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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Walter Frith read the review movie review
3.  Dustin Putman read the review movie review
4.  AlexI read the review movie reviewmovie review
5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Taking his cue from "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula," John Carpenter includes himself in the title, which is an indication of how self-absorbed his first venture into vampirism is. The scare story with campy, comedic overtones revolves around deception and betrayal as a Catholic Cardinal (Maximilian Schell) hires a cynical, gunslinging vampire slayer (James Woods). Along with his grungy driver (Daniel Baldwin) and other team-mates, he destroys a bloodsuckers' nest in an abandoned farmhouse in rural New Mexico and then gets ambushed by the 600 year-old original vampire "master" (Thomas Ian Griffith) who is looking for a legendary "black cross" through which he can obtain for himself and his successors the power to walk in daylight. What Carpenter does is transform the Gothic castle-with-cobwebs cliche into a dusty Southwestern setting with scenes reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" and directorial touches of Howard Hawks. His inventive manner of annihilation is picturesque, as the slayers shoot a "stake" into the creatures and then drag them into the sunlight, where they instantly become "crispy critters." Unlike Robert Rodrigues's "From Dusk Till Dawn," in which the characters morphed into bats, there are few computer-generated special effects. Instead, Carpenter depends on lighting and make-up, which includes lots of prosthetics and rubber appliances. Don Jakoby's screenplay, based on "Vampire$" by John Steakley, delivers some vicious indictments of Catholicism and a curious AIDS virus parallel, but James Woods emerges as the biggest, bad-tempered spook. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "John Carpenter's Vampires" is a raunchy, grotesque 4. Lots of big fangs and blood-splattering scenes.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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