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DVD REVIEW:  Vampires: Los Muertos

Did you hear? Jon Bon Jovi made a vampire film. That’s right, a vampire film; a John Carpenter bloodsucker movie to be exact. Now, before you burst out laughing, let me tell you that it’s really no laughing matter. Actually, it’s far from being even remotely humorous. Especially when you consider that Jon is the best part about this film. Yes, I’m serious. The New Jersey ex-cock rocker with the Superman tattoo and a heart of gold is actually the most redeeming part of the 2002 JC movie spin-off VAMPIRES: LOS MUERTOS.

Considering that he’s most at home these days crooning on stage to a rabid pack of aging housewives, I was rather impressed by his acting chops…or maybe it was just how truly wretched the other performances were, with maybe an exception for the slithering and hissing of the head vampire herself, that made Jon’s delivery seem palatable. Honestly, I really would rather see him wielding a guitar in leather pants and feathered hair instead of shooting wood stakes from a gun that looks like it came from Spencer’s Gifts. Perhaps two decades of metal ballads has simply made it hard for me to take him seriously as anything other than what he originally became famous for. Or maybe it’s not his fault at all considering the material he had to work with. Even Tom Savini would have had a hard time pulling off a noteworthy performance with a script that lull ravenous zombies into a catatonic stupor.

I have to admit, was never a huge fan of the original John Carpenter’s film VAMPIRES. I remember seeing it on its opening weekend and, while I did not feel gypped out of my six dollars, I did not wander out of the theater saying to myself “Wow! I have to see that one again!” I certainly never would have imagined creating sequels from the original material, unless, and I know I’m going out on a limb here, it was to improve upon the initial concept. I know, I know! I’m a blue-sky dreamer! Perhaps I sound a bit jaded here, but I guess I should know by now that sequels are rarely ever better than the original and, in fact, are usually far, far worse in comparison. In this sequel Jon Bon Jovi plays the vampire slayer Derek Bliss who is on assignment in Mexico to track down a pack of vamps murdering his fellow hunters.

Out of allies and options, Bliss forms a motley little crew of hunters in training including an awkward teenage boy (Diego Luna), a former priest (Cristián de la Fuente), a jive-slinging badass from Memphis (Darius McCrary) and an annoying girl who apparently was bitten, but is keeping herself from turning full-vamp by taking mysterious pills she picked up in Mexico City (Natasha Gregson Wagner). They soon find out that the vampires are, again, in search of the infamous Black Cross, which will allow them to walk in daylight. Bliss and his posse pile into a haphazard school bus-turned-slayer-mobile with nearly flat tires, and track the vampires back to their lair amongst a pile of ruins in the mountains of Mexico. There, they face off for one final battle.

Could this movie get anymore cliché? Not only is the script mindless and boring, but they have utilized every single vampire B-movie attribute possible, but without any degree of cult class which would have distinguished it from the hordes of other forgettable low-budget films mass produced each year. The fight scenes are weak and pitiful, the characters highly annoying and poorly sculpted, thrown together like clowns in a circus car. The storyline is obvious rehashed John Carpenter tripe, downgraded and stripped of its venom and spunk. Even the lead vampire Una, played by Arly Jover who was a fabulous vampire in BLADE, seems hopelessly lost and weak as she hisses her way through the film.

It’s quite obvious that she was simply not given any true direction to work with and is improvising a great deal, which is sad because she makes for one hell of a sexy vampire. The special effects, considering how low budget this movie was, are actually not half bad (none of the neon-red blood that I have been complaining about in other reviews), but they lose their intensity due to the poor direction of the scenes in which they are featured. And the vampires themselves are actually fairly creepy, but again, they are not given enough screen time or action build to make them memorable.

Overall, this movie was thrown together so hastily that any distinguishing marks it might have had in its original conception were lost by the time of its release. Unless you’re a diehard Bon Jovi fan and want to see him for a few minutes without his shirt on, I’d recommend skipping this film and saving your 93 minutes for something a little more entertaining. There are plenty of noteworthy vampire films on the shelves waiting to be seen, but VAMPIRES: LOS MUERTOS is simply not one of them.

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