John Carpenter’s Vampires : Review

Arguably John Carpenter’s last great film, Vampires is based on the novel by John Steakley and concerns Jack Crow brilliantly played by James Woods who’s team of mercenary vampire hunters is slaughtered by the master vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). Crow teams up with Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) to fight back but their only link to Valek is the beautiful, psychic prostitute Katrina (Sheryl Lee) who was bitten by Valek, and with her help they set out to confront the ultimate evil.

The film starts out with a superb assault on a nest of vampires in an old house in the desert, after seemingly killing all the vampires in the nest, Crow seems concerned that the master vampire was not there and his concerns turn real when Valek turns up at a party to slaughter most of his team. The film then builds nicely to a satisfying blood soaked finale.

This is probably the film that is most like the westerns that Carpenter loves so much, the action is fast and gory, also the suggested complicity of the Catholic Church in destroying these creatures adds another dimension to the story.

The Blu ray released by Indicator / Powerhouse is another excellent release with a very good remastered transfer, an improvement on the previous French Blu ray. A very solid and stable picture with very bold colours and nice grain structure. Audio gives you a choice of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or LPCM 2.0 stereo. Both sound very good, clean , clear and solid bass make this a great demo disc on the 5.1 track. Extras are also plentiful.

• 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. Very interesting discussion with Carpenter on great form but a bit naughty of Powerhouse to put the 2nd half of the lecture on the release of Ghosts of Mars.
• Behind the scenes (6 mins): original ‘making of’ documentary,
• Cast & Crew Interviews (9 mins)
• B-roll footage (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

Another class release from Indicator / Powerhouse and I look forward to their other releases with great interest. This Blu ray is Region Free.

FILM: 8 PICTURE: 8.5  AUDIO: 8 EXTRAS: 8