Friday, December 23, 2011


Welcome to Day 11 of the ER 12 REVIEWS OF XMAS blog series. Here at ER HQ we loves us some horror and some action but the two rarely come together in very satisfying fashion. Okay, so the success rate is probably better than the dread "horror comedy" but you know what I mean. So it was a rare treat when in the middle of this summer's, um, Summer of Action! series that I found myself not only watching but quite honestly digging a low-budget, silly-but-fun mess of an action-horror flick that made me wish it was a series of movies. Or books. Or comics. It was like coming down on Christmas morning and finding some cheapie Chinese knock-off toy filled with lead paint and toxic plastic that inexplicably turns out to be your favorite present of the day. You know it's not good for you but, damn it's fun till it breaks. Or you land in the emergency room with some kind of hideous flesh-eating syndrome they'll need House, MD to diagnose.

I spent a good part of this past spring and summer acquiring, reading and talking/reading/writing about men's adventure novels. Inspired by a trip to a used book sale and a jaunt to the awesome ActionFest in North Carolina, I found myself ditching my usual non-fiction books and graphic novels in favor of well-thumbed paperback installments from THEY CALL ME THE MERCENARY, THE CHAMELEON, SWAG, KILLMASTER, THE EXECUTIONER and, naturally, THE DESTROYER.

I'm sure one is lurking out there – and, if so, Action Guru John Grace will point me towards it – but I never stumbled upon any action-themed men's paperbacks that make forays into horror. (The awesome DEAD MAN series is excluded because it's of a more recent vintage – I'm talking 70s/80s action paperback heyday here.) Plenty of Soviets and cut-rate Bond villains get their comeuppance at the hands, pistols and rifles of our heroes, but no vampires or werewolves.

Luckily, a copy of MTI's junky fun DEATH HUNTER: WEREWOLVES VS. VAMPIRES landed on my "To Watch" pile and satisfied both my action jones and the trashy horror monkey on my back in one fell 90-minute swoop.

Is it wrong that I'd love to see/read a whole series of these?

After a pre-credit CGI-werewolf attack on some lovers, we meet a quibbling couple on an anniversary camping trip who decide to detour on a "shortcut" and find themselves low on gas with no help in sight. When they stumble upon an all-night bar in the middle of nowhere they think they'll find help. But, having seen roughly 334 variations on this tale, we know different.

Like a reverse FROM DUSK TILL DAWN the couple find themselves battling an attack from a bar-full of the undead with the wife eventually whisked away by the head bloodsucker while the husband - a sort of bland, blank everyman in the Greg Kinnear/David Hyde Pierce/William H Macy mold - escapes. Only to be attacked by a werewolf!

Saved by a mysterious stranger with an antidote, John Croix (pronounced "Cross", 'natch) battles the infection and eventually discovers that he possesses the powers of a werewolf and the ability to battle what we all know as the enemies of werewolves – vampires. An awesome training montage ensues before our hero sets off to reclaim his annoying wife from the clutches of the vampire cabal.

Don't get me wrong. DEATH HUNTER: WEREWOLVES VS. VAMPIRES appears to have a budget on par with a dinner theater production of HAIR, some most of the effects are ridiculous, the conclusion can kindly be described as "anti-climactic" and your mileage may will vary from mine. But I found this to be an entertaining check-your-brain-at-the-door action/horror "epic" and a flick that bucks the anti-MTI trend I see on most sites, including mine!

DEATH HUNTER: WEREWOLVES VS VAMPIRES is available at Amazon. If you like this review  you can read hundreds more like it at the Exploitation Retrospect website.

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