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Friday, January 23, 2015

Vampire Hookers

Vampire Hookers
1978
Cirio H. Santiago

Tom (Bruce Fairbairn) and Terry (Terry Wayne) are sailors on leave in the Philippines. Naturally, they are looking for some women to spend time with, and after a few strike-outs and some jail time, a friend of theirs recommends a place far outside of town… in a graveyard.  Tom and Terry discover the women there aren’t women at all, they’re vampires. The head vampire is a poetry spouting recluse by the name of Richmond Reed (John Carradine), and he’s not about to let the sailors leave while they still have blood in their veins.

No secrets between sailors!
With a theme song that includes the phrase, “Vampire Hookers, blood is not all they suck,” you would think you would be getting something much more lurid than you actually do. That’s not to say there isn’t a steady amount of nudity and a little blood present in the movie, but by 1978 standards Vampire Hookers is pretty tame. The movie leans on its comedy a little too much, and defangs (sorry) what horror does exist. I think with a more fright, it might have ended up being a precursor to films like Fright Night (1985) and Vamp (1986). As it exists now, Vampire Hookers is a goofy comedy dressed up like an exploitation movie.

When Vampire Hookers tries to be funny, it just ends up being deeply weird: Richmond Reed constantly quotes of Shakespeare and Walt Whitman with little context, the Renfield wannabe sleeps in a coffin with a tube in it so he can bathe in his own flatulence, there is also some tasteless transvestite humor, and the eating of duck embryos. The Filipino locations are enjoyably gritty and real, while the plastic vampire fangs look fake enough to have been purchased at a local drug store.

Weirdest version of Power Rangers ever.
The one real bright spot is the acting. Everyone involved seem to be really enjoying themselves and that translates into some lively performances. The two leads, Tom Buckley and Terry Wayne, manage to make their lecherous sailors into amiable buddies, when it would have been easy for them become tiresome. Lex Winter as CPO Taylor, almost steals the movie by underplaying his role while everyone else chews the scenery. Even the vampire hookers themselves put enough character into their rolls to make them more than just a pretty set of fangs. 

What exactly is the purpose of Vampire Hookers? It’s not scary enough to be a horror movie, it’s not funny enough to be a comedy, and it’s not remotely lewd enough to be pure exploitation. It does manage to achieve the best possible outcome in this situation, and that is to become a charming mess. Vampire Hookers is far less than you expect it to be, yet at that the same time, it is eminently watchable. I would highly recommend the Vinegar Syndrome DVD release, it’s a great looking, clean image with colors that really pop. The soundtrack is nice and clear too, that damn theme song is going to be stuck in your head for days.

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