Vampires Don’t Sparkle

Late night Los Angeles: a femme fatale named Racquel is out on the town with some empty-headed party boi named Heatseeking Dennis whose mind is little more than a countdown clock to having sex with strangers. Racquel takes Dennis to a weird meat packing plant where it looks like maybe there are human corpses in body bangs hanging among the beef slabs, but before Dennis can make sense of it, Racquel brings him into a secret rave in the back, where dozens of people are already jumping to the music and hooking up. Dennis thinks, all right, game on, until Racquel ditches him and the other partiers all get unusually hostile with him. Just as Dennis figures this ain’t the kind of party he signed up for, everybody’s arms reach to the ceiling and the sprinkler system showers the whole room with blood. Racquel and everybody else sprouts fangs and Dennis realizes he wasn’t here to party, he’s here to be party food. Surrounded by vampires who decide to kick him around a little before they tear into him, Dennis tries to crawl to safety until…

BOOM. There he is.

Dennis looks up and sees this absolute badass in body armor and a leather trenchcoat, and at once, everyone in the place but Dennis knows who it is. It’s Blade. The Daywalker. The vampire who can withstand sunlight. The vampire who hunts other vampires. Suddenly, these raving bloodsuckers realize they they have brought Dennis here to feed, but Blade followed Dennis here to hunt. And they are his prey.

The rooms explodes in a stylized fiasco of martial arts and mayhem as Blade just cleans house. He opens fire with a MAC-10 filled with silver bullets. He lets them have it with a shotgun that sprays silver pellets, and has a double-barreled spike launcher underneath. He throws around extra spikes like as daggers. He has some crazy silver-edged sword to hack through vamps left and right. He has an even crazier boomerang knife that takes out four and five bad guys in a single throw. Hell, he even has a silver garrote line for when any of his other tools fail. He is like if James Bond, Batman, and Shaft all merged like Voltron and decided to kill only vampires. By the end of it all, the warehouse has only three people left in it: Blade, the one vampire he decided to set on fire rather than kill outright, and poor Dennis, who probably will never again eat meat, go on a date, or venture out after dark. By the time the cops respond to the reports of gunfire, all they find is Dennis against the wall, a charcoal vampire, and a whole lot of questions without answers. Blade is gone, already on the next leg of his hunt.

This is just the first 10 minutes of this movie, people. The first 10. The other 110 involves Blade taking down the network of Deacon Frost, an overly ambitious vampire who seeks not just to control the nightworld of Los Angeles, but to transform vampires into a species like Blade, to rule the world and turn all of humanity into cattle. Blade ain’t gonna let that happen, and there are approximately 9,245 more action scenes like the first one in which he goes about proving how serious he is.

Oh, there’s a little more to it, but not much. There’s a bit about a hematologist working on a cure for vampirism, and a guy named Whistler who is Blade’s armorer and vampire-hunting mentor, and a much larger vampire council that suggests a global vampire network. Even if Blade frees LA, he’s got a hundred other cities to clean out too. But that’s okay, because that’s all Blade is here to do. It’s open war on all suckheads, he states early on, and he is absolutely not kidding. This movie is about killing vampires in spectacular fashion and looking cool as hell while doing it. Everything else is just garnish.

And you know what? That’s fine. Blade isn’t a great movie. It’s not a deep movie. But it is a fun movie. My favorite scene is still that opening one because like many action movies, the first action sequence is a bit of a mission statement to the audience. The writhing congregation of vampires and their familiars operating just barely out of sight rather than from deep within the shadows, the hyperkinetic manner in which Blade fights them, the all-out war between Blade and Frost’s horde, all peak to a kind of vampire not meant to horrify you, but to give you a reason to pick up a stake and start swinging, yourself. This movie ain’t about being afraid somebody is gonna bite you. This movie is about being afraid there might not be any biters left once you’re done reloading. In a world where vampires are often seen as winsome, romantic outsiders rather than repulsive metaphors for various kinds of predation, Blade is practically a series of public service announcements: Vampires might be cool, but vampire hunting is cooler. No monster is ever more powerful than the society it preys upon. And vampires aren’t supposed to sparkle unless they just got hit by a blast of silver buckshot.

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