Monday, February 04, 2008

Vampires Los Muertos – review


Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace

Release date: 2002

Contains spoilers

Now I thought that John Carpenter’s Vampires was a slightly above average film. Not great, it certainly missed the mark on several levels, but above average. That said, I never really considered that it should spawn sequels… but it did, two in fact (ignoring the fact that number 3 doesn’t fit in with the series at all), and this is number two.

the master vampireTrouble is it is virtually the same film as number one, just not as gritty, not as cool and certainly not as original. It also screws around with the lore a little but we’ll get to that later. However, whilst the first film had Jack Crow and his crew decimated and trying to stop a male master vampire getting/using a black cross that could make him a daywalker, this has a different hunter who works alone getting a crew together to stop a female master vampire using the black cross to become a daywalker.

Meet Derek Bliss, vampire hunter and played by Jon Bon Jovi. Okay, lets be honest we know that Bon Jovi is not going to be as gritty or hard hitting as James Woods and he isn’t, not by a long shot. I’m not the greatest Jon Bon Jovi fan, I admit, but he just seems too much like James Wood Lite, with all the caffeine and other nastiness removed that made Jack Crow the great character he was.

ouchWhen we first meet him he is in Mexico interrupting an assault on a whore by a guy with a razor. All is not as it seems however and he uses his stake gun (yes he has a stake gun) to fire a stake into the whore’s mouth and pin her whilst he puts one through her heart. He takes the body away, decapitates it and records it, when the sun comes up, bursting into flames. The footage is then sent down a net connection to the Van Helsing Group. Kill confirmed money is transferred to him and he is told to call in.

burnt vampire headHis contact has got him a job from an anonymous patron, but he needs to get a team together. There is some guessing as to whether it is the Vatican making the offer – their main team got wiped out two years before (referring to the first film). Bliss goes to find Father Adam (from the first film) but he is dead. As things go on all the hunters he looks for die before he gets there.

Bliss with ZoeyEventually he meets up with a young lad, Sancho (Diego Luna), Father Rodrigo (Cristián de la Fuente) and Zoey (Natasha Gregson Wagner). Zoe has been bitten, but hasn’t turned yet – ooh, wasn’t there someone like that in the first film. In this however she was bitten twelve months previously and has been taking an experimental drug that holds the vampirism at bay – sorry wasn’t that concept used in the film Forsaken a year before. Let’s look at this for a moment; we know how the vampires came to be – we were told that in the last film – it is purely supernatural, so how a drug will hold it at bay is beyond me as this is no retro-virus type source.

Bliss with RayThrown into the mix is Ray (Darius McCrary) a hunter sent to help, who has to be the most naive vampire hunter ever enlisted in a movie, given what goes on with him. So, this is team Bliss, now if only they could work out how the vampires seem to be one step ahead of them all the time…

temperature scopeLore wise things are pretty darn screwed around in places. Bliss has an eye-piece that shows temperature. With this he notices that Zoey is “as cold as a corpse” when he first meets her. Okay I can live with that but what I didn’t get is how they used it to spot three vampires buried outside a bar during the day. Surely their bodies would match the ambient temperature of the soil around them… or maybe I just don’t get it. Incidentally, given they spotted them how come they missed the master buried right by their truck?

vampire on fireI’m still trying to work out why the still beating heart of a vampire had to be staked (or how it was still beating) having been crispy crittered in sunlight. That didn’t fit in with established lore for the franchise. They also introduce the concept of mass blood transfusion staving off infection – okay, in fairness it doesn’t cure the infection just staves it off, but I don’t like the concept generally as a vampirism cure. The psychic connection thing is back but every man and his dog in this seems to have visions or prophetic dreams.

mass feedingThe idea of masters and goons seems to have been dropped – the ordinary vampires appear much more together than the goons of the previous films. The winch system is back – fair play. I was confused by the weapon holding surfboard, which seemed very Desperado. I’m no surfer but if a surfboard was hollowed out to be a weapons carrier wouldn’t it have been the fattest surfboard in the world. Whilst I’m on a roll let us just mention Sancho picking up an injured villager. Well he didn’t, the young wiry lad stooped to pick him up and then the scene faded to black. He was obviously not big enough to carry an insensible, grown man… sorry, wouldn’t happen.

fangs ahoyThe film is flawed, the thing seems too bright and whilst there is plenty of gory moments there is no tension and no atmosphere to speak of. Some of the effects look nice (I did like the way the head vampire moved, kind of smoothly jerky… odd but that is how it seemed to me). That said, take your brain out and there are many poorer films out there. All in all 3.5 out of 10 seems right to me.

The imdb page is here.

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