Campy, violent, silly, gory and fun… that was John Carpenter’s Vampires. A 1998 Neo-Western action horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter and starring James Woods. This 2002 sequel is none of those things. A movie that takes itself way to seriously, has a middling plot that borrows heavily from the first film and stars Jon Bon Jovi. The horror indeed.
Derek Bliss (Jovi), yes that is his name, is a vampire hunter and we’re introduced to him as he takes down one of the fanged baddies. Back at his hotel room, he is contacted by his bosses and told of a new job. So he heads to Mexico City to meet with a group of priests.
Derek is given a list of vampire hunters to contact so he can create a team but each one he comes to is already dead. It’s when he visits a diner and meets Zoey (Natasha Gregson Wagner) that things really start to go off the rails. She is a vampire but capable of keeping the infection at bay by taking special pills given to her in Mexico City. That convenience is enough for Derek to agree to team with her and the pair head back to the priests.
Once there, they find them all slaughtered aside from Father Rodrigo (Cristián de la Fuente) who managed to hide from the attacking vampires. He tells Derek that the master of this group, Una (Arly Jover) is after the legendary Béziers Cross. The same cross used unsuccessfully in the first film used to perform a ritual that will enable vampires to walk in daylight and be invulnerable. Here we go again…
Derek, Zoey, Father Rodrigo, a local teen that helped Derek called Sancho (Diego Luna), and Memphis hunter Ray Collins (Darius McCrary) must now stop the vampire.
It’s disappointing to see Vampires: Los Muertos take the same bland cross idea. Running with that instead of coming up with something new. It plays out in similar fashion but with a less captivating cast. Or enough deviations off the road to be interesting.
Talking of cast… let’s start with the rock star himself. The expectation is that he will be terrible, he has been terrible in other movies. Happily, he’s not here. Jon Bon Jovi turns in a believable performance with enough swagger to buy into his vampire hunter character. However, he simply pales in comparison to James Woods’ over the top performance in the first film. It’s a muted but sensible performance from Jovi. Compared to some of the others in this film, he is turning in Oscar worthy stuff.
Wagner delivers her lines with almost no enthusiasm and her character is utterly forgettable. A literal plot device, everything about her is there to move the story on. From her vampirism allowing her to link. To her pills that allow her to stay human and her eventual battle with this when the drugs go missing. It’s lazy as hell and aside from the pills, is far too much of a convenient call back to Sheryl Lee’s Katrina in the first film.
The only other character and actor worth mentioning is Arly Jover’s Una. Given the position of being the ‘big bad’ this time around, she also had big shoes to fill.
Thomas Ian Griffith’s Valek was way too much fun and unfortunately, she isn’t. It’s a shame though as her initial introduction is badass. Slaughtering an entire diner full of people in the time it takes Derek to throw a used paper towel in the bin. After that though, she’s bland and unfocused. Seemingly so powerful yet unable to just kill Derek and his hapless group.
It was a big ask to create a fulfilling sequel to such an absurd slice of late 90’s horror in Vampires. One that turned out to be too much, it seems. Not a terrible film by any standards, the occasional high points can’t outweigh the many low.
Vampires: Los Muertos
The Final Score - 5/10