John Carpenter's Vampires (1998) DVD Review
John Carpenter, famed director of such classic films as Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween and The Thing brings us a modern vision of vampire folklore that rivals even that of the classic film "Near Dark" The film is about a group of vampire hunters, working under order from the Catholic church. In traditional John Carpenter style, these vampires are not your father's vampires, they are mostly somewhat mindless shapes, save for the "master vampire' Valek, the first vampire.
Any attempts at a traditional plot summary falls far short of explaining the actual film. Vampires has all the elements of a western with fangs. You have a desert setting, a group of bounty hunters and an organized group of enemies that could just as easily be replaced by "Indians" were this a traditional, old fashioned western. James Woods as the lead hunter, Jack Crow adds a unique blend of callous indifference and unyielding focus on his solitary goal, to exterminate vampires. He's tan archetype of the traditional western bounty hunter, focused only on his quarry and unable to form any sort of real human relationships.
Vampires also takes the whole vampire mythology and reinvents it in a very modern, yet very familiar way. Gone is the "attractive" vampire. There is no mistaking Valek for an evil thing, something only playing at being human. This is indeed a refreshing change from the pathos of most modern vampire films.
While this may not be a "thinking man's" film, it's well worth watching for the sheer entertainment value alone. Even a fan of old westerns will see many nods to such films as High Noon. It is certainly one of the best Vampire films to come out of the 90's