Watched September 14, 2014
Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee.
I was excited when Jen brought this over buried in a stack of VHS as I had wanted to watch it for awhile. I'm not sure why exactly, but I do enjoy John Carpenter and I like most vampire movies. Perhaps I knew that it was filmed in New Mexico, my home state; specifically in and around Santa Fe where I grew up. Anyway we gave it a go and unfortunately I wasn't very impressed.
In broad daylight, a group of men are driving down a desert road in a heavily armored truck. They stop at the one building and begin to set up their tools. It unfolds that this is vampire den, and this is a group of vampire hunters. Led by Jack Crow (James Woods) the men break into the house. It appears empty until they start opening closet doors, then they are attacked by the vampires. They have tons of arrows, guns and stakes which seems like it should be enough to kill these vampires, but these guys take all the precautions. Once the vampire has been thoroughly attacked, they run an arrow through it that is attached to a rope that is attached to one of the trucks. They drag the vampire into the sunlight, where it explodes in fireworks then burns, finally completely destroyed. They do this to all the vampires in the house, collecting the skulls as trophies. Jack is a little concerned when they don't find the master vampire though.
That night they all celebrate at a local motel, there are hookers and booze and the vampire hunters are having a grand time. One of the hookers, Katrina (Sheryl Lee) makes the moves on Jack, but he's not that interested. She heads to her room where she is attacked by the master vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) and he bites her in the vagina. Valek then heads to the party room where he kills all of the vampire hunters and hookers except for Jack and Tony (Daniel Montoya). On their way out, Katrina is wandering dazed in the parking lot. They grab her because they know she has been bitten and has a link to Valek that they can exploit.
Tony gets a hotel room and is instructed by Jack to watch over Katrina as she slowly turns into a vampire. Jack heads to the local church to get some information, something is weird with Valek. He gets a strange answer from the cardinal and is instructed that Father Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee) with help him find the master vampire. Jack is very suspicious of Father Adam who he calls Padre, so he beats him up. Eventually Padre spills the beans about Valek. Valek is the first vampire and he was created when a exorcism wasn't completed which destroyed the human body but left the demon part to walk the earth. Valek is looking for a special cross that will finish the exorcism and give him the power to be in the sunlight.
Using Katrina as the link to Valek, they start driving around waiting for her to get a picture of where he has been. They find out that he has several other vampires with him and he has found the cross. They make it to an old jail during the day and they know that the vampires are hiding in there. Jack, Tony and Padre begin their assault on the jail to kill the vampires, they manage to destroy a couple but Jack is captured by nightfall. Padre manages to hide and Tony had driven off with Katrina, but then Katrina bites him.
Now that it's dark the vampires tie Jack to a pyre, as they need the blood of a crusader to complete the ritual. The Cardinal shows up, it turns out he was on the side of the vampires all along. Luckily Padre was hiding and he shoots the Cardinal before the exorcism can be completed. Tony, even though he's been bitten shows up and saves Jack from being burned. Jack kills Valek as the sun is coming up. Tony is now a vampire, but Jack gives him two days head start since before Jack will come and murder him. Jack and Katrina head off together. It seems like Padre and Jack will keep killing vampires.
There are a lot of montages in this movie, pretty much every action scene is a montage. There is a party montage, multiple vampire death montages, it makes the action very strange. James Woods's character is super weird. When he first beats up Padre he asks him if it give him wood. Then it becomes a running joke, it's really weird and not funny.
When the vampires are exposed to the sun they explode in epic fireworks before they burn, which is pretty cool. I'm pretty sure they hired Sheryl Lee based on her Laura Palmer freak out scenes, when Laura lets the bad demon part of her show. I say this because she only has a couple of lines, she mostly has pained looks on her face as she is becoming a full vampire. I read after the fact that John Carpenter was mostly interested in this movie as a western, not a much focused on the horror aspects. The horror is fine, the western dynamic is there but it's so strange. James Woods just mostly seems like a dick, not an admirable hero. So overall, it was fine but it did nothing for me personally, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and pointing out landmarks that I knew in New Mexico.