I was puzzled by the low rating "Vampires" got, it's my favorite movie of
1998/99. Why do I give the date in that manner? I was (un)fortunate enough
to see this movie in the uncut version (as shown in France), in the US
version and just a few weeks ago in the German one.
But first things first -- I am female and I have read so many reviews and comments telling me, that I, as a woman, should feel disgust at the alleged misogynous undertone of "Vampires". I am sorry, but in none of the three versions I saw did I feel, hear or see anything which might support this allegation! Crow hated practically everyone except for Montoya and the first priest, Montoya -- while quipping left and right -- behaved quite kindly towards Lee's hooker except where she directly caused him to react violently and none of the other oneliners warrant, IMO, even a raised eyebrow regarding that special topic.
Let me add that I also am not religious, with my own perceptive view of enough past wrongs done by the Catholic church, so that any of the soi-disant "hate" directed at that church is in my opinion well-founded given the plot. Callan's explanation of how he views god, as well as several other references by Crow and Montoya underline the basic belief of the vampire hunters while maintaining their no-nonsense attitude.
With that back to why I liked the movie so much: it is in its own way as stark and streamlined as the best samples of its genre; the cinematography is just perfect with the right mixture of visual and non-visual storytelling; the dialogue is engagingly humorous throughout, feels real and allows each character his or her own voice; there are several deeply moving scenes, either visually or characterwise moving, which will stay with the audience; there are enough novelties incorporated to make this rendition of the vampire theme fresh and quite frankly, I liked Carpenter's score a lot too.
What wins me completely over is the very obvious fun all the actors had with their roles. James Woods was perfect as sardonic, illusion-free Crow and his brushing "campiness" with the tip of a finger, yet withdrawing just in time, is priceless. Daniel Baldwin makes the most of his character's arc, nicely underplaying his role, while he still manages to convey Montoya's journey by minimal changes of expression or voice. The final scene couldn't have been done any better. Sheryl Lee gives what I consider one of the strongest supports I've seen in quite a few years, whether by male or female actors, especially when you count in the scarcity of means she's handed over. Ian Griffith had several fine moments and the entire supporting cast was refreshing in their non-Hollywoody realistic, natural look and acting. The overall impression was of people enjoying what they're expertly doing.
An advice to the German audience, I noted while watching the dubbed release that the translation killed practically every single punch line and nearly all of the humor. And it *could* have been translated properly. The voice actors dubbing for Woods and Baldwin did so without recreating even a tenth of what both actors put into their voices in the original version. I do think that some of the disappointment expressed there is due the extremely low quality of the translation and dubbing. See the movie in its original language. I also can't see any reason for the loss of those scenes which were cut out of the US release when compared to the French one. The movie loses quite some strength this way.
The church has long known that vampires exist. However, it is discovered that a group of vampires are searching for a powerful doom for mankind. The Vatican then secretly enlists a team of vampire-hunters, led by Jack Crow, to hunt down and destroy the vampires before they find the crucifix.
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