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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Vampires

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin
Director: John Carpenter
Rated: R
RunTime: 107 Minutes
Release Date: October 1998
Genres: Horror, Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller

*Also starring: Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

Review by AlexI
2 stars out of 4

The last of vampire-films offers plenty of blood and gore, but beyond that - nothing.

Jack Crow (James Woods) is a professional vampire slayer that is secretly working for the Vatican. His and his men's mission is to clean the earth from vampires. They have lost count of how many vampires they have slaughtered, but one has always escaped them. Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith ) - the Dark Messias and ruler of the undead that is older than time itself. For all eternity the vampires have searched for their salvation - the Black Cross. With the cross in their possesion, the vampires will be able to walk in the sunlight. After that it is either the humans or the vampires who will dominate the earth...

I have never liked John Carpenter and his style. After seeing this film, my opinions have not changed. John Carpenter remains John Carpenter. However, because of the film's self-irony, black humour and fascinating cinematography, I would say that it is his greatest achievement in a long, long time.

Neither the synopses or Carpenter's direction are original. But there are some things that are interesting. The director's negative view on the Catholic Church, for instance. At the end of the film it becomes clear that Cardinal Alba (Maximilian Schell ) has simply used Crow and his team to find Valek, so that he would gain eternal life. Otherwise the Catholic priests are shown cool - drinking, smoking and breaking the rool of celibacy.

Carpenter has created an interesting atmosphere. Set in New Mexican dessert, he switches between bright golden sunrises and bloody sundowns, symbolically illustrating the good and the evil through light and darkness. More than anything in this film, this simple illustration shows the battle between good and evil. The cinematography by Gary B. Kibbe is probably the film's greatest achievement. Music (composed by John Carpenter himself) is at times effective, the special effects and makeup are likewise worth a notice.

When it comes to the cast (in an intellectual film like this casting is the last problem; everyone can scream and swing the axe!), but here James Woods is suprisingly convincing. He is macho and cool as the dedicated hunter, who lost his family to the "breed of evil". Woods is constantly overacting, which really saves the film from falling into the trap of serious self importance. Daniel Baldwin is also entertaining as Crow's loyal partner. The other cast members are struggling.

Because the film doesn't take itself too seriously, it stays afloat. Still it is like most vampire-films - a mediocre experience.

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