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Film / John Carpenter's Vampires

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John Carpenter's Vampires is a 1998 Action Horror film by John Carpenter and starring James Woods and Daniel Baldwin, loosely based on the novel Vampires. It is about a group of vampire hunters out to prevent the original master vampire from getting the Cross of Berziers which will allow him to walk in the sunlight.

It has two direct-to-DVD sequels,

  • Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) starring Jon Bon Jovi as an out of his league vampire hunter. He's tasked with assembling a crack-team to go on the hunt of a deadly "Master" in the heart of rural Mexico, the only problem is everybody he's meant to recruit is killed before he can get to them.

  • Vampires: The Turning (2005) while visiting Thailand Connor's girlfriend get's kidnapped by a gang of motorbike-riding vampires. Spurned by the local police Connor get's caught up in a three-way war between the villain vampires (jai tham), the good non-human feeding vampires (song neng) and the human vampire hunters.


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    John Carpenter's Vampires 

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: The Big Bad vampire cuts a human cleanly in two with just his claws.
  • Adapted Out: Annabelle, Carl, and Felix do not appear in the movie.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Montoya is bitten by Katrina and turns into a vampire himself.
  • Anti-Hero: Jack Crow. He's a Vampire Hunter, but he is also violent, misogynistic, and ruthless.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Cardinal Alba mentions he doubts the existence of God and heaven which seems a bit odd given he's secretly in league with a 600 year old vampire turned by a failed exorcism.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The Medieval Catholic Church would have no reason to perform an exorcism on a heretic like Jon Valek; they would have just executed him.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Other than sunlight, the only way to kill a vampire for good is to drive a stake through its heart.
  • Ax-Crazy: Valek thoroughly enjoys killing humans and feasting on their blood.
  • Badass Normal: Considering what they do for a living, all of the vampire hunters qualify. Father Guiteau especially counts, as he's basically an archivist when the movie begins, and turns into a Badass Bookworm by the end.
  • Big Bad: Valek, the original vampire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Valek is prevented from getting the cross and is killed. But Montoya is bitten and on the verge of turning despite having helped in the final battle. Jack however gives him as well as Katrina, a merciful two day lead before he comes after him out of respect for their friendship (as well as a code that they have among vampire hunters) before giving him a tearful goodbye hug. Adam becomes Jack's new partner as they go hunting Valek's remaining minions.
  • Book Ends: In the beginning of the second act, Jack messes with Padre by asking if he got sexually aroused while Jack was beating him up. Padre, naturally, is humiliated by the question. The last lines of the movie are Jack asking the same question regarding Padre killing a vampire. This time, Padre joins in on the joke.
  • 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 sex workers 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.
  • Butt-Monkey: Father Adam Guiteau receives frequent beatings and verbal abuse from Jack, and is used as bait for a Master because he never learned to drive. He grows out of it eventually, though.
  • 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".
  • Canon Foreigner: Tony Montoya, Katrina, and Cardinal Alba do not appear in the book...which also makes no mention of the Black Cross of Berziers.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Played with where Father Guiteau puts himself in this scenario to save Jack. He shoots Cardinal and, when Valek demands Guiteau do the ritual insteadnote , he puts the gun to his own head with one hell of a Badass Boast:
    Guiteau: Try and make me!
    Jack: Attaboy, Padre! Fuck with him!
  • 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.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Jack would make a sailor blush with his incessant swearing. Montoya swears a lot too, but it's nothing compared to Jack's potty mouth.
  • Complete Immortality: Valek wants to use the Cross of Berzier to become immune to sunlight, effectively achieving this. And that wouldn't be good.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Catholic Church is to blame for Valek's vampirism, and by extension, for the existence of vampires as a whole. See Gone Horribly Wrong below.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The vampire hunters are all funded by the Catholic Church, so they can collectively be called a single organization.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the movie, "Cat" Catlin is slain by Valek while partying at the motel. In the book, Catlin survives to join "Team Felix".
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Just bursting into flames isn't enough of a sendoff for Valek; he flat out explodes.
  • Determinator: Valek. Not only is he able to catch up with Jack and Montoya after they escape the motel massacre, but he stays to try and get the Cross of Berzier back from Jack after when the sun has risen and all his goons and even the Masters have fled to the prison.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Played straight with the prostitutes at the motel whom Valek slaughters (although some of them are seen escaping in the background). Subverted with Katrina, 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.
  • Disposable Woman: Katrina seems to be largely viewed this way for most of the film. Being bitten by Valek means that she will inevitably turn into a vampire herself. The two main hunters: Jack and Montoya, don't seem to view her plight with any sympathy, despite the fact that Katrina is an innocent victim. Both men are repeatedly verbally and physically abusive with her. She is kept alive solely because of her value in hunting down Valek.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Valek and the rest of vampires.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Father Adam Guiteau's name is mentioned exactly once in the movie, when he's being introduced. Jack never calls him anything but Padre, which of course is Gratuitous Spanish for his vocation.
  • Evil Overlooker: On the posters Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
  • Fanservice Extra: Several of the uncredited motel sex workers, including a few who get topless.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: The Catholic Church funds and controls paramilitary squads of vampire hunters all over the world. Mind you it's not the first time the Vatican has employed mercenaries.
  • 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. However, the priest at the time used a banned "inverse exorcism", killing his body but trapping the possessed soul behind in the now undead corpse.
  • Gorn: Special mention given to the fountain filled with monks' blood.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Jack usually refers to the team priest as "Padre".
  • Heal It With Fire: Montoya does this pretty much every time he's wounded by a vampire, once with a lighter, and once by firing his sub-machine gun into the air then holding the hot barrel to the wound. this cauterises his wound but does not stop the spread of vampirism.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Jack Crow is never seen without his leather jacket.
  • Heroic BSoD: Valek muses to Jack "what will silence you?" Seeing Katrina, fully vamped out and having clearly fed off Montoya seems to be what finally breaks him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A monk running with a torch to use against vampires trips over another monk and sets himself on fire.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Averted. Jack makes a point of telling Father Adam that crosses do nothing against vampires.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Katrina, at least before she turns into a vampire. And even then, she still appears to be genuinely in love with Montoya.
  • 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.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: John Carpenter's Vampires.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jack Crow does this to Father Adam in order to know what Valek and his minions are searching for.
  • 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. It's less justifiable in the case of Katrina: who was bitten by Valek and is inevitably descending into vampirism over the course of the film. Jack treats her with nothing but contempt throughout the film and views her as little more than a pawn by which to track down Valek. Jack's partner, Montoya, displays similar behaviour
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Katrina, the prostitute bitten by the Master vampire certainly seems to be enjoying herself when Valek is between her legs. Later, when Katrina bites Montoya, he pulls her back to his neck and certainly looks happy when she sucks his blood again.
  • Large Ham: Thomas Ian Griffith is having a blast playing Valek, who tends to roar a lot, and hisses his dialogue with utter glee.
  • MacGuffin: The holy relic the vampire lord Valek is searching in order to become immune to sunlight.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Every male character is shown as an action-oriented vampire hunter, even the men killed in the opening sequence against the vampires in the house. Even Adam Guiteau, the replacement priest, has an opportunity to be strong and heroic in the final showdown. In comparison, the women are sex workers who die in their introductory scene and the only woman who becomes a main character, Katrina, is seen tied to a bed and a car's seat, shivering on the floor, or staggering down the road trying to keep pace with Crow and Montoya. She is repeatedly subjected to violence by the male protagonists of the film. It is only when women become vampires (and thus, presumably lose the sexual appeal they had) that they are allowed to move beyond passivity and into fighting.
  • 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.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the book, the vampires' Grandmaster had no name. In the movie, he is named Jan Valek. The novel names Father Adam, but only the film gives him a last name.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Averted. Valek's death does not kill or cure any remaining vampires.
  • No-Sell: Valek is immune to everything that would normally kill a vampire except sunlight. He doesn't even get knocked back by bullets, which other vampires were shown to be susceptible to.
  • 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, displaying little sympathy for Katrina: a sex worker who is slowly and inevitably turning into a vampire. He also uses a homophobic slur in his Your Vampires Suck speech.
  • 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.
  • Red Shirt Army: Most of Jack's crew, who get a couple lines of dialogue, a scene fighting and maybe names before the motel massacre.
  • Sadistic Choice: After Father Adam kills Cardinal Alba, Valek insists that he finish the ritual instead. After Adam refuses, Valek holds a torch to a crucified Jack. Not much of a threat, though, considering the ritual would require his burning anyway.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: As the sun rises, most of the vampires flee back to the prison. The ending implies that Jack and Guiteau are about to finish them off.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Jack Crow. Half of his dialogue consists on "fuck" or some variation of the word.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: There are no good vampires. None. Valek is the only one who even bothers to talk to anyone while the rest are savage, ravenous monsters.
  • Spiteful Spit: Jack Crow does this to Cardinal Alba after he reveals himself as an ally to Valek.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Jack Crow was turned into a vampire and Father Adam Guiteau was killed by Valek in the novel, but here they make it through the whole film.
  • Staking the Loved One: Crow killed his own father after he turned into a vampire. By the end of the film, he vows to hunt down the infected Montoya and finish him as well.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Veteran vampire hunters, take note. When you are aware a vengeful master vampire is still hunting you, getting drunk as hell with prostitutes and keeping few weapons close at hand can end in a very, very gruesome manner. The prostitutes can qualify as well. Even though they may not know Valek is a vampire, there are at least two who run straight at him despite the fact he is the one murdering everybody in the motel.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Padre, who goes from meek and timid at the beginning of the movie to holding a shotgun to his head so he won't be used by the Big Bad. He even manages to kill a Master Vampire single-handed.
  • Transhuman Treachery:
    • Cardinal Alba has secretly joined with Valek in order to become immortal.
    • Likewise with Katrina, who is bitten by Valek during the motel massacre. Through the film she's slowly turning, losing more and more of her humanity. Eventually during the botched 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.
  • Vampire Hunter: Jack Crow leads a group of vampire hunters who are on the payroll of the catholic church. They're pretty effective at it until they receive a visit from the Master Vampire Jan Valek, who is far stronger than anything they have ever dealt with, so quickly wipes out everyone but Crow and his best friend. And they only survived because they weren't in the room when the carnage began.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Whenever the Church receives reports of of vampiric activity, they dispatch Vampire Hunter squads such as the one led by Jack Crow.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Montoya knocks Katrina out cold with a backhanded blow to the face.
  • 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 
  • Almost Kiss: Between Zoe and Una. Before Zoe escapes.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Zoe who was intimate with a man who turned her vampire, is attracted to Bliss and shares some onscreen Les Yay with Una.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: When Sancho asks what is Derek Bliss before entering the cathedral.
    Derek Bliss: I'm the Lone Ranger.
    Sancho: Then I'm Tonto, 'cause I'm going too.
  • Bigot with a Crush: Vampire hunter Derek Bliss becomes attracted to Zoe and is disappointed when he discovered she is a daywalking vampire.
  • Chill of Undeath: Shows the vampire's body as being blue through a heat-sensing goggles-type thing.
  • Book Ends: In the earlier portions of the movie, Derek Bliss rants how his superiors task him to go after the vampiress when he was supposed to go surfing in San Diego. In the end, after the villainess has been killed, Derek and Zoe travel to San Diego.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Una is killed.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: How Ray is turned by Una.
  • Casual Kink: The male vampire who seduced and bit Zoe in the past. Bit her neck during intercourse, drew blood and licked it up. It freaked Zoe out. Zoe thought the guy had this.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The blood donations. Derek uses it to replace his blood with Zoe's vampire blood to gain insight on the enemy Una.
    • The cable wires hooked up to the car. Derek and Zoe use them to pull Una into the sunlight.
  • Cool Guns: Derek Bliss' custom spike gun.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Zoe thanks to her pills. Una, briefly, after she steals Zoe's pills.
  • Damsel in Distress: Zoe, when she gets kidnapped by a daywalking Una.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: see Book Ends above.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Or enemy vampire takes all of your daywalking medication in this case.
  • Evil Overlooker: Una is pictured in the film's poster overlooking the group of vampire hunting heroes.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The vampiress Una. Apparently all the masters vampires are this.
  • Genre Blindness: Despite being a vampire hunter, Ray isn't suspicious at all when a mysterious woman comes on to him during his guard shift at night.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Several points throughout the film.
    • Una slashes all the throats of the customers and the employees in the diner, save for Bliss who was in the bathroom at that time. When Derek comes out of the bathroom, he is greeted by sight of the victims still clutching their bleeding wounds. One of the waitresses manages to ring the police alarm before collapsing due to blood loss.
    • Derek Bliss finds a person who committed suicide by way of blowing his head off with a shotgun. The congealed blood is splattered on the nearby wall.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Padre sacrifices himself, offering himself to Una in exchange for Zoe and his friend's lives to be safe. Later, a bunch of civilians donate their blood to Zoe to keep her alive and prevent her from turning.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Zoe is actually a vampiress hunting down evil vampires.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Derek's reaction when injected with Zoe's vampire blood.
    Zoe: Why do you think people get hooked on drugs?
    Derek Bliss: I didn't know it would be this good.
  • I Call It "Vera": Ray calls his shotgun "Miss P".
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The climax of the film occurs on the titular Day of the Dead (Di­a de los Muertos).
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Derek's primary weapon is a katana which he keeps hidden in a surfboard.
  • Kid Sidekick: Sancho who is almost 16.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Ray enjoys one from Una as she goes down on him. Zoe momentarily liked being licked on her neck bite mark by Una.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Brief hint of it where the two female leads (both technically vampires) have an exotic moment leading to an almost kiss.
  • The Mole: Ray becomes one after Una seduces him to Zoe's pills, causing Una to be immune to the sunlight's effects.
  • Most Definitely Not Accompanying Us: Sancho is given 20 bucks and told to go home. Later he is found hiding in a tree outside of a massacred monastery. He's followed the main-character on his dirt bike and has a letter of recommendation from his mother.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Jon Bon Jovi is the leading man of the film.
  • Oh, Crap!: Zoe, when she realizes her daywalking medication is gone.
  • Out with a Bang:
    • Narrowly averted with Zoe, who was bitten in the neck by a vampire during sex but survived.
    • Subverted with Ray who is seduced and bitten by Una but survives only to become a vampire and a mole to Una.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Vampire-turned Ray apologizes to Bliss for "fucking up" (i.e. stealing Zoe's pills and giving it to Una). While Bliss accepts his apology, he stabs a stake through his heart to end Ray's misery.
  • The Renfield: Darius becomes a thrall to the vampire, making him steal Zoe's pills.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: An alternative way to kill vampires besides the tradition stake-to-the-heart method. See Boom, Headshot! above.
  • Riding into the Sunset: After the battle with Una the vampire princess, Derek and Zoe ride off towards the sunset on their way to San Diego.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Ray Collins is armed with a shotgun with custom-made 12 gauge slugs meant to instantly kill vampires. After Ray's death, Derek takes the weapon and uses it to blow Una's head off.
  • Shout-Out: Derek Bliss' surfboard armory of anti-vampire weaponry is a direct nod to Desperado.
  • South of the Border: Takes place in Mexico.
  • 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.
  • The Undead: Well, it's a vampire movie after all.

    Vampires: The Turning 
  • The Atoner: Sang, for unintentionally siring the jai tham vampires.
  • Betty and Veronica: Amanda and Sang respectively for Connor. The former is his actual girlfriend who was captured by the Big Bad and the other is a sexy female vampire whom he falls in love with over the course of the movie.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The reason the vampire hunters double cross the heroes is if Sang ended the curse they'd be out of business.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: All the vampires and our lead hero know Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) which relies on the use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins to attack and block.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: The movie takes place entirely on Thailand and follows a Muay Thai fighter and his girlfriend vacationing there.
  • Impressed by the Civilian: Father Adam Guiteau is just an analyst of the Vatican and Jack Crow is quite unimpressed with him, especially because he keeps information on Valek (the Master Vampire Crow is hunting) secret until Crow literally beats it out of him. However in the final act the Padre finally is accepted by Crow when he helps kill some of Valek's goon vampires at great risk to his life and threatens to blow his own brains out with a shotgun to prevent Valek from fulfilling a ritual which would make him immune to sunlight (the ritual requires a Catholic priest and Guiteau had just blown away the one in league with Valek with said shotgun).
  • In Name Only: This third entry in the series has no relation whatsoever with previous movies.
  • I Will Find You: The driving force of the film is Connor's relentless search to find his missing girlfriend despite everybody telling him to forget it and go home.
  • Martial Arts Movie: The
  • Mighty Whitey: Downplayed for most of the film where Connor is a hapless tourist (while good fighting skills) that needs saving but come the end of the film chooses to become turned, fights better than all the other vampires, defeats the Big Bad and saves the day after literally all the other song neng die.
  • Only in It for the Money: The local vampire hunters are driven mostly by monetary gain rather than personal reasons or any sense of justice like previous slayers. At the end, they double cross the heroes and attempt to prevent them from ending the curse so they wouldn't be out of the vampire business.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: There are two types of them in the movie - the good phi song neng vs the evil jai tham. They don't appear to be related to Valek and other vampires in any way.
  • Police Are Useless: The Thailand police treat the fact that Connor's girlfriend has been kidnapped like it's a lover's quarrel and tell him to go away, wait for two days, and then file a report. Up to the viewer to decide if they know about the rampant vampire population in town or they're just incompetent.
  • Race Against the Clock: Connor must slay the vampire lord before his girlfriend is turned.
  • Warrior Monk: The Song Neng who live in a monastery. The main one looks a lot like a traditional Shaolin monk.

Alternative Title(s): Vampires, Vampires Los Muertos, Vampires The Turning