In the shadow of its big brother Blade, I’m fairly convinced that Vampires looked better on paper.
Somewhere, Anne Rice is cringing, I’m just certain of it. Much too her probable dismay, the next generation of vamps has hit the rave clubs and donned big guns — not to mention gone commercial. We’ve come a long way since the Louisiana tapestry of vampire lore and mystic legend, where effeminate Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt romp around in long stringy wigs and crisp blue eye contacts (I’m alluding to Interview with the Vampire). Now, the new scene that’s all the rage is the dance floor atop skyscrapers or wide open desert ranges, as we’ll see in this summer’s Blade or in the recent (John Carpenter’s) Vampires.
First, we examine Blade. Stephen Norrington, who came out of nowhere to direct, has made a pretty hip vampire flick. The only other significant thing this guy’s done is the creature effects in Alien 3. I suppose the overall mood, lighting, and film technique wore off on him because we see it again in Blade. That’s a good thing.
What redeems the reputation of Blade‘s production staff is most definitely its writer, David S. Goyer, who wrote the very similar Dark City. The latter was a superb alternative sci-fi with haunting visuals and futurist imagination, akin to the legendary Blade Runner. Both Dark City and Blade have similar motifs: very dark cities. The characters are all dark too, reveling in there hyper-gothic comic book world. Both of Goyer’s stories were surrealist escapades, but the latter was primarily a testosterone pleaser. So is Vampires.
These two night-stalker films intersect only by means of their subject matter.
- a plot to render vampires omnipotent
Bluntly, Blade is a pretty good excuse for lots of pagan hypnotic dance scenes, super high-tech weaponry and gadgets, and vampire incinerations. And yet there’s something alluring about this mythical land. I suppose that’s because I’m a guy. So sue me.
Based on the comic book of the same name, Blade is the name of the lead character, played by Wesley Snipes, one bad night stalker. One hitch however: apparently, it takes one to stalk one. Snipes is half-vampire and takes morbid pleasure in igniting his own kind. Pretty cool. All these make up the basic elements for a cool guy flick though. It’s like a grown-up cops-‘n-robbers without taking itself seriously. That’s where Vampires differs.
- Blade: comic violence detached from reality
- Vampires: indulgent tasteless carnage
- Blade‘s head bad guy vamp: 4’9″ Steven Dorff
- Vampire‘s head bad guy vamp: 6’9″ Thomas Ian Griffith
It’s a novel idea really. The Vatican is in desperate need of help with their war against the vampires’ nests. What’s that you say? “They beseech God for divine intervention?” Well, no, the second best thing I suppose: they hire crossbow-toting mercenaries. And then the fun begins. It’s like the Aliens approach to vampire slaying: go in with heavily armed guys and torch ’em all.
Vampires was based on a novel by John Steakley entitled “Vampire$” (sic) and perhaps that title explains a lot. It’s over the top in just about every way. Where Blade was clearly a new generation of vampire, Vampires is a rabid departure from traditional vampirism (Bram Stoker, Dracula, Anne Rice, and the likes). Says Woods’ character the hero slayer, “Forget about these faggy Euro-trash vampires. That’s just Hollywood.”
On top of all this mess is a very thick film of cheese. Our villain is this huge Marilyn Manson look-a-like who’s cool at first, but then some of his attacks on the good guys turn into a life-sized scene straight from MTV’s Celebrity Death Match. Eechhht. And then there’s the Jerry Bruckheimerish Con Air carbon copies — not just once, but twice! — of the bad-dudes-makin-a-prison-break scene (you know, where they’re all walking along the horizon toward the camera?). Then I couldn’t decide which of Mr. Woods’ sidekicks bugged me the most: Daniel Baldwin (Alec sound-alike) or the newby priest who trades his collar for a shotgun.
I’m fairly convinced that Vampires looked much better on paper. Blade won this battle, hands down.