John Carpenter’s Vampires – USA, 1998 – reviews and Blu-ray news

Scream Factory is releasing a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s 1998 movie Vampires on September 24, 2019.

  • New Time to Kill Some Vampires – an interview with composer/director John Carpenter, producer Sandy King Carpenter and cinematographer Garry B. Kibbe
  • New Jack the Slayer – an interview with actor James Woods
  • NewThe First Vampire – an interview with actor Thomas Ian Griffith
  • New Raising the Stakes – an interview with special effects artist Greg Nicotero
  • New Padre – an interview with actor Tim Guinee
  • Audio Commentary by composer/director John Carpenter
  • Isolated Score
  • Vintage Making of featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery”

The newly commissioned artwork above is by Devon Whitehead (Silent Hill; Trick ‘r Treat, Valentine, Sleepwalkers). Naturally, the original theatrical artwork will be on the reverse of the sleeve.

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Here’s our previous coverage of the film itself:

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‘Prepare for the dawn.’

Vampires – also known as John Carpenter’s Vampires – is a 1998 American horror western feature film directed and scored by John Carpenter and starring James Woods (Cat’s Eye; Videodrome). It was adapted from the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley by screenwriter Don Jakoby (Arachnophobia; Invaders from Mars; Lifeforce).

The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) and Vampires: The Turning (2005).

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Plot:

“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…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“In some ways, Vampires looks and feels different from other Carpenter movies it’s more frenetic, its visuals less studied than usual but its grimly relentless tone is perfect Carpenter. All the vampires do is kill. All the heroes do is kill vampires. In lesser hands, this could become repetitive and dull; Carpenter plays small, surprising variations throughout, as he does in his score for the film.” Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com

” …as for Don Jakoby’s script, well where to start. I am certainly no prude but by today’s standards it is an embarrassment, littered with casual misogyny and homophobia. Woods character utters the majority of it and whilst there is a certain irony that the villain Valek does indeed look European (“Eurotrash”) and dresses in effeminate (“fag”) clothing, I am not sure the film is meta enough to have made that connection.” Frank Turner, UK Horror Scene

“The story (based on John Steakley’s novel) offers some intriguing ideas, but it’s hard to muster up much sympathy or emotion when the humans are as repellent as those they slay. Sheryl Lee, Twin Peaks‘ Laura Palmer, does remarkably well with her paper-thin role as a bite victim who holds the key to Valek’s potential downfall.” Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

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“The movie has a certain mordant humor, and some macho dialogue that’s funny. Woods manfully keeps a straight face through goofy situations where many another actor would have signaled us with a wink. But the movie is not scary, and the plot is just one gory showdown after another.” RogerEbert.com

” …with poor staging that makes set pieces intended to feel grand instead feel rushed and underwhelming, along with a mixed bag of a cast with some pretty bad supporting roles, Vampires has enough problems to really hold it back from being a significant entry in the vampire subgenre.” Ed Travis, Cinapse

“Rarely has a Carpenter film been this regressively boorish, as well as unjustifiably taken with its smart-ass sense of humor. Even more stunning still, though, is the pedestrian blandness of the director’s widescreen cinematography, which largely involves framing the hammy Woods in faux-tough-guy stances, and which – when married to mind-numbingly repetitive southern-guitar musical themes – helps render the undead action inanimate.” Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness

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In the UK, Powerhouse Films released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on 23 January 2017.

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

  • James Woods as Jack Crow
  • Daniel Baldwin as Tony Montoya
  • Sheryl Lee as Katrina
  • Thomas Ian Griffith as Jan Valek
  • Maximilian Schell as Cardinal Alba
  • Tim Guinee as Father Adam Guiteau
  • Mark Boone Junior as Catlin
  • Gregory Sierra as Father Giovanni
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as David Deyo
  • Thomas Rosales, Jr. as Ortega
  • Henry Kingi as Anthony
  • David Rowden as Bambi
  • Clarke Coleman as Davis
  • Marjean Holden as Female Master

Technical details:

  • 108 minutes
  • Sound: Dolby Digital | SDDS
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

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