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John Carpenter’s Vampires: Collector’s Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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Vampires (1988)

Jack Crow is on a mission.  He wants to destroy ALL vampires.  It’s a constant act of revenge.  For him, it must be done.  Without question.  That’s the cost all these bloodsuckers pay for the deaths of his parents.  And Crow, as the leader of a group of ruthless mercenary killers known as Team Crow, takes no prisoners.

"Okay, so Vampires is not Ghost of Mars bad, but it is also not very damn good either."

John Carpenter’s Vampires has an EPIC opening and that might be due to his use of the wide angle throughout this supernatural western flick.  James Woods, as Crow, is all about the violence against vampires and he delivers a spellbinding performance against the sun-soaked vistas.  It is obvious that he is having fun here and that fang-busting translates to the screen well, making most of us forget about his . . . recent (and uninspired) political insanity.

But let’s talk about what really works in this movie and that is, unfortunately, the beginning of the movie in which Crow’s entire team wipes out a vampire coven.  It’s bloody, righteous fun, completely over the top, and gets us in the mood for a GREAT John Carpenter flick.

And then, much to our dismay, the entire flick fizzles the fuck out.  It becomes one long chase sequence and the new spin on Vampirism makes for a bunch of zaniness as even Woods himself in the lead role seems confused as to who or what he is fighting.

What?!  We witness this team wipe out all of these vampires, right?  And then they, while celebrating their successes, get taken out by one vampire, Master Vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), and – along with the team – so goes the movie.  It’s like Carpenter just gave up right then and there, having provided a solid opening. 

With only one member of Team Crow left, Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), Crow goes for broke and take one of Valek’s victims for his own, Katrina (Sheryl Lee), and uses her psychic link to the Master Vampire to track him far and wide as he drags them all into his decades long search for the Berziers Cross, a power that gives them the ability to walk into the daylight unharmed. Vampires (1988)

Okay, so Vampires is not Ghost of Mars bad, but it is also not very damn good either.  And that is a damn shame.  Carpenter delivers everything we expect from him in that opening and then betrays his own audience with a plot line that doesn’t adhere to its own rules and some pretty uninspired set pieces.  The promise in the premise is quickly forgotten.

Co-starring Tim Guinee as Father Adam Guiteau and Maximilian Schell as Cardinal Alba, John Carpenter’s Vampires is now out on a Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory, but not even their new special features – with NEW interviews from Carpenter, James Woods, Thomas Ian Griffith, and Special Effects Artist Greg Nicotero – can save this movie from itself.

Carpenter would like us to forget the coffins lined in taffeta.  He’d prefer we forget the formal wear, too.  But, unfortunately, his new breed of vampiric terror does not have a strong enough bite with which to do so. 

John Carpenter’s Vampires is out on blu-ray now.

3/5 beers

Vampires (1988)


Blu-ray Details:

Collector's Edition

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- September 24, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc; reversible slipcover
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory has done Carpenter fans a solid with this release.  But let’s be honest here.  This is hardly a Carpenter classic.  The NEW interviews and the NEW cover art are going to be the reasons you purchase this one. 


The new 1080p transfer of John Carpenter’s Vampires is pretty great, pumping up the lines, the shadows, and the colors.  However, this isn’t the best-looking production in the world.  Go in knowing that.  But the work here sure beats any prior release of this new spin on ancient vampire lore.  Don’t go in expecting much texture, though.  The effects shots are really the only moments of good texture.  While some details are sharp a lot of the colors don’t pop as much as one would expect them to.  Again, the make-up looks strong and the shadow levels are stronger than prior releases but there’s a dip in the filmic quality to the transfer.  Maybe that’s due to its production date.  This is the fate for a lot of the films pouring out from the 1990s.  Fortunately, Shout! Factory has done their best and gives us what details there are to mine out of the print.


There is a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound track that handles Carpenter’s score quite well.  Screams are a bit cleaner and clearer, too.



  • There is not a new commentary but ported over from prior releases is the original commentary recorded by Carpenter.

Special Features:

The Collector’s Edition adds some interviews that fans will want to watch more than the entire movie. 

  • NEW Time To Kill Some Vampires – An Interview With Composer/Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King Carpenter, And Cinematographer Garry B. Kibbe
  • NEW Jack The Slayer – An Interview With Actor James Woods
  • NEW The First Vampire – An Interview With Actor Thomas Ian Griffith
  • NEW Raising The Stakes – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
  • NEW Padre – An Interview With Actor Tim Guinee
  • Audio Commentary By Composer/Director John Carpenter
  • Isolated Score
  • Vintage Making Of Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

Vampires (1988)

MPAA Rating: R for strong vampire violence and gore, language and sexuality.
108 mins
: John Carpenter
Don Jakoby
James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee
: Horror
The final confrontation between good and evil has begun.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Can I ask ya somethin, Padre? When I was kickin your ass back there... you get a little wood?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 30, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 24, 2019
Synopsis: "Forget everything you've ever heard about vampires," warns Jack Crow (James Woods), the leader of Team Crow, a relentless group of mercenary vampire slayers. When Master Vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) decimates Jack's entire team, Crow and the sole team survivor, Montoya (Daniel Baldwin), set out in pursuit. Breaking all the rules, Crow and Montoya take one of Valek's victims hostage – a beautiful but unlucky prostitute (Sheryl Lee). She is the sole psychic link to Valek and they use her to track down the leader of the undead. As Valek nears the climax of his 600-year search for the Berziers Cross, Jack and the new Team Crow do everything possible to prevent him from possessing the only thing that can grant him and all the vampires the omnipotent power to walk the world in daylight.

Vampires (1988)

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