Now, nobody loves a good schlocky horror movie as much as I do. And when I say "good," what I really mean is "bad." "Bad" as in lots of gore and silly dialogue, tons of bad acting and inept filmmaking... I can appreciate all of that stuff in its own way. It's surely not as satisfying as watching something like Eternal Sunshine, but moronic movies often have their own distinct charms.
I mention all of that mainly to point out that Vampires: The Turning is not even remotely that sort of "bad" movie. It's the boring and endlessly derivative sort of bad; it's like the millionth photocopy of a document that wasn't all that sparkling to begin with. And while Vampires: The Turning is fairly rife with all the components mentioned above (especially the insipid dialogue!), it's lacking that energetic enthusiasm that separates "good bad" from "plain ol' bad."
Ostensibly an in-name-only sequel to John Carpenter's Vampires and Tommy Lee Wallace's Vampires: Los Muertos (but apparently no relation whatsoever to the recently released Vampires: Out for Blood ... though it might as well be), Vampires: The Turning takes place in Thailand, where a young American couple is knee-deep in a lover's spat. She (Amanda) is, like, totally turned off by her boyfriend (Connor) and his obsession with kickboxing. It's all bloody and gross, so when Mandy gets splattered with an errant stream of kickboxer blood, she hightails it to the nearest exit.
Unwisely wandering the streets of Thailand, crying and covered with boxerblood, Amanda is wooed by a mysterious Asian man with a motorcycle and glowing blue eyeballs. Blue-eyes delivers a strategic chomp onto Amanda's neck just as Connor emerges from the boxing ring ... and there's your plot: an aspiring kickboxer must chop-socky his way through a small army of undead vampire bastards. (Only the movie's not nearly as much fun as that last sentence might indicate.)
The only connection I could identify between this movie and Carpenter's original Vampires flick was that of a few hard-boiled "slayers" who like to dispatch vampires through the use of stake & pulley. It was a pretty neat idea the first time around, but hardly the sort of plot device that deserves an entire trilogy built around it.
The actors are uniformly bland and unconvincing, although I hear that a few of the leads (Colin Egglesfield & Meredith Monroe) have been spotted on The WB, so clearly they're destined for bigger and better things that this. (Like Celebrity Fear Factor.)
If there's one saving grace to Vampires: The Turning (and really, there isn't; I'm just trying to be a nice guy), it might be the small handful of action scenes. Imagine Kickboxer starring a Jim Caviezel look-alike and a bunch of Asian men with blue contact lenses and dime-store Dracula teeth. And then just savor that mental image, because you won't have to pay a rental fee to enjoy it.
Video: A widescreen Anamorphic transfer that's hardly worth raving over. Most of the film's darker scenes (and there are lots) are coated with a tacky film of grain. The transfer is watchable enough ... too bad the movie isn't.
Audio: The DD 5.1 (English) track is serviceable enough, though it's not gonna blow your speakers down, either. There's also a French 2.0 track, as well as a Portuguese 2.0 option as well. Optional subtitles are offered in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
Extras: A collection of Sony trailers: Vampires: The Turning, Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough, Boogeyman, D.E.B.S., Dead Birds, XXX: Director's Cut, Sasquatch Hunters, and Chupacabra Terror.
Even as a huge John Carpenter fan, I found distressingly little to love about the original Vampires entry. The less said about the Jon Bon Jovi follow-up, the better. But those flicks are bona-fide classics compared to Vampires: The Turning. It's not scary, it's not thrilling, and it's sure as hell not worth a five-dollar "new release" rental.