No Peckinpah in John Carpenter’s Vampires
I happened to catch John Carpenter’s Vampires the other night for probably the second or third time. While I love vampire movies—The Lost Boys, Fright Night and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are among my favourites—I’ve never much cared for Carpenter’s take on them. That, despite Carpenter being one of the all-time great genre directors. It’s just too cheap and silly and unoriginal, the western influence falls completely flat, and James Woods makes for a horrible hero, despite Carpenter giving him all the best lines and coolest close-ups. And did I mention the master vampire, played by Thomas Ian Griffith with the same mustache-twirling depth he brought to The Karate Kid Part III?
Anyway, there’s a new interview with Carpenter over at Filmmaker Magazine tied to Vampires’ Blu-Ray release. The only quotes worth mentioning are a couple related to the influence of Sam Peckinpah on the shooting of the movie, which I’m sure Carpenter felt while he was making it but it doesn’t really come through on-screen at all:
“I’m mostly attracted to Howard Hawks movies and Hawks’s style, but I also love Peckinpah’s work, especially The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs, and I found myself thinking much more about him than Hawks on Vampires… Now, my approach was much more controlled than Peckinpah, who used to cover everything with a bunch of cameras and then sort it out in the editing room. I didn’t do that; for the most part everything was planned out the way I usually do. I write down a shot list on a piece of paper and I take it with me, and then I forget about it—I don’t really refer to it until the end of the day, and then I’ll take it out and look at it and make sure I got everything I needed. In fact, usually I’ve done more than what I wrote down.”