)

September 28, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Jack Crow (James Woods) leads a team of hard-livin’ vampire killers (seriously they dig on hookers and booze as much as ending the undead existence of fang-bangers) who excel at what they do… so much so they attract the attention of a recently resurrected vampire lord (Thomas Ian Griffith), Jan Valek by name, who begins acting bloody revenge.

His team ripped to shreds, Crow and his second-in-command Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), along with a newly vampiric hooker named Katrina (Sheryl Lee), attempt to stop Valek from retrieving a holy doo-dad that’ll give those beastly bloodsuckers the ability to walk in the sunlight while seeking vengeance for their fallen comrades.

Some people say ol’ John Carpenter made great flicks in the 80’s, then sort of lost his touch… people say a lot of wrong things. Sure there were some rough patches here and there (1995’s Village of the Damned remake and 1996’s Escape From L.A. were fun but had their faults), but hot damn he also brought us one of his best films ever; 1994’s In The Mouth of Madness, as well as the subject of this here revoltin’ review: Vampires.

Vampires is pure Carpenter through and through; you have the tough as shit, smart-ass hero (who remains completely likable), plenty of grizzly gore, and a memorable score (composed by the man himself). Add to that some interesting variations on the tried and true vampire mythos, a suspenseful “race against the clock”, some dark humor, and great co-star performances (with Baldwin being a real stand-out as the multi-layered second in command of Crow’s vampire extermination biz). So what’s not to love ya picky bastards?

Along with the underrated feature film, Scream Factory have included a nice selection of extras on this Blu-ray release. First up we get an archival audio commentary from Carpenter, and if you’ve never heard a conversation with the maestro you can expect an excellent chat filled with self-effacing dry humor and no illusions of grandeur about the work at hand.

Following that we get interviews with Carpenter, Producer Sally King Carpenter, Cinematographer Garry B. Kibbe, Woods, Griffith, Special Effects Artist Greg Nicotero, and Actor Tim Guinee. Also included are an archival “making of” featurette, the film’s theatrical trailer, TV spots, and a still gallery.

Vicious, funny, and full of that classic Carpenter aesthetic; John Carpenter’s Vampires is an often overlooked gem from the director’s later period and absolutely should not be missed by, especially for those that dig on vamps and violence!



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