Credit: Underworld: Evolution: Doug Curran

Vampires got an upgrade in Underworld, the 2003 Goth-chic horror actioner. In a canny spin on the genre, they earned the right to bear arms. Ostensibly, this was so bloodsuckers like Kate Beckinsale could blow away ”lycans” (a.k.a. werewolves) with silver-nitrate rounds to the heart, as the two mutant forms were locked in a centuries-long battle. The real boon, however, was cosmetic: Vampires need guns because guns, like cigarettes, make people on movie screens look sexier — even pasty, undead people with gore dripping off their fangs. In Underworld: Evolution, Beckinsale again doublefists her automatic hand cannons, but eventually you have to ask: What for? This time werewolves have, for the most part, ceded main villain duties to a supervampire (Tony Curran) with scary wings popping out of his back that double as spears, making all the noisy gunplay just sound and fury — it signifies nothing, since vampires are immortal, remember? Bullets only slow them down. So the guns are a bit of a gyp, and the series never expands on the promise of its one innovation. Nevertheless, there remain minor pleasures. I especially like how, when Beckinsale’s half-wolf, half-vampire friend Scott Speedman moves in for a kiss, you can hear the black leather of her dominatrix getup crinkle and crackle on the soundtrack like an old saddle. Sizzlin’!

Underworld: Evolution
  • Movie
  • 105 minutes