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March 6, 2011

Supremely Cheesy Cinema, Vol. 3: Vampires: Los Muertos

Look, I'm not here to tell you how to live your life.  I suggest, that's it.  But seriously you guys - if you haven't experienced a direct to video sequel to a John Carpenter film that stars JON FREAKIN' BON JOVI, you might not be living your life to the fullest.  Luckily for you, Netflix Instant is streaming Vampires: Los Muertos for your viewing pleasure RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW.

I could tell you that I myself just discovered Vampires Los Muertos...but I'd be lying.  I could tell you that I blind bought the DVD of Vampires: Los Muertos the day it came out...but I'd be showing how lame I can be.  You know I did blind buy the DVD the day it came out, and that's awesome.  And I'm gonna tell you why. 
JBJ (as I like to call him, we're tight) stars as Derek Bliss, a no nonsense vampire hunter who keeps his vampire killing tools in a surfboard in the back of his beaten up Jeep.  Far from New Jersey, he's commissioned to form a team of vampire killers to help protect the Berziers Cross (one of our few ties to the first film) in a Mexican convent.  The men he's supposed to be hiring seem to all be killed off just before Derek arrives to hire them, which leaves him to form his own patchwork unit of assistants.

His results are mildly comical.  He's joined by a buff priest who is the only survivor of a massacre (played by Cristian de la Fuente, who went on to dance with the stars), a young woman who has been vamped but has a miracle drug that keeps her human (Natasha Gregson Wagner, who was like EVERYWHERE at the turn of the millennium), and an ambitious teenager (Diego Luna, who went on to be in stuff like the awesome swindler flick Criminal).  Oh, and later they're joined by a tough guy vampire killer armed with wooden shotgun slugs...played by Eddie Winslow himself, Darius McCrary.  The brother Winslow adds a large amount of humor to the film - which is most likely unintentional - all the way through his final line which refers back to one of the film's strangest scenes.
The female vampire mastermind that Derek and his team have to deal with is played by Arly Jover, who looks kind of like that lady from The Cranberries and is most known for also playing a vampire in Blade.  She doesn't talk much, nor do her vampire friends which include a bunch of middle-aged Mexican guys and one strangely Twilight-lookin' vamp with blonde pointy hair.  Still, she seems to always be one step ahead of Mr. Bon J and crew, probably because she apparently has the ability to slow down time while Derek is doing things like throwing a paper towel across a diner's restroom. (And what kind of diner puts the trash can on the opposite side of the room from the paper towel dispenser anyway?)

Though Carpenter himself was barely involved in the film, it doesn't fall too far from his tree.  Tommy Lee Wallace, who has been working with Carpenter since film school (and who directed Halloween III), wrote and directed the film, and does an adequate job with what he has available.  There's some real talent involved in the film, too, with composer Brian Tyler offering a great score and cinematographer Henner Hoffman doing a good job framing the action.  The notorious Misters Kurtzman, Nicotero, and Berger were involved in the film as well, and the effects are on par with Carpenter's preceding film.
But the problem is that Vampires Los Muertos is trying to be really serious about its silly plot...all while it's offering us Jon Bon Jovi, Eddie Winslow, and a "priest" whose bulging biceps are the size of a graboid.  I mean, it's bad enough that the plot is all over the place and that I'm never quite sure whether the Breziers Cross or the experimental anti-vamp drug is the plot device that our head vampiress is after, but then the film expects me to really feel that Jon Bon Jovi can't take out an emo lookin' vampire chick?  As if.

I know Vampires Los Muertos is mostly a piece of crap, but I can't help kind of loving it.  JBJ runs around with a wooden stake gun, Eddie Winslow decapitates vamps in a public place, and the final battle prominently features a souped up El Camino of Doom.  (My first car and first love was an El Camino, and if you dare speak ill of the fantastic Camino I WILL have Ivan Drago break you.  I miss you, Jenny.)  There are more plot holes and leaps of faith and overdramatic Jon Bon stares than you can shake a stick at, but I sure can't get enough of this silly sequel.
Maybe I'm livin' on a prayer, but Vampires Los Muertos is certainly one of my guiltiest pleasures.  If lovin' a movie like this is wrong, I guess I give love a bad name.  Go to Instant Netflix, enjoy its silly badness, stare at JBJ as he stares at the camera, find out which of our leads gets to say "Boss, you ain't lived till you got head from a vampire", and bask in all that is Vampires Los Muertos. You'll thank me later.  (Or you'll hate me.  But that's a risk I'm willing to take in the name of Jon Bon Jovi and El Caminos.)

(Final Note: A third film, Vampires: The Turning was released in 2005...but it lacks both Carpenter's name AND Bon Jovi!  Sounds like some bad medicine to me!)
R.I.P. Jenny  (1979-2001).


R.D. Penning said...

Hilarious Movie!

JohnBem said...

Thanks for an awesome review that had me laughing out loud at places. Not so sure though that I'll be able to bring my self to watch the movie. I also dig El Caminos and I always will be grateful to one Michael Kelso (That '70s Show) for teaching me that 'El Camino' is Spanish for 'the Camino'.

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