Thanks to his status as one of the genre’s most indisputable icons, even John Carpenter’s weaker movies have tended to find cult classic status long after the fact – but the jury remains well and truly out as to whether or not 1998’s Vampires is deserving of such an accolade.
Looking that the fact, though, we’re inclined to say no. A 47 percent user rating on Rotten Tomatoes from over 50,000 votes being cast is a very poor return when the filmmaker behind The Thing, Escape from New York, Halloween, and countless others has spent decades cultivating a sizeable and eminently dedicated fandom.
Throw in a 42 percent average from critics on both the aforementioned aggregation site and Metacritic, along with a woeful D+ CinemaScore, and it’s clear that Vampires can justifiably be deemed as bottom-tier Carpenter. That hasn’t stopped it from baring its fangs on streaming, though, with Halloween igniting a new wave of appreciation for the box office bomb.
Per FlixPatrol, James Woods’ Jack Crow embarking on a lifelong rampage of revenge following the murder of his parents has become one of the top-viewed titles on ad-supported platform Freevee, with subscribers content to watch Carpenter’s crew of vampire hunters roam the deserts in search of new bloodsuckers to kill.
The supernatural neo-Western has proven to be a tough nut to crack for many filmmakers, and examining where Vampires stands among the Carpenter back catalogue makes it clear that not even one of the all-time greats could make it work in his favor.