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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "John Carpenter's Vampires" )

 

directed by John Carpenter
USA 1998

 

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) stars the irrepressible James Woods as a Vatican-sanctioned vampire slayer assisted by a wise-cracking sidekick (Daniel Baldwin) and a na´ve young priest (Tim Guinee); they’re pitted against a centuries-old vamp (Thomas Ian Griffith) in an attempt to retrieve a religious relic that will allow the nocturnal types to stalk the world in the full light of day. Also starring Maximilian Schell and Sheryl Lee, and featuring a terrific score by the versatile Carpenter.

***

Along with the comic-book-based Blade and the television spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this adaptation of John Steakley's disposable novel Vampires reflects a significant shift of emphasis in the vampire sub-genre. It's comparable to the mutation of the gangster movie whereby the flamboyant hoods of the early 30s were replaced as central figures later in the decade by equally flamboyant G-men, often played by the same actors (Cagney, Robinson). This current cycle similarly recasts the villains themselves as old-fashioned monsters of the night without any redeeming features and concentrates on the vampire slayers, whose inflexible moral superiority is leavened by their striking an assortment of supposedly appealing rebel poses.

In the opening sequence, James Woods' Wild Bunch-style team of vampire slayers surround an isolated farmhouse and, after taking a blessing from their padre, charge in like a combination of a SWAT unit and a lynch mob. Crow's favoured vampire-killing method is to shoot his prey with a crossbow bolt attached to a steel wire which when winched hauls the screaming "goon" into the sunlight like a landed fish. After wiping out this first nest, the team retreat to the Sun-God Motel for a party with gallons of beer and a Peckinpahish gaggle of topless hookers, only to be interrupted by Valek (modelling a black spaghetti-Western duster and a hippie haircut) who turns up to slaughter everyone with his bare hands. Director John Carpenter stages both massacres with a few effective initial strokes lifted from Sergio Leone or Peckinpah but then hurries through the death counts (as he does with other major sequences, including the finale) with elliptical fades that only render the action confusing and minimise their impact.

Excerpt of Sight and Sound review by Kim Newman located HERE

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 15, 1998

Indicator (Powerhouse) initial slate of Blu-rays
Spine #001 Spine #002 Spine #003 Spine #004

Spine #005

Spine #006

Spine #008 Spine #010 Spine #012 Spine #013 Spine #019 Spine #020

 


Reviews                                                                      More Reviews                                                              DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Indicator (UK) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Vincent BOUCH╔ for all the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

5) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Also available in Europe on Blu-ray (unknown quality):

   

Distribution

Columbia

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner
Region 2 - PAL
Columbia
Region 1 - NTSC
Twilight Time
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Indicator
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:44 1:43:05 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:44 1:47:53.341 1:47:53.341
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.53 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 31,757,076,397 bytes

Feature Size: 30,797,365,248 bytes

Total Bitrate: 25.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 48,697,520,597 bytes

Feature Size: 36,039,472,704 bytes

Total Bitrate: 33.29 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Columbia

Bitrate:

Warner (Edition Collector)

 

Bitrate:

Columbia (Superbit)

 

Bitrate: Twilight Time

 

Blu-ray

Bitrate: Indicator

 

Blu-ray

Audio English DD 2.0 Surround and DD 5.1, French DD 2.0 Surround

English DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1, DUBs: French DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1

English DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4390 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4390 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2130 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2130 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1927 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1927 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1990 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1990 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4202 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4202 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Isolated Score:

LPCM Audio Undetermined 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English, French, none French (FORCED on English soundtracks) English, French, Spanish, Portuguese English (SDH), none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Columbia

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with director John Carpenter
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: October 7, 2003
Amaray with carboard slipcover

Chapters 28
 

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with director John Carpenter
• 'The Directors : John Carpenter' documentary (58:35)
• 'Behind The Scenes' featurette (5:53)
• Cast And Crew Filmographies
• Theatrical Trailer
• Bonus Trailer : Ghosts of Mars
• This is a 2-disc set

 

DVD Release Date: October 18, 2001
Amaray with carboard slipcover

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Columbia

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
None

 

DVD Release Date: August 5, 2003
Amaray with carboard slipcover

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio:
Twilight Time

 

Disc Size: 31,757,076,397 bytes

Feature Size: 30,797,365,248 bytes

Total Bitrate: 25.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director John Carpenter
The Making of John Carpenter’s Vampires (6:10)
Isolated Score Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05)

• 8-page liner notes by Julie Kirgo
Limited to 5,000 units

 

Blu-ray Release Date: October, 2015
White Blu-ray case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Indicator

 

Disc Size: 48,697,520,597 bytes

Feature Size: 36,039,472,704 bytes

Total Bitrate: 33.29 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with Writer-Director John Carpenter
• The Making of John Carpenter’s Vampires (23:36)
• Isolated Score Track
• Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05)
• John Carpenter: The Guardian Interview (Part 1)(38:27)
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Kim Newman
Limited to 5,000 units

 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 30th, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 24

 

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray January 17': The new Indicator 1080P transfer seems exactly the same as the 2015 Twilight Time. I can find no appreciable differences excepting the Indicator may look negligibly superior in-motion. I suspect most will find this imperceptible. 

Audio also matches up well. A very robust DTS-HD Master and the option of a lossless 2.0 channel stereo track. Plenty of depth and separation in the surround.  The multi-talented Carpenter does his own score as he has done many times (Christine, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness etc.) There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region FREE.

Extras duplicate the Twilight Time and add a bit more - we get the audio commentary with writer-director John Carpenter the Making of John Carpenter’s Vampires featurettes - behind the scenes, interviews with cast and crew, including John Carpenter, James Woods and Sheryl Lee, B-roll footage etc. We even get the Carpenter's isolated score track and a theatrical trailer, but Indicator add a, part one (of two), valuable 40-minute Guardian Interview with John Carpenter- excellent and there limited edition (5,000 units) with exclusive booklet with a new essay by Kim Newman and it is dual-format with a, second disc, DVD.

Fun schlock ala Carpenter and Sheryl Lee (hubba hubba). All good and more extras than the film deserves... the Indicator Blu-ray is the definitive! Fans shouldn't hesitate!

***

ADDITION: Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray October 15': The new Twilight Time 1080P is quite dark - which we assume, now, is accurate (reddish hue is intentional). It's a pretty impressive HD image - everything tightens-up and the dark image is handled well without noise and appearing very crisp. It shows the side information that the NTSC DVDs omit. Contrast is adept. It looks very good - NOTE: I think I have another Blu-ray of this title somewhere - if I find it I will compare one day.

Twilight Time gives the option of a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master (a whopping 4390 kbps) or a 2.0 channel stereo DTS-HD Master. It sounds very strong exporting the many effects with intensity. Sounds exceptional at times. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region FREE.

Twilight Time include the, previous, audio commentary with Writer-Director John Carpenter as well as a vintage Making of piece that runs about 6-minutes. They include their usual Isolated Score Track and there is an original theatrical trailer. There are 8-pages of liner notes by Julie Kirgo and the package is limited to 5,000 units.

Carpenter's many fans should be very pleased although a second, new, commentary would have added further value - this is still a very cool BD of a fun, scary and detailed film. Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE DVDs: Here is an example of how different an image can be outside of NTSC North America. The PAL edition looks far more realistic in its color scheme and is also sharper. Of course, I have no idea what this film is supposed to look like. Both the original and SuperBit NTSC versions have a strange red hue over the image  - it even looks bluish at times. The PAL edition is significantly brighter with far more vibrant colors.

Of course, the big avoidance point here is that the PAL edition has non-removable French subtitles when played in the original English track (a copyright issue more than likely). There is also another factor to consider - this is only John Carpenter's Vampires so most people will not care less. I guess I am being harsh, the film did give me a few chuckles. The French edition has a Carpenter commentary and an hour long documentary.

Bottom line is that the NTSC editions have some room for improvement if only in sharpness IF you consider the greenish color scheme to be accurate and director intended.

- Gary W Tooze

JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES - The U.S. SuperBit edition should be the best one, but I did see this in the theater and both U.S. editions are totally unacceptable. Though Carpenter has not done a truly great film since THEY LIVE back in 1988, why do these U.S. copies have to look so lame? It did not look that bad! Who knows, but the Warner PAL edition is the way it looked in the theater, especially conveying the naturalistic look Carpenter wanted the film to have in reference to those Professional Westerns of the 1960s. Since The Warner PAL version has DTS, it is the obvious winner. As for the SuperBit situation, like Criterion, some live up to their brand name and some do not. VAMPIRES joins CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and even SPIDERMAN (the DTS and Dolby ruined by having to share space with a commentary track) as SuperBit disappointments. Among the best to date are THE PATRIOT, HOLLOW MAN, the first CHARLIE'S ANGELS and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, so try those instead if you want to see SuperBit titles at their best.

Nicholas Sheffo from FulvueDrive-In.com


Menus

(Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 

 

 

 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

 

Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

5) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

5) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

5) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner (Edition Collector) - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Columbia (Superbit) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

5) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-rays

Sound:

Blu-rays

Extras: Indicator Blu-ray

Hit Counter

 

Box Covers

Also available in Europe on Blu-ray (unknown quality):

   

Distribution

Columbia

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner
Region 2 - PAL
Columbia
Region 1 - NTSC
Twilight Time
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Indicator
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Indicator (Powerhouse) initial slate of Blu-rays
Spine #001 Spine #002 Spine #003 Spine #004

Spine #005

Spine #006

Spine #008 Spine #010 Spine #012 Spine #013 Spine #019 Spine #020

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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