John Carpenter's Vampires review

On 31 December 1989, the decade known as the '80s finally died. We put it six feet under, confident that it had well and truly expired, and looked forward to what the next 10 years would offer. Now, ironically, while the '90s lies on its deathbed, a certain Mr Carpenter has sneakily dug the '80s back up. He's pushing its shambling, decaying remains towards an unwitting moviegoing public. No wonder he calls himself "The Master Of Terror".

The most insulting thing about Vampires is that it promises to introduce you to "A New Breed Of Evil." Yet Carpenter's `new' idea is to present his creatures of darkness as black-clad gothy-types with hairspray-stiffened mops hovering above their china-white, over-eye-shadowed faces. Lead artery-nipper Valek looks like a cross between Marilyn Manson and that Laurence bloke off Changing Rooms...

But Carpenter's anachronistic sense of fashion isn't the only thing that makes Vampires so embarrassingly dated. The special effects are laughably ropey, and you'll see better monster make-up on toddling trick-or-treaters. Everything about it screams "straight-to-video", not least the presence of oily, tubbed-up F-lister Daniel Baldwin in the supporting slayer role and former David Lynch regular Sheryl Lee as the girlie victim (who, disturbingly, spends most of the film tied up, stripped naked or being slapped around and called a whore).

The only good thing about Vampires is James Woods, who delivers his quips with venom and at least looks like he realises the thing is a dumb joke. But with a script that sounds like it's been written by an understimulated adolescent (based on Johnathan Steakley's `novel' Vampire$), even Woods can only do so much. Baldwin spluttering: ""How do you like your stake, bitch?"" as he skewers another goth is about as witty as it gets. But then, even Oscar Wilde couldn't have saved this cheap, dated, misogynistic misfire.

If you were mad about the Tex-Mex blood-suckery of Near Dark or From Dusk Till Dawn, you might drag some enjoyment out of this festering pit of a movie. Woods offers momentary relief, but that doesn't stop Vampires being sad, uninventive clag.

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