Myths and legends of vampires have fascinated and frightened people around the world for hundreds of years. They featured in some of the earliest horror films. Even before World War II, Nosferatu and Vampyr set a high standard for directors to live up to. Myriad films followed, with Interview with a Vampire, The Lost Boys, Near Dark and (sadly) Twilight keeping the legacy going. Cult director John Carpenter entered the fray in 1998 with Vampires. It’s by no means a classic, but has gained a cult following and contains his hallmarks.
Jack Crow (James Woods) leads a team of Vatican-sponsored vampire hunters in their quest to rid the Americas of the undead. After being ordered to clear a nest in New Mexico by Cardinal Alba (Maximilian Schell), they are all but wiped out by a master vampire called Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). Only Crow and Tony Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) survive and must team up with a prostitute (Sheryl Lee) and a priest (Tim Guinee) to avenge their deaths.
As long as you approach Vampires as a less than serious venture, it’s good fun. Woods is a scattergun jittery firecracker, marauding around the screen with terminal intensity. There’s nothing particularly original at play here but Carpenter ensures that there’s plenty of action and bloodshed to keep you entertained. Vampires does nothing to innovate or define the sub-genre, but provides a spirited, funny, and thrilling rollercoaster ride of a horror film.
Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:
• High Definition remaster
• 5.1 surround sound track
• Alternative stereo audio
• Audio commentary with director John Carpenter
• The Guardian Interview with John Carpenter – Part One, 1962-1983 (1994, 38 mins): the director discusses his career with Nigel Floyd at the National Film Theatre, London
• Behind the scenes (1999, 6 mins): original ‘making of’ documentary
• Cast & Crew Interviews (1999, 9 mins)
• B-roll footage (1999, 9 mins)
• Isolated score: experience John Carpenter’s original soundtrack music
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 20-page booklet with a new essay by Kim Newman, and a 2015 interview with John Carpenter about Vampires
• UK Blu-ray premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 7,000 copies
Vampires is released on Dual Format by Powehouse Films as part of their Indicator Series on Monday.