Directed by John Carpenter
Written by John Steakley, Don Jakoby
There are movies in which the story is important, there are other movies based on characters or actors, sometimes on special effects. Vampires seems to be based on a well-defined 'style' that is kept throughout the whole movie and that covers every part, every detail, every scene.
The plot deals with a team of vampire killers that, financed by the church, search and destroy the various vampire strains that are still alive (ehm...) in our days. Mixing modern weapons and old vampire-killing tricks they manage to slay various broods until they have to face the original Master of all the vampires, Valek. In the end, the last two survivors of the team have to confront with Valek to prevent him from rescuing an artifact that will grant him even greater power.
Many aspects, including the setting, the music and most of the characters seem to be inspired by the western genre rather than by the horror genre. However, there is enough gore to keep the horror fans happy, let alone the conspicuous number of dismembered, impaled or burnt bodies and the tense scenes. Some humor and some sexual references complete this picture of the covered genres.
Unlike most other vampire movies, Vampires is based on a history of the evil undead creatures that has nothing to do with Count Dracula. Moreover, crosses and holy water have no effects on vampires while the typical wooden stake or the light of the sun seem to be the only way to destroy them. This mix of originality, classical horror aspects, western and vampire genres are the distinctive and 'positive' characteristics of this movie.
It's nice to see Sheryl Lee in a role that has some resemblance with her Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer. Still, the most interesting role is surely the vampire-killer played by a surprising James Woods that seems to be particularly inspired by his strong, cynical but charismatic character. The 'bad guys' are quite scary, especially the Master vampire Valek, and there are a few memorable scenes of vampires coming out from the ground or waiting for their pray on the ceiling of a room.
As I've already said, this seems to be a movie of 'style', if you are 'taken' by it you'll like everything, otherwise you'll start noticing all the negative points of the plot, the flat characters and you won't feel interested nor satisfied by the story. However, if you like the horror/vampire genre then you'll surely enjoy this new Carpenter's production since it's a rather quality movie compared to the average level of this genre (although there are even better examples such as From Dusk Till Dawn).