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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Vampires: Los Muertos (2002)

"If I pull this trigger, I bet it's gonna hurt you real bad."
- Derek Bliss (Jon Bon Jovi)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 16, 2002

Stars: Jon Bon Jovi, Arly Jover
Other Stars: Darius McCrary, Natasha Wagner, Cristián de la Fuente, Diego Luna
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

MPAA Rating: R for vampire violence, language and brief sexuality
Run Time: 01h:33m:28s
Release Date: September 24, 2002
UPC: 043396096882
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B+B+ B-

DVD Review

Slapping John Carpenter's name across the front of this one is a little deceptive, as his only involvement was as the film's producer, and not the director. While it is a sequel of sorts to his darkly twisted 1998 classic, Vampires, this installment plays out with the predictable enthusiasm of a sub-par episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (as if that would ever happen), minus that show's consistently sharp rapier wit.

The first strike might seem to be casting pretty-boy rocker Jon Bon Jovi in the lead, as vampire hunter Derek Bliss, and NOT finding some way in holy hell to bring back James Woods' brooding Jack Crow character to the story. Without Jack Crow, the meager fate of Vampires: Los Muertos is all but set in stone as a tepid substitute to the real thing. Bon Jovi is not the worst actor ever to appear in a horror film, far from it as a matter of fact. It's just that he always looks like he's about to break into that Wanted Dead Or Alive song, which in hindsight might not have been that bad of an idea (try and imagine Bon Jovi, The Singing Vampire Slayer).

The story is set somewhere in rural, dusty Mexico, where hunter Bliss is sent to track a nasty female vamp named Una (Arly Jover) and her nest of fanged buddies. When all of his potential able-bodied helpers end up dead, he is forced to align with an oddball group of wannabe trackers, including vampire-bitten Zoey (Natasha Wagner—daughter of Natalie Wood), rugged priest Rodrigo (Cristián de la Fuente), and cocky youngster Lupe (Diego Luna). Bliss keeps all of his vampire-hunting weapons in a hollowed-out surf board, which I suspect is a desperate, clichéd attempt to give him some modicum of quirky character.

A film like Vampires: Los Muertos is not completely without some merit as a lightweight vampire film; there are, after all, plenty of severed, flaming heads and a decent amount of spilled blood. Writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace even stages a scene that borrows liberally from Near Dark's infamous roadhouse sequence, though nothing can ever compare with a bloodthirsty Bill Paxton.

My favorite moment in the whole film takes place in a diner, and is meant to visualize just how quickly vampires can move, a theory that is occasionally forsaken during other key points in the script. In the space of time it takes Bliss to toss a wadded up piece of paper into a men's room garbage can (in super-exaggerated slo-mo), evil vampire Una decimates the entire diner crowd. It's an imaginative and fun scene, but this type of cleverness just doesn't hold up for the film's duration, unfortunately.



Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - n/a
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Columbia TriStar has dressed up this release with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on one side, and a 1.33:1 fullframe on the flip side. Let's talk widescreen, because that's really what it's all about anyway, right? First of all, who would have figured a horror B-film would get such a royal 2.35:1 transfer? Lots of bright reds and dusty golds are rendered accurately here, and the overall image detail is sharp, with very little in the way of edge enhancement or compression issues to whine about.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Here's a low-budget film where the fairly aggressive 5.1 audio mix really helps heighten and set the tone. Rears channel get used for a lot of score element stingers, as well as some general ambient sound effects. Front channel separation is very pronounced, and this is really noticeable on the south-of-the-border score from Brian Tyler, which has a fullness often lacking in a lot of B-grade horror films. Character dialogue is clean and well-mixed, also.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Chinese, Thai, Korean with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ghosts Of Mars, Bram Stoker's Dracula
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Tommy Lee Wallace
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace provides a full-length, scene-specific commentary track that while not particularly electric, is generally informative and one that makes this film feel a little more substantial than it really is. Wallace discusses the origins of the project, his involvement with John Carpenter, and more than a few times he pokes fun at some of the plot inconsistencies along the way. The guy has a very easy, laid-back manner about him, and while I wasn't necessarily a huge fan of the film, I did find his commentary pretty easy to take.

The disc is divided into a healthy 28 chapters, and includes a trio of theatrical trailers (Vampires:Los Muertos, Ghosts of Mars, Bram Stoker's Dracula), and subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Thai, and Korean.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

A few fun moments can be culled from this largely predictable vampire tale, but unless you're a Bon Jovi completist, there isn't much here to really recommend. Perhaps the nice 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer and the well-mixed 5.1 track might make the experience a little more palatable, if you're especially curious.

 


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