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September 26, 2013

Movie Review: Drive-In Collection: Death Force / Vampire Hookers

The world of Filipino exploitation film extraordinaire Cirio H. Santiago is a place anyone in love with cult films has to visit. Chances are even if you don't know who Santiago is, the odds are high, you've seen one of his films. Be it his work with Roger Corman or other productions made in his native Philippines, the director has a huge filmography. It's unfortunate though that he doesn't pop up in the same discussions that other cult filmmakers are brought up in. Hopefully this will change. Thanks to the up- and-coming genre distributor Vinegar Syndrome we are getting some of his offerings in handy-dandy drive-in double bills with The Thirsty Dead / Blood Thirst and this fine little package, Death Force and Vampire Hookers starring a pimped out John Carradine.

Death Force is a story about revenge and coconuts. Ok, I'll explain: When a couple of assholes try and kill their buddy, Doug (James Iglehart, Savage!, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) and dump him in the ocean to drown and die they find out that finishing the job would have saved them a whole lot of trouble. Doug floats to the shore of an island and is brought back to health by a couple of Japanese soldiers (that look VERY Filipino) who teach Doug the way of the sword. Here Doug slashes coconuts and plots revenge on his two buddies who are back in the city wreaking havoc by murdering just about everyone standing in their way.

Death Force is pretty violent and even has its share of gore with some bloody decapitations and shoot-outs. This version is the uncut version under its original title Vengeance is Mine, and considerably longer than previous releases so completists will be pleased to see so much extra footage retained.

Now with Vampire Hookers, instead of action we treated to some really corny humor, a little blood and the always welcome soft-core scenes. When a couple goofy sailors find themselves wanting a little trim after becoming separated from their horny friend the boys decide to hit the various sleazy hot spots to find some ladies. The sexiest dames they do find are unfortunately a group of vampires led by a mature pimp named Richmond Reed (John Carradine, House of Frankenstein, Shock Waves). The vampire hookers work out of a castle -- draining men of all their fluids. Vampire Hookers has some laughs and some ok nudity but doesn't quite hit the entertainment level of Death Force. The film materials used in this release really look fantastic so fans of the film should seek it out as it's the best it's looked on any format.

If you have yet to get your Cirio H. Santiago fix, this double-bill is an excellent place to start. To me, Death Force and Vampire Hookers are one of the better releases overall in the Vinegar Syndrome catalog. I'd actually recommended this set just for Death Force alone, but having both for what is a really great deal for these DVDs (under $15 bucks) makes this an essential purchase.

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