Plot: What’s it about?
Derek Bliss (Jon Bon Jovi) is a veteran hunter of the undead, as he has stalked vampires from one end of the world to the other. Of course, he has the skills needed to vanquish these creatures, but for his next assignment, even he will be pushed to his limits. A mysterious client has contracted him to go deep into Mexico, where the vampire menace has been dominant of late and Bliss is to eliminate the threat. Even though he has an odd feeling about the mission, he accepts and begins to form a makeshift team of hunters. When it becomes obvious that most of the elite hunters have been killed by the vampires, Bliss is forced to work with he has available, which means some of his team aren’t even hunters. A beautiful, but infected woman named Zoey (Natasha Gregson Wagner), a vengeful priest Father Rodrigo (Cristian de la Fuente), an impoverished local boy, and a big bad hunter named Ray Collins (Darius McCrary) are his fellow partners, which doesn’t make Bliss feel too optimistic. The task will be a bloody one, as the members try to uncover the vampires’ hiding places, but does this mission have more at stake than Bliss thinks?
Although most people disliked John Carpenter’s Vampires, I found it to be a fun movie, though even I had some doubts about this sequel. I mean, the direct to video aspect is one thing, but with no returning cast members, it seemed like a quick rehash to me and as it turns out, that is pretty much the case with Vampires: Los Muertos. A few nice new wrinkles are tossed in, but the storyline is pretty close to the original, just with new characters and like I said, a few little changes to ensure it isn’t quite as obvious. But even so, I wasn’t too let down by Vampires: Los Muertos, as it had a campish texture that made it fun to watch, plus some cool vampire encounters, gorgeous locations, and some wonderful visuals. Jon Bon Jovi and Natasha Gregson Wagner lead a cast of unknowns, though a very alluring female vampire spices up the sights, without question. The dialogue is often cheese laden and the story seems recycled, but Vampires: Los Muertos is still a decent watch for those obsessed with vampire cinema. I’d recommend it as a rental to most, but unless you’re a diehard vampire lover, you might be a little let down here.
I never thought I’d see Jon Bon Jovi as a vampire hunter, but he does his best to pull off the rugged, badass Derek Bliss. In truth, I don’t think he does bad given the material involved, though of course, he won’t be buried in awards. But as this is a direct to video horror movie, I was surprised by his efforts, especially since most rock stars tank in their big screen attempts. Bon Jovi has had some decent smaller roles however, so perhaps he was able to prepare himself for a larger role, as he has the central character in Vampires: Los Muertos. Now don’t think his performance is elite by any means, but as I said, for a rock star in a straight to video vampire picture, Bon Jovi’s work is more than acceptable. Other films with Bon Jovi include Homegrown, Young Guns II, Pay it Forward, The Leading Man, and U-571. The cast also includes Natasha Gregson Wagner (Modern Vampires, Stranger than Fiction), Arly Jover (Blade, Four Dogs Playing Poker), and Cristian de la Fuente (Driven, Minimal Knowledge).
Video: How does it look?
Vampires: Los Muertos is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen edition, with a pan & scan edition on the disc’s flip side. This is a typical Columbia new release, which means some minor issues arise, but on the whole, the visual presentation is superb. The print looks clean throughout, while image sharpness is also top notch, with no softness to mention. The colors are warm, thanks to the setting of the story, but remain bright and on track, never overly warm to the point of oversaturation, just perfect at all times. The movie has some dark scenes, but the contrast is spot on and never falters, so black levels are excellent from start to finish. In closing, this is another terrific effort from Columbia, who continue to impress.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is also very good, with a lot of immersive moments and when the action picks up, so does this Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The surrounds are open for business throughout, with a lot of fast paced, audio dynamic action scenes, as well as some good ambient presence, ranging from subtle to more impact based stuff. So yes, your system will be given a nice workout, but even when the material focuses on atmosphere and smaller touches, this soundtrack keeps up and delivers a great audio experience. The music also sounds well presented, while dialogue is smooth and never hard to understand. This disc also includes subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a solid audio commentary track with director Tommy Lee Wallace, as well as the film’s trailer.