James Woods is Crow, the vampire slayer. Evidently his parents were bitten by vampires when he was a kid, and the church bred him to be their number one vampire slayer. So he goes around killing vampires wherever he can find them. The movie opens with him and his crew (including Daniel Baldwin) finding a "nest" of vampires. These guys aren't your regular vampire slayers... they have a certain way of doing things. Either you slam a wooden stake through the heart of the vampire, or you shoot it, and drag it outside so it bursts into flames. No garlic, no holy water, nothing like that. Oh yeah, then you need to cut off their heads. So they kill all these vampires, but they can't find the Master Vampire. Then that night as they party around and get drunk, the Master Vampire appears and slaughters everyone (except of course for James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, and a hooker). Basically the Master Vampire is the first vampire ever. He needs this Black Cross so he can finish what happened to him hundreds of years ago, and make it so he can walk the earth during daylight. James Woods needs to stop him and save the planet.
First off, I didn't like James Woods in this role. He didn't have the toughness or the presence I felt the role needed. I also didn't like Daniel Baldwin. And while we're at it, I didn't like Sheryl Lee as the hooker. Neither of the last two felt right either in their roles. The only character I liked was the Master Vampire (played by Thomas Ian Griffith). The problem was, he wasn't used a lot. He'd kill some people, then disappear, then kill again, then disappear, then finally near the end he spoke (more than just two words).
The ending of the film bothered me. In what should have been a major battle at the end between the Master Vampire and Crow, the Master dies in the most pedestrian way. You spend the entire movie building up to a climax. Good vs. Evil. Vampire slayer vs. Master Vampire. And within a few seconds the vampire is blown up. I think the one-on-one battle between the two should have lasted a little longer than it did.
The other problem I had was the film didn't have a good pace to it. The opening of the movie was violent and bloody, which I enjoyed. The blood and special effects were good, especially watching the vampires burn up. Then the following scene where the Master comes in a slice everyone up was also good. But that's where the movie lost it. The rest of the movie seemed very slow. It became more of a thinking movie than an action movie. The final scene was good (except for that damn ending) but it was all the parts in between the beginning and the end that needed to be more exciting. I found my mind wandering during the middle, and that's not supposed to happen in a John Carpenter film. If it wasn't for the cool music, I may have tuned out all together.
The story was another thing. They kept adding more and more little secrets throughout, to give more of a reason why everything was happening. The (limited) background of Crow, the Black Cross and everything else was brought out very slowly. We had to wait until two-thirds of the way through the film to find out why the Master Vampire all of a sudden was killing so many people. And the twist at the end was a little obvious if you ask me. I know these types of horror films aren't really supposed to have big plot lines, but I'd rather see one with no plot, than one with a half-assed one.
So overall, I didn't like Vampires all that much. The music was cool, the special effects were cool, but the movie and the actors were not. I think you should wait till next Halloween and rent this one, and keep it on in the background during your Halloween party. But that's just my opinion.