I’ve seen this film countless times and after the latest viewing I thought it prudent to review it.
The film opens with a team of vampire hunters hitting a ‘nest’ of vampires in the daylight (sensible I guess given the prey!), their objective is to take out a ‘master’ vampire who is responsible for the death of another squad. The team, guided by a ‘by the book’ leader and supported by a priest have a nice selection of weaponry including silver tridents and a harpoon gun tied to the winch on a 4X4. Incidentally the winch weapon, which spears victims and drags them kicking and screaming into the sunlight where they literally explode is one of the highlights of the film, we see it many times, but it just never gets boring! Anyhow, the team go looking for the master vampire, clear out the nest but don’t find the master, that night the master comes looking for them and enacts his revenge. It transcends that the master vampire is looking for an ancient relic, a black cross which will allow him to walk in the daylight, and it’s up to the remainder of the team to try to stop him.
That’s basically the story. The plot is solid throughout but it’s quite linear in the sense that there is nothing added to the vampire legend which is a bit of a shame considering the imagination Carpenter has displayed in other films. What makes this film stand out from many recent vampire movies is that despite being set in modern times, the vampires are traditional gothic in appearance rather than leather clad ‘electro-goth’ typical of many recent films. This, in my opinion benefits the film and gives it some identity.
In terms of action the film is pretty much packed full, particularly the first and last third. The only real criticism is that the pace does slacken quite a bit in the middle and there seems to be a lot of waffle for very little plot movement, and really, despite the films attempt to build on story, you know its just heading for the show-down at the end.
The film is reasonably gory, particularly the scene in the motel where you see a pretty gruesome shotgun death and several dismemberments. It isn’t Fulci gory but it’s good to see that Carpenter isn’t afraid to show a bit of ‘over-the-top’ red stuff now and again.
Overall ‘Vampires’ is a solid entry into the genre. It’s not amazing and to be honest there are better, but with a few mates and some beer the film has got enough of a mix of action, gore and story to keep you entertained.