Film / John Carpenter's Vampires

John Carpenter's Vampires is a 1998 film by John Carpenter loosely based on the novel Vampires. It is about a group of vampire hunters out to prevent the original master vampire from getting the black cross which will allow him to walk in the sunlight.

It has two direct-to-DVD sequels, Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) and Vampires: The Turning (2005).

This film provides examples of:

  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Katrina enters a motel room unaware that Valek is waiting for her on the ceiling. She's terrified when he descends on her, but afterward she's shaking in ecstasy as he feeds between her legs.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: During Valek's massacre at the motel, he grabs one of the hookers to have her soak up some bullets. Subverted in that he's not even doing this for protection but purely out of sadism, as he's actually immune to gunfire.
  • Canis Latinicus: While mocking the myths of vampire hunting, Jack says that if you try and ward a vampire off with garlic, he will take a walk up your "strata chocolata" whilst sucking your blood. This is dog Latin for "Hershey highway".
  • Ceiling Cling: Master vampire Valek does this before attacking Katrina.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Granted, it's hard to imagine another branch of Christianity with the money, connections, or influence to secretly fund and equip teams of vampire hunters around the world.
  • Church Militant: The vampire hunting teams were sponsored by the Catholic Church.
  • Clean Cut: Valek slices somebody in half vertically using his hand.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The vampire hunters are all funded by the Catholic Church, so they can collectively be called a single organization.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Played straight with the prostitutes at the motel whom Valek slaughters. Subverted with the one Valek actually feeds on; he doesn't finish her off and she becomes the heroes' main connection to tracking him down. She could also have been The Mole, due to Valek's influence over her.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Valek and the rest of vampires.
  • Evil Overlooker: On the posters Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: The Catholic Church funds and controls paramilitary squads of vampire hunters all over the world.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The first vampire Valek was a priest in medieval Prague who led a peasant revolt. When he was captured, the church thought he was possessed and performed an exorcism for him. Because he wasn't possessed however, instead of driving out a demon from him, the exorcism PUT ONE in him, turning him in the first vampire.
  • Gorn: Special mention given to the fountain filled with monks' blood.
  • Heal It with Fire: Montoya does this pretty much every time he's wounded, once with a lighter, and once by firing his sub-machine gun into the air then holding the hot barrel to the wound.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Jack Crow is never seen without his leather jacket.
  • Immortality Seeker: An interesting variation with vampire lord Valek, who is already immortal and has walked the earth for centuries. However, he can still be destroyed by sunlight. Acquiring the Berzier Cross (and completing the original ritual) will make him truly invulnerable and achieve something close to Complete Immortality. Also, Cardinal Alba's reason for allying with Valek.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jack Crow does this to Father Adam in order to know what Valek and his minions are searching.
  • Jerkass: Jack Crow is very aggressive and violent to the second priest of his team. Justified in that he recently witnessed most of his original team being slaughtered by Valek and that second priest was withholding information. He later becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The prostitute bitten by the Master vampire certainly seems to be enjoying herself when Valek is between her legs.
  • Mercy Lead: At the end of the film, Jack gives his friend Montoya a two day head start after learning he was bitten earlier in the film and is slowly turning.
  • Monster Progenitor: Valek is the first vampire, accidentally created during a botched exorcism. He is the strongest, as the only thing that can hurt him is sunlight. He lacks every other vampire weakness. His goal in the movie is to complete the exorcism in order to become truly immortal. This would also allow him to make other vampires without weaknesses.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are feral monsters that bleed black blood and can take a stake to the skull with no ill effect. Vampires while feral seem to be sentient though, especially Valek.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: The vampire hunters throw one after killing a group of vampires. Then Valek pays an unexpected visit and starts a massacre.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Jack Crow is sexist.
  • Private Military Contractors: The vampire hunters are professional mercenaries hired by the Vatican (as in the original Swiss Guard).
  • Rated M for Manly: Gore and scantily clad women are common in this movie.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: Valek at one point uses his bare hand to first jam it into a human's chest, then swings the arm in an upward motion to completely rip the poor victim in half.
  • Spiteful Spit: Jack Crow does this to Cardinal Alba after he reveals himself as an ally to Valek.
  • Staking the Loved One: Crow killed his own father after he turned into a vampire.
  • Transhuman Treachery:
    • Cardinal Alba has secretly joined with Valek in order to become immortal.
    • Likewise the hooker who Valek bit. Through the film she's slowly turning, losing more and more of her humanity. Eventually during the botch raid, she fully turns and feeds on Montoya. Before walking back to the town to join Valek's group
  • Unflinching Walk: Jack Crow does one when he blows up a building to bury the evidence of a vampire massacre.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Vampires don't suck blood so much as tear a hole in your carotid and lap at the fountain.
  • Your Vampires Suck: The movie makes fun of anything but stakes and sunlight working against the undead.
  • Zombie Infectee: Montoya hides his own vampire bite. His subterfuge does not really matter, as he gets bitten again later in a less discreet place.

Vampires: Los Muertos provides examples of:

  • Super Speed: Una is able to kill a whole diner full of people by the time it takes for a paper towel thrown by Bliss to land in a bin.

Vampires: The Turning provides examples of:

Alternative Title(s): Vampires Los Muertos, Vampires