Saturday, October 19, 2013

My years in horror: 1998

This entire year could have been destroyed by one film: Gus Van Sant's worthless shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. It took a lot to make up for it, but really, I wish we could just remove that film from history except for the hope that maybe it will stop other people from making the same mistake.

So what did make up for it? Bride of Chucky is great. The Faculty is fun. Strangeland--one of the first films to explore the internet--had some good moments as does Halloween H2O. I'd love to give this to the little seen vampire movie Razor Blade Smile but this time I'll go with something you should have seen.

OK, John Carpenter's Vampires isn't a great adaptation of John Steakley's novel Vampire$. Read the book, really. Then come back to the film and think of it as something different. You'll feel better.

James Woods is a total bad ass in this film. He's like Anthony Hopkins in Bram Stoker's Dracula. He's 100 percent believable as a dude dedicated to killing vampires. And Daniel Baldwin is his perfect sidekick. They're both jerks but you have to root for them because the alternative is worse.

Our vampire is Valek, played by Thomas Ian Griffith. He's vicious and fills the screen with power. Valek is an old school vampire: he's not looking for romance; he's looking to walk during the day and take over the world. Jack Crow (Woods) stands in his way.

I wouldn't blame you if you stopped watching this movie after Crow walks away from the exploding motel full of the bodies of his fallen mates. Things slow down for awhile after that, but don't worry, they pick up again later.

Vampires incorporates excellent Southwestern locations, particularly the Spanish mission imagery which works with the Crow character's connection to the Catholic church. I truly believe Carpenter knew what he was doing here and hitting number one at the box office during its opening weekend shows just how great a Carpenter film can be.

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