Daily Archives: October 26, 1998

John Carpenter’s Vampires

The putative setting is New Mexico, but this is basically Kentucky-style ethnic cleansing that harks back to mountain feuds like the McCoys versus the Hatfields. Strictly 90s are the nonstop gore and the unpleasantness of all the characters. Adapted by Don Jakoby from John Steakley’s novel Vampire$, this dull splatterfest (1998) follows an exceptionally mean and single-minded vampire slayer (James Woods) who heads a team of Vatican mercenaries bent on finding and destroying a 600-year-old vampire priest (Thomas Ian Griffith) and not caring much who gets mauled in the process. Apart from the bitter glee of the anti-Catholic asides and the obligatory nods to Howard Hawks, the nastiness of the good guys is so unrelentingit extends even to Daniel Baldwin, who plays Smiley Burnette to Woods’s Gene Autrythat I was rooting for the vampires, albeit without much enthusiasm. It’s hard to be on anyone’s side when the genocidal fervor is so dogged and dehumanizing that characterization scarcely exists and the closest thing to wit is an epithet directed at a woman stabbed in the heart: How d’ya like your stake, bitch? (JR)… Read more »

Slam

Though not really as accomplished as it’s cracked up to be, this Cannes and Sundance prizewinner about a young rap poet (Saul Williams) finding himself in prison with the help of a sensitive writing teacher (Sonya Sohn) has all the inspirational uplift it strives for, and some pretty good rap performances as well. The fact that it wears its good intentions so clearly on its sleeve limits it. Directed by Marc Levin from a script he authored with Richard Stratton, Sohn, Williams, and costar Bonz Malone. (JR)… Read more »