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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn.
Author: Johnson, Malcolm||||||Courant Film Critic
Date: Oct 30, 1998
Start Page: F.5
Section: LIFE
Abstract (Document Summary)

The influence of Quentin Tarantino, sometimes a virtuosic director and a witty, darkly ironic writer, is not an entirely sanguine one. It can be downright unhealthy, hazardous to the mental health of some directors. In "John Carpenter's Vampires," clearly inspired by "From Dusk till Dawn," the Tarantino effect is evident. Blood gushes and spurts and cadaverous bloodsuckers slaver and squeal everywhere. There's plenty of sex, too, and caustic humor from the star, James Woods. But nothing is funny.

"From Dusk till Dawn" may well be Tarantino's most egregious effort, but at least it has its moments, however twisted. Using a somewhat similar Southwestern setting, [John] Carpenter and his screenwriter, Don Jacoby, set out a bloodless story line drawn from the John Steakley novel "Vampire$" about the pursuit of a master vampire, the 600-year-old Valek, by Woods' Jack Crow and his partner Montoya, played by a hulking, growling Daniel Baldwin. Along for the joyless ride is a hooker named Katrina, a thankless role for the puffy-looking Sheryl Lee.

Woods, so efective in a wide range of roles, both evil and quasi- heroic ("True Believer," "Salvador"), seems lost here. Mean he can be, certainly, but not tough. Though Jack Crow is supposed to dominate Montoya physically, it seems unlikely that Woods with his skimpy physique and sunken chest could stand up for a minute to the beefiest of the Baldwin boys.

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