Movie producer Sandy King dropped by New Beverly Cinema on November 19, 2011 to talk about her husband John Carpenter’s movie “Vampires.” The website Horror Movie a Day hosted this midnight screening which brought out a small but dedicated crowd who yearned to see it on the big screen again. Carpenter once said that he originally became a filmmaker to make westerns and this movie, based on the novel “Vampire$” by John Steakley, is the closest thing he has made to one.
King said the project came to her and Carpenter after she bailed out a producer who was working on a Largo Entertainment show. Largo was the sales engine behind this feature, and while she and Carpenter were used to putting their own projects together, King stated they we’re “more for hire” when it came to “Vampires.”
Casting this movie was Reuben Cannon who brought vampire actors from all over the world to his casting office. There were even midget vampires, King said, who were about 4 feet tall. Many who did get cast as blood suckers were stunt people as they had to perform the movie’s most dangerous stunts. The scene where vampires climb out of the dirt proved to be the roughest one of all.
Thomas Ian Griffith was cast as the imposing master vampire Valek. King was standing outside Cannon’s office when she noticed a shadow looming over her. It turned out to be Griffith who is 6’ 6” tall, and his height gave her the strong impression of a vampire. King also said that on top of Griffith being tall and athletic, he could also act which made him perfect.
When it came to describing James Woods who played Jack Crow in the film, King said bluntly, “He’s nuts!”
It turned out King and Woods shared the same publicist, and Carpenter was looking for a really good actor for the part. While Woods proved difficult to cast (the studio didn’t want him in the lead), Carpenter was intent on working with him despite his reputation of being difficult to work with. The role, however, turned out to be a real physical challenge for Woods as he was not really an athletic actor, something that’s hard to believe after watching “Vampires.” Stunt coordinator Jeff Imada ended up helping him look as tough as he does onscreen, but King stressed that Wood’s role was really about acting.
As for the rest of the cast, King described them as “great” and “really good people.” She described Sheryl Lee, who played the prostitute Katrina, as “the most unspoiled actress ever.” Daniel Baldwin, who played Montoya and is better known for his legal problems, was not a problem according to her. In fact, when a wave of bronchial flu ended up infecting the cast and crew, she said Baldwin ended up bringing soup for everyone.
While receiving a rather middling reception when it debuted domestically, “John Carpenter’s Vampires” is a better movie than people generally give it credit for. Sandy King told the audience that her next movie with Carpenter will be “Darkchylde” which is based on comic book created by Randy Queen about a teenage girl who can become the creatures that originate from her own nightmares. We look forward to whatever these two work on next!