John Carpenter's Vampires
Reviewed by Jason Coffman
Rating: 8 Beans
ell, I never thought I'd actually find occassion to use the words "phallocentric" and "misogynistic" in conversation (and certainly not in a review for Bad Movie Night). However, there is no question that these words are needed to fully transmit the horrifying content of this awful, awful film.
One of the first things you see in this film is Daniel Baldwin urinating by the side of a road. This pretty much sets the tone for the entire movie. James Woods plays Jack Crow, the hardest-bitten of the hard-bitten vampire hunters hired by the Catholic church to kill vampires. Along with Montoya (Baldwin, one of the least believable characters of latin extraction since Jon Voight in "Anaconda") and his group of good-timin' hunters, Crow manages to wipe out an entire "nest."
Then things turn bad when the bad guy from "Karate Kid III" (Thomas Ian Griffith) shows up as master vampire Valek. Valek single-handedly kills all of Crow's team and all but one of the whores they were celebrating with. The one who survives is bitten, though, so she's on her way to becoming a vampire. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of this part of the film is that Katrina the prostitute is played by Sheryl Lee ("Twin Peaks," "Backbeat," "Mother Night"), who really should be getting better roles than this.
Crow and Montoya (the only member of the team to live) are assigned a new priest to roll with (Tim Guinee) and learn of a mysterious item called the "Black Cross" which can be used to make all vampires invulnerable to daylight. Crow and Guinee set out on adventures while Montoya keeps Katrina chained to a bed. Eventually, they all meet up for the climactic showdown. Not much action for as long as the movie is...
But on to my opening sentence. Aside from the Baldwin guy peeing by the side of the road, Crow taunts Valek by asking him if his equipment still works (if you catch my meaning) after all these years, and asks Father Adam if he "gets wood" when Crow beats him up and later when Adam gets up in some vampire action. Beside the fact that the stakes can be easily taken as phallic symbols.
And as for the misogyny... oh my. Literally, the only female characters in the film are whores or vampires. None of the vampire women have any lines (beside god-awful screaming noises), and Sheryl Lee spends about half the film naked, chained to a bed and being verbally and physically abused by Montoya. It's more disturbing than "Kids."
This film is not without virtues, few as they are. One of the very few genuinely interesting ideas this film brings the vampire genre is the idea that the Catholic church was instrumental in the creation of the vampire race. Everything else is pretty standard: stakes, sunlight, etc. There are also a few stylish shots and, to be fair, the whole "vampires as demonic animals" instead of "vampires as Tom Cruise" thing was nice for a change. So, if you're up for a night of subtle homoerotic undertones and vicious treatment of women, rent this film. All others should steer clear.
Other reviews for this movie:
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