“I had no idea it would be this good…”
The Scoop: 2002 R, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Jon Bon Jovi, Christian de la Fuente, Natasha Wagner and Arly Jover
Tagline: No tagline
Summary Capsule: Jon Bon Jovi fights vampires in a terrible sequel to a barely adequate film.
Rich’s rating: Introducing – The Winch of Tension!
Rich’s review: Insomnia is a terrible thing — just ask Ed Norton -– and as an habitual non-sleeping type person myself, I envy those people out there who seem to possess the magical ability to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. When I try, I’m more prone to lying there wondering whether Frodo’s mithril shirt really could have saved his life in the Fellowship movie, considering the force that Troll hit him.
However, the grubby silver lining in the dark cloud of my insomnia is this; I have unlimited time and exposure to the kind of films shown on satellite TV at 3 in the morning. I can see all you normal sleeping people are feeling a bit jealous now, right? Just imagine the possibilities… who knows what kind of classic films they reserve for those coveted early morning timeslots? As a reward for those with the fortitude to tackle watching a 90 minute film which starts at 3am, they must surely reserve only the best for such a discerning crowd?
My friends, I can’t even begin to tell you.
So, this last Saturday night, it’s 3am, and I’m wide awake as usual. Since it’s Saturday, and I don’t have to really get up for anything the following day, I forgo my usual regimen of battering my head against the wall until I’m unconscious to force sleep, and just go with it. So I stretch out on the couch and I flick on the Satellite remote, heading for the movie channels, and call up the quick summary information on the films that are about to start. One catches my eye.
“Jon Bon Jovi is a vampire slayer…”
We have just lost cabin pressure.
Seriously, how could I not watch this film? Not only is mocking Jon Bon Jovi something akin to a holy crusade for me, but Jon Bon Jovi, and Vampires? This was the stuff of legends. In the 20 minutes I had remaining, popcorn was popped, salsa was opened and chips (crisps for us English types) and beers were poured.
Surprise number one came right at the opening credits -– this was a John Carpenter film; the same John Carpenter who gave us Big Trouble In Little China, and The Thing, and Escape from New York, and Assault on Precinct 13 -– and I love all those films, and several others of his. It also clued me in that this was probably a sequel to John Carpenter’s Vampires from 1998, which was an OK vampire film made worth watching by the fact that James Woods is absolutely the man in every film he is in.
Unfortunately for me, Jon Bon Jovi had been substituted for Mr. Woods in the sequel, and even more unfortunately, many of the other elements from the previous film had been similarly downgraded several notches. What was a passable plot, with a few interesting minor characters and a two dimensional but still cool villain, had become in the sequel: a horribly forced plot, with dull as anything characters and a villainess who has a long tongue and looks good in a peasant shift. And that’s it.
In fact, the entire plot is a rehash of the original one; once again, those wily vampires are after a way to move around during the day again (what is it with Vampires and that? Could some Hollywood writer please come up with a DIFFERENT master plot for the Vampire race? Please?). So, not only is the new Master (or should that be Mistress) vampire on the look out for the relic they were in the first one, but also manages to find out that there’s some experimental drug being doled out in Mexico City that does allows vampires to go out during the day, as well as stopping people dying of Vampirism and turning into nasty, pointy-teethed undead.
What’s Mr. Bon Jovi’s role in all this? Well he’s a surfer/vampire hunter, and gets hired to get a bunch of other vampire hunters together to kill a nest of vampires in Mexico. However, since all the good vampire hunters keep getting knocked off before Bon Jovi can ask them to join his band, he ends up with a 16 year-old Mexican kid, a tough African American guy from the streets with a shotgun, a nearly-vampire psychic/plot device/rescue fodder/love interest woman, and a priest. I guess he really is Livin’ on a Prayer.
The catalogue of horrific plot holes in this film would occupy more space than there is on the actual internet; so I will save you all the panic that would inevitably result from the destruction of MRFH and the rest of the world wide web, and just touch on some basic idiocy, Los Muertos style. The nearly-vampire woman keeps her critical medicine in a large plastic bottle on her bedside in free view of everyone. The hardened urban warrior won’t sleep inside the nice safe van, because he’s claustrophobic –- so instead he sleeps, outside, on his own, in the middle of vampire territory. But that’s not the best thing -– the best thing is when he wakes up to find a mysterious woman next to him; does he (a) shoot her with his shotgun, (b) alert the others, (c) ask her to talk to him, then proceed straight to sex within 30 seconds. If you answered (c), you may well be qualified to write horrible, horrible sequels.
As much as it pains me to say it, the very best thing about this film might be Jon Bon Jovi; but don’t be fooled by that. It’s akin to saying the best thing about being stabbed in the face with a knife that you can never dislodge is that you’ll always have somewhere to hang your coat or hat from then on. If the original Vampires was like the plain pizza you deliver from the same store every week — OK, but nothing you haven’t had before, then Los Muertos is that same pizza re-heated for 30 seconds in the microwave two days later. It’s exactly the same ingredients, but just worse in every way.
The one cinematic first for this film is the introduction of a brand new plot device -– the Tension Winch™. You see, in the original Vampire, James Woods would kill vampires by attaching a cable to them and running the winch on his truck to drag them into the daylight. Well, not one to let a good idea go to waste, Jon boy also has a winch to drag his vampiric enemies into the light of day and let them go down, in a Blaze of Glory.
However, considering the number of times it gets used in this film, I would suggest that Jon spends some money on, well, a winch that works. Every single time they need that thing to wind a vampire into the sunlight –- click, whirr, nothing as the Winch of Tension fails to work once more. By the time you get to the big confrontation towards the end of the film, the tension genuinely builds as to whether the winch will actually ever work at all and maybe kill a vampire once during the whole film. Whether it does… well, that’s for you to find out.
- Where Derek Bliss hides his weapons? That’s a pretty good idea, but it must make surfing kinda hard.
- That the entire budget of the film was obviously spent on fake blood? John Carpenter sure loves his gory scenes, my word.
- How 95% of every decision by every character makes no sense at all?
- How much the mistress Vampire looks like Trinity from The Matrix?
- [SPOILER] Exactly how irrelevant Bon Jovi’s decision to turn himself into a vampire at the end was? I mean, what did that achieve? I guess he just wanted to live while he was alive, sleep while he was dead.
- The pitifully small amount of Bon Jovi song titles I’ve managed to work into this review.
- The only connection to the previous film is a short mention of the events of the original in some dialogue, and the name of a (dead) character.
- [after beheading a vampire in the middle of a crowded city]
- Derek Bliss: Yeah, well, I guess we should be moving along now.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- John Carpenter’s Vampires