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Vampires: Los Muertos (2002)
Writer and director: Tommy Lee Wallace
review by Steve Anderson
Now, when John Carpenter released the original Vampires back in 1999, I was pretty happy about it. Happy I tell you! I had only just discovered Allen Steakley's Vampire$ (note the clever spelling-that's the actual title, folks), and by extension, Steakley's Armor, maybe a few months beforehand. And I admit I was a little disgruntled to find that Carpenter was calling it Vampires as opposed to taking the time to spell the damn title right and call it Vampire$. What can I say? I'm a purist.
But anyway - it wasn't so bad. James Woods made a positively killer Jack Crow (no pun intended!) and the plot was at least within shouting distance of the book's plot. And let's face it, John Carpenter is good at what he does. Nay-sayers aside, when Carpenter sets out to do pure dystopian science fiction/ horror, he does it right.
But I want to get my hands on the cartoon character who wrote the script for Vampires: Los Muertos, Tommy Lee Wallace, and educate him until he can't think straight. This is a horrible bastardisation of a chilling book with a plot that really made you think twice about the concept of vampires running free in the world. I question if Tommy Lee even managed to read the original Steakley.
What we've got here instead is a plot so simplistic it makes Dick And Jane look like War And Peace. Jon Bon Jovi, who must be so desperate for work he would've done a commercial for Al-Jazeera, plays our newest vampire hunter, going after a clutch of vampires in northern Mexico. Attempting to cut off the clutch before it can stage a movement into Tucson, or worse, San Diego, Bon Jovi has to fund a team on behalf of some Catholic priests who want the same thing as he does.
Holy crap, man. Did I actually type that just now? Bon Jovi's out to save the world from vampires? I mean, come on... I grew up listening to Bon Jovi! How is he a believable vampire hunter?
And that's just one of the sad and alarming problems with Vampires: Los Muertos. For instance, we've got vampires controlling their vampirism with medication. We've got black crosses able to give vampires the ability to walk in daylight (is everybody stealing from Blade?) and worst of all we have Jon Bon Jovi as a vampire hunter. Aagh! Tommy Lee Wallace, I've never seen a more infuriating squandering of incredible potential!
So anyway... this study in what might have been rattles on along until the sad and horrifying conclusion. I mean horrifying in the 'so awful that you'll be horrified' sense. Perhaps the most comical moments of the movie come from watching Darius McCrary (astute viewers will remember him from Family Matters as Eddie Winslow) play some kind of badass tough guy. He's deepened his voice an unfathomable couple of octaves, and added some nifty Tommy Lee Wallace brand dialogue, but I can't help but see this as the kid who's toughest enemy was Urkel.
Extra features include a director's commentary, although I'm really not interested in hearing Tommy Lee Wallace talk about this unless it's to apologise. Also included is a variety of subtitle options, and trailers for Vampires: Los Muertos, Ghosts Of Mars (another far better movie from John Carpenter) and Bram Stoker's Dracula, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense because that's been on shelves for years. If you wanted another vampire movie, you could've at least used Queen Of The Damned.
So all in all, Vampires: Los Muertos can only be described as sheer average. Horribly squandered potential meets some really impressive acting scenes, and the result is only average.
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