Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vampire Hookers – review

dvdDirected by: Cirio H Santiago

Release date: 1978

contains spoilers

As far as I am aware, Vampire Hookers is only available on a double feature dvd that also features the flick Cemetery Girls. We previously looked at Cemetery Girls under its other name Count Dracula’s Great Love. The strange thing is, this flick was also known as Cemetery Girls (as well as Sensuous Vampires) and probably suits the name better.

Before we look at the film it is probably best to mention that the double feature set – under the title exploitation cinema – cashed in on the Grindhouse revival and, as such, the joint US/Philippine film is pretty much un-restored (despite the claim at the head of the movie).

the vampiresIt opens with John Carradine, who plays vampire Richmond Reed, quoting poetry. He does that a lot through the film, often Walt Whitman or Shakespeare and later he claims Walt Whitman was a vampire (he claims the same of Shakespeare), amusing as Bram Stoker was an admirer of Whitman. One of the female vampires rebukes him and states that she knew Whitman and he was no vampire. I have said on several occasions that one had to feel some sense of embarrassment for the roles Carradine sometimes ended up in. In this he seems to be having a hoot – it is not a great film, but he really does seem to enjoy himself.

Two sailors, Tom Buckley (Bruce Fairbairm) and Terry Wayne (Trey Wilson) arrive in port – I assume Manila, given the joint production source but it is never stated and so could be anywhere. Tom’s landed in his first port and wants to find a gal – Terry makes himself out to be the more experienced but he is just as bungling. They meet up briefly with Eddie, their Chief, but he goes off in a taxi driven by Julio (Leo Martinez). They have misadventures around a trans-bar, with local cuisine (balut) and nearly getting mugged. They are saved by Eddie and Julio and end up drunk in a bar with them. Suddenly a babe walks in whom Julio claims to know – she is Cherish (Karen Stride). If Terry wants to get to know her he’ll have to give up everything he’s got. He puts his money down and he and Tom end up in a drunken fight over who saw her first. Julio takes Cherish and Eddie out of there as the MPs come in for the two brawling sailors.

Eddie and CherishHe drives them to a cemetery and Eddie is somewhat concerned, however Cherish suggests she lives there. Unsure he follows her into a large crypt and we see a man, Pavo (Vic Diaz), lurking round the graves. Eddie mentions, negatively, sleeping in a coffin and she chides him, “coffins are for being laid to rest, not being laid.” She twists a mechanism and a sarcophagus springs open to reveal stairs into a lower area. She takes him to her room and suggests he get undressed.

Vic Diaz as PavoElsewhere in the tombs Richmond is approached by Pavo who tells him that a man has come. He and two other girls, Suzy (Lenka Novak) and Marcy (Katie Dolan) approach Eddie. They tell him he is to die. He turns to Cherish but she has sprouted fangs and bites him. As the vampires retire to coffin we see Pavo retire to a crate, though he is not a vampire – later in the film we discover he wants to be one. Inside he puts a tube to his mouth and we wonder why, until he farts – the smell becoming so bad he has to abandon crate despite the breathing tube. Pavo seems to be, mainly, a walking fart gag (and not a funny one at that).

draining the sailorA week has passed before Tom and Terry are released from the stockade, by then Eddie has been declared absent without leave. They head around town trying to find him until, eventually, they see a sailor get into Julio’s cab with Cherish. They follow it and Tom investigates the crypt (Terry is scared of graveyards, as he tells several people through the remaining film, though we get to hear very little of the anecdote behind this fear). In the crypt Tom finds the sailor strung up and being bled. Of course the vampires spot Tom – who just manages to escape with Terry because the sun rises.

post orgyThe film then runs on a go back to the graveyard, get captured, try to rescue formula. It is Tom who returns and is captured – but the vampires do not kill him straight away. Instead the three girls decide they want a sex session and we get a rather drawn out orgy scene with Tom and the three – in which underpants seem to remain on. Obviously the boy has stamina because somehow he manages to please the three of them multiple times until the four are all too tired to go on.

What we didn’t need during this scene was Pavo watching and relieving himself – it was more puerile than the fart gags. However it is Pavo – bizarrely – who inadvertently saves the day. You see he suddenly turns vampire and is so excited that he starts jumping up and down and causes the crypt to start collapsing! This gives a distraction the heroes need, though the film ends with a twist that you’ll see coming from a mile away.

Cushing a crossLore wise things are fairly much the norm. Garlic and crosses ward the vampires off and you can Cushing a cross together that is most effective. The vampires cannot go out in sunlight, indeed one of the vampires complains about this most bitterly as she wants a tan – and amusingly then reveals tanlines over her boobs in the orgy scene. The same vampire wonders if someone has ordered pizza, and gets rather excited about the prospect, until Richmond points out that the smell comes from garlic bulbs.

good, old fashioned stakingThe most effective method of killing a vampire seems to be a good old stake through the heart. Richmond can disappear and reappear seemingly at will. There is a crap bat syndrome moment but they appear to be natural bats rather than vampires transformed. We discover that the only alcohol that mixes well with blood is vodka and the vampires are getting heartily sick of bloody marys.

Carradine clearly having funThe film is poor – of that there is no doubt. But it is bizarrely quite watchable. Some of the jokes are puerile, some veer to offensive but Tom and Terry make a watchable pair of buffoons for the short running times. The girls are attractive – especially Karen Stride as Cherish. The thing that makes this most watchable, however, is the fact that John Carradine is clearly having such a good time – enjoying quoting Shakespeare, finding the whole event (including pimp hat) amusing.

Not a great film but strangely accessible. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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