John Carpenter's Vampires took you to the edge of terror…now get ready to cross the border.
Not so much a sequel as a separate story, Vampires: Los Muertos follows a group of gritty vampire killers as they roam from town to town…uh, well, killing vampires. Through the dry lands of Mexico they search for their prey: of one of those nasty "master" vampires that always seem to cause us humans so much grief. In this case it's Una (Arly Jover, Blade), a vengeful blood sucker who sports a see-through mesh nightie and looks eerily like the evil version of new age singer Enya. The group of hunters includes the following mish-mash of eclectic personalities: the good looking leader Derek Bliss (Jon Bon Jovi, U-571); the also good looking priest Father Rodrigo (Christian De La Fuente, TV's Family Law); Zoey (Natasha Gregson Wagner, High Fidelity), a woman who has been bitten by a vampire yet is about to stay somewhat human due to experimental drugs; the rough and tumble Ray Collins (Darius McCrary, TV's Family Matters); and the young Lupe (Anilu Pardo), a boy who dreams of one day meeting a nice woman, settling down, and maybe killing a vampire or two. Together these five will battle the forces of the undead until they finally put an end to the terror that is straight-to-video sequels!
I wasn't thrilled with John Carpenter's Vampires when I saw it in the theaters, so I had little hope for becoming a fan of this lackluster sequel. Am I the only one who thinks the whole vampire/desert thing has been sucked completely dry? Near Dark. From Dusk Till Dawn. The Forsaken. Yo, Hollywood…we got it already! Enough with the vampires in the middle of nowhere theme! Vampires: Los Muertos offers nothing new to the genre, save for the fact that this is officially Jon Bon Jovi's first foray into the world of cinematic horror (somehow he skated through the world of hair-band horror and bafflingly survived that debacle). The film was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (and executive produced by a most likely absent John Carpenter), and my guess is that he's still smarting from the often lambasted Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, the ONLY flick in the series to not include requisite centerpiece Michael Myers. While Wallace's direction is apt, it can't overcome the banality of his script—the thing just moves nowhere, and fast. The hunters talk a lot about killing vampires, then they kill one, then they get in their car and start talking about killing more vampires. As you can see it's all very redundant. At least the special effects are of the genuine brand—from what I noticed hardly a CGI was utilized in this flick (or it could have been it was so well done and subtle that I just missed it…). The action scenes are well executed, but lack any real punch or excitement. As for the actors, the best is (unbelievably!) Darius McCrary as a wisecracking hunter, while the worst—by much more than a landslide—is Natasha Gregson Wagner. Holy crap on a cracker, who let this woman act on celluloid? While Miss Wagner may have some hefty Hollywood genes—she's the daughter of Natalie Wood and the stepdaughter of Robert Wagner—she has a lot to learn about the fine art of acting (and you've gotta be pretty stinky to stick out this bad in a direct-to-video horror sequel…). Stiff as a plank of wood and far less interesting, Wagner becomes a larger hole in an already sinking ship. As for Bon Jovi…well, let's just say that if you have a choice between spinning this disc and his "Slippery When Wet" album…stick with the '80s tunes.
Vampires: Los Muertos is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Columbia has done a great job on this transfer—sporting solid colors and black levels, this is a fine looking image. While a few imperfections exist (especially a smattering of edge enhancement), overall the good far outweighs the bad. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is good, if a bit underwhelming. There are some fun directional sounds to be found here, though this is a mostly front heavy sound mix with the rear speakers being used for ambient sounds and a few scattered effects. Also included on this disc are English, French, Chinese, Thai, and Korean subtitles. Only two extras have been added to this DVD: a rather boring commentary track by director Tommy Lee Wallace (lots of silent gaps and a monosyllabic voice make Judge Naugle go sleepy-sleepy) and a few theatrical trailers for the films Vampires: Los Muertos, John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Vampires: Los Muertos isn't the worst sequel in horror history, though if you're looking for a really good John Carpenter horror movie, you've come to the wrong place.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary by Director Tommy Lee Wallace
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