John Carpenter's Vampires

John Carpenter crosses the vampire genre with the western-according-to-Peckinpah, adds some digital camera moves and hi-tech mutilation effects, and voilà!, a gorefest of epic proportions. More bodies are decapitated, crunched, pierced, gutted, and incinerated than in any movie in memory. Is it scary? Not at all. Is it funny? Occasionally, as when James Woods (playing a vampire slayer trained by the Church and assigned to clean up New Mexico) interrupts his labors to offer such cogent observations as "A master vampire able to walk in the sun! Unstoppable unless we stop him."

Vampires is so over-the-top that Woods's performance seems restrained--except when he's throwing Sheryl Lee across the room or bashing her head against the furniture. Lee plays a prostitute who's bitten by a master vampire. Since Carpenter is nothing if not literal-minded, the vampire attends to Lee's neck for only a second or two before sinking his fangs into her cunt. Poor Sheryl. Having begun her career as a corpse for David Lynch, she's now undead for John Carpenter. She's so mistreated in this film (when she's not being bitten or punched, she's naked and tied to the bedposts) that it's positively uplifting when she becomes a full-fledged vampire. Her first victim is Woods's partner, who's played by Daniel Baldwin. (No, she does not bite his dick.) Baldwin's character feels pretty conflicted about becoming a vampire. But not Lee's. When she struts down the highway, blood dripping from her fangs onto her cleavage, you know she's having the time of her life even though she's undead. And she's earned it. You go, girl!

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