VAMPIRES Blu-ray Review
Jack Crow and Co. are hunting a Vampire master who is supposed to be at the nest they are attacking, but he’s nowhere to be found. Later on the hunters are all attacked by the same master vampire with only Jack and his best friend Montoya being the only surviving members of the crew. Using a recently bitten victim of the master vampire, Valek, they seek to get revenge. However they don’t realise that they’ve been double crossed by the same people they thought they could trust.
Okay, let me just get this out of the way before I continue. ‘John Carpenter’s Vampires’ is awesome. It oozes coolness all the way through. So it’s a crying shame that it crashed and burned like it did on its initial release. It was the lid on the coffin of John Carpenter’s career, before the abomination that is ‘Ghosts of Mars’ hammered in the multiple nails.
Opening with a kick ass minimalist guitar playing over the opening scenes, it has an almost western quality to it. Seeing the sun rise as Jack Crow (James Woods) and his band of vampire hunters seek to destroy a vampire nest, always gets me giddy for the schlocky goodness about to unfold.
James Woods is brilliant as the sarcastic, cynical hero Jack Crow, and Daniel Baldwin is surprisingly good also as fellow hunter Montoya. Thomas Ian Griffith hams it up as the master vampire Valek, and there is lots of great gore on offer. The script snaps with one liners from Jack, and it rarely puts a foot wrong. There’s very little wrong with this movie and it’s one I always revisit.
John Carpenter’s Vampires arrives on Blu-ray for its UK debut with an MPEG4-AVC 1080/24p codec that preserves the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Indicator have also mastered their release using the same transfer that Twilight Time used that restored the film’s original red tint that was missing in earlier HD masters.
Originally filmed with Anamorphic Panavision lenses on 35mm, the transfer on display compliments John’s Carpenter’s use of the widescreen frame throughout. The wider, more panoramic shots of the landscape capture a very refined level of detail as do the close up shots.
The only negative aspect of the transfer though is that with the introduction of the red tint, it does add a bit of black crush to the image which results is detail being lost in the darker scenes or shadows. However, Indicator’s mastering of the Blu-ray is top rate with no compression artefacts observed.
John Carpenter’s Vampires comes equipped with two audio tracks. DTS-MA 5.1 and LPCM 2.0. The film was original released into cinemas with Dolby Digital and SDDS audio mixes which indicates a discreet multi-channel mix so the film was viewed with its original 5.1 audio mix.
Much of John Carpenter’s films do focus on the music aspects and make no mistake that his score for vampire’s sounds absolutely superb here with an aggressive and energetic sound mix with some terrific low end LFE to give the film’s atmosphere more impact. The surround channels get some action to with some nice discreet panning of sound effects that really give the film a superb impact. The disc also contains optional English SDH subtitles
• Commentary – by director John Carpenter
• Isolated Score – Presented as LPCM 2.0
• The Making of Vampires – A mixture of on set interviews with cast and crew with behind the scenes footage and B-Roll
• John Carpenter: The Guardian Interview (Part 1) – An interview with John Carpenter that filmed at the National Film Theatre in London during 1994 (Please note that part 2 of the interview is included on the Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray from Indicator)
• Trailer – The original trailer rounds the disc off
• Booklet – featuring Kim Newman’s essay “John Carpenter’s Vampires”; “John Carpenter on Vampires” (archival interview with the director which was conducted by Jim Hemphill in October 2015 for Filmmaker magazine); and technical credits.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Apart from the slight black crush issue son the video aspect, Indicator has unleashed the best version of John Carpenter’s Vampires on Blu-ray yet with the Guardian interview and collector’s booklet getting it over the finish line with the other editions. One of John Carpenter’s more popular films in his 90’s era, just the fact alone that it’s available on Blu-ray in the UK is enough reason to part your wallet for it. Enjoy!