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Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter Review

April 9, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter Image Credit: Synkronized/Mark Terry
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Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter Review  

Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter Review

Tim Thomerson– Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter
Derek Hengst– Benedikt
Osa Wallander– Sidney
Ken Foree– Macks the Blood Pusher
Gregory Lee Kenyon– Bakster Cumberbatch
Eva Derrek– Yale
Kimberly Sanders– Roxi
Tiffany Shepis– Spyder the Drug Pusher
Lee Perkins– Sheriff Kalisch

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Mark Terry
Screenplay by Mark Terry

Distributed by Synkronized

Not Rated
Runtime– 93 minutes

Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is currently available to rent and buy via Xfinity (with more outlets expected)

Image Credit: Synkronized/Mark Terry

Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter, directed by Mark Terry and now available to rent and buy on Xfinity (with more outlets coming soon), is a badass, bloody as hell horror action flick featuring all sorts of vampires (including vampire babies!), a samurai sword wielding priest hell bent on tracking down and killing as many vampires as he can, one wicked pipe ramp car stunt, and more decapitations than any Highlander movie made yet. Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is also a movie that resembles a movie that I reviewed way back in 2009, Live Evil (that review, which appeared in issue #73 of The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, no longer exists on the internets). It features the same general cast and the same basic story, but Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter isn’t the same movie. Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is actually something else entirely. Framing the story as a sort of live action comic book (there are multiple comic book animations that help set up the world the movie takes place in and provide scene and setting transitions, giving the story and plot a scope that it couldn’t achieve otherwise), Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is part low budget horror fantasy flick, part down and dirty grindhouse homage, and part gore soaked action extravaganza starring a true blue B-movie legend in likely his last kickass role. Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is damn near everything B-movie/exploitation movie nerds love.

Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter stars the great Tim Thomerson as the Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter (I’m just going to refer to him as “the priest” going forward), a samurai sword wielding vampire killer searching the American southwest for a foursome of vampires led by Benedikt (Mark Hengst) and his hot babe vampire girlfriend Sidney (Osa Wallander). Benedikt’s vampire gang has been trying to survive off the grid, which is incredibly difficult to do in this world because vampires are at war with one another. In this world, humanity has “polluted itself” with all sorts of diseases (AIDS, rampant diabetes, stuff like that) and a rapidly decaying environment (basically all of the pollution people keep pumping into the world, dirtying the air and water), making it very difficult for vampires to find “pure blood” to drink. Vampires can attempt to sustain themselves with “imperfect blood,” but it can be a real crapshoot for them (if a vampire takes in too much “impure blood” they will likely vomit it out). And with the world in general filled with all kinds of vampires, they’re all looking for their next human victim while fighting amongst themselves (you have “traditional vampires” that can’t go out in the sun and sleep in coffins, vampires that have their sharp teeth in their hands for some reason, and vampires that can be out in the sun and look and act like “regular” people despite being immortal, and God knows how many other types. Benedikt and his group are the “act like regular people” type vampires).

So the movie starts with Benedikt and Sidney, along with Yale (Eva Derrek) and Bakster Cumberbatch (Gregory Lee Kenyon), looking for their next supply of “pure blood” and coming up seriously short. Sidney does manage to kill a bunch of people in a diner, but it doesn’t end well for her (she was hungry but she couldn’t keep any blood down). Benedikt’s gang hits the road, only to be chased in a badass El Camino by the priest (as Sidney is killing people in the diner the priest is killing a lone vampire in the desert, chopping off the poor dude’s hand and head and stealing his gun). The chase ends with the priest losing control of the El Camino and crashing it, forcing him to eventually proceed on foot. While that is happening, Benedikt’s gang decides to go to Los Angeles to look for a steadier supply of “pure blood,” but before they actually do that they kill a bunch of people in a supermarket and then kill a family in a house they drive by (the female vampires in Benedikt’s gang “smell” the “pure blood” of the two babies in the house). While all of that is going on, the priest kills several more vampires in the desert, tries to regroup in his secret underground samurai priest vampire hunter lair, and then heads into a nearby town to get some booze and steal a vehicle. So the priest goes to a bar, meets a woman named Roxi (Kimberly Sanders), drinks some whiskey, and ends up killing more vampires. The priest attempts to take Roxi’s van, but he eventually allows her to tag along with him (she seems eager to learn to fight vampires and he’s just too tired to argue with her about taking her van).

So then some stuff happens, Benedikt’s gang heads for Los Angeles, and the priest tracks Benedikt’s carnage to the house with the dead family and finds out that there are now two vampire babies in the world. The priest decapitates one of the vampire babies, then decides to keep the other one for future vampire hunting shenanigans. As you would expect, Roxi isn’t prepared for any of this but she somehow manages to get through it all. And the priest keeps having flashbacks to when he was a child and had to apparently kill his own father, who was turned into a vampire while also filling Roxi in on the various vampire lore bits she will need to know in order to help him track down Benedikt’s gang. And the priest and Roxi are headed to Los Angeles, too.

Once the story hits Los Angeles, we find out just how depraved the vampire world really is (we also see the vampires with their mouths in their hands twice while on the way to Los Angeles via a sheriff played by Lee Perkins. Perkins messes around with Benedkit’s gang, and then he tries to take out the priest and Roxi. It doesn’t go well for Perkins). There are vampire parties put on by Macks the Blood Pusher (the immortal Ken Foree), there are vampires that like to hang out at these parties, there are regular people that like to hang out at these parties (it’s unclear if most of them think they’re actually hanging out with real vampires or if they think it’s some sort of weirdo cosplay thing), and we also find out about the vampires that need to sleep in coffins and stay out of the sunlight (it’s incredibly unpleasant). I don’t want to say any more as the rest of the movie features some nifty twists and surprises that you just don’t see coming.

The look of Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is nothing short of phenomenal. There are big Hollywood studio movies that don’t look as good as Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter. This new look also gives the movie a vibrancy that you just don’t expect. Mike Hoffman, director of Spring Beak Massacre and Girls Gone Dead (he also edited those movies) and editor of Hogzilla handled the restoration of Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter and did a great job. The comic book animated transitions, mostly put together by Alex Sarabia and Cherrae L. Stuart, help open up the scope of the movie’s plot and also help make the movie seem much, much bigger than it actually is. These animated transitions also look fantastic. The transitions do give the movie an episodic feel, which does take a few minutes to get used to (especially if you’re familiar with Live Evil) as the story doesn’t contain the immediacy it previously had. This “choppiness” isn’t a detriment, though. It really helps Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter be its own thing.

The movie’s practical special effects are thoroughly creepy and, at times, absolutely disgusting. Some of the special effects have been updated and improved (the vampire babies come across very differently), and the blood and gore is exactly what you want for this kind of movie. There’s also a moment where Tim Thomerson’s priest eats a vampire heart, actually rips off chunks of it with his teeth and chews on those chunks. It’s like that scene in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday where Richard Gant’s coroner character starts chowing down on Jason’s heart but is somehow more disgusting. The blood barfing scenes are also pretty horrendous (in a good way).

The stunt and fight work is also quite good. It’s always a treat to see actual car chases in any sort of low budget genre flick, and the two we get in Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter are terrific. The big pipe ramp flip is Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead good and one of the movie’s top scenes. Even when you know there are vampires in that car and vampires are generally immortal creatures and wouldn’t get hurt in any sort of car accident, when the car finally stops flipping you start to wonder how the hell they could have survived that crash. It’s that brutal looking. And the fight scenes are down and dirty, up close and personal type battles. The sword fighting is a little rough but it plays well anyway.

Image Credit: Synkronized/Mark Terry

Tim Thomerson is nothing short of iconic as the Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter. From the black trench coat and cowboy hat to the samurai sword, he is the full embodiment of badass vampire killer. And Thomerson, as only he can do, manages to give the priest a sense of humor that allows you to be in awe of him as a man of action and laugh with him at the absurdity of vampire babies, vampires with mouths in their hands, and a samurai sword wielding priest that walks the desert looking for more vampires to kill. This movie is likely the last time we will get to see Thomerson in a new, kick ass role like Jack Deth or Dollman (Thomerson is in his 70’s as I write this and action movies get harder as you get older), so if you’re a fan of Thomerson in general or of interesting and clever genre characters, embrace the Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter. I know I plan to. He really is that cool of a character.

Image Credit: Synkronized/Mark Terry

Mark Hengst is terrific as Benedikt, the vampire gang leader. He’s an evil bastard, sure, but Hengst also tries to give Benedikt a sort of reasonableness throughout the movie. He knows that his vampire troupe needs to stay hidden as often as possible because he doesn’t want to attract any sort of unwanted attention from either human authorities or rival vampire groups, so he tries to keep everyone in line, even when it comes time to drink blood. Benedikt isn’t one to willingly indulge in full on vampire massacres. Even when he leads the infiltration of the family house and the subsequent killing of the family he tries to keep things as subdued as possible. You just don’t see that kind of thing very often when it comes to vampires.

Osa Wallander does a nice job as Sidney, Benedikt’s girlfriend. She tries to be more openly hostile to humans and vampires compared to Benedikt (watch what she does to those yokels in the diner at the beginning of the movie), but she also takes Benedikt’s advice and listens to him when he tries to keep things quiet. Does Sidney always succeed in following Benedikt’s edicts? No, but she does try. Sidney is involved in a big twist towards the end of the movie that will make your jaw drop when it’s revealed. And that opening scene in the diner is going to live on forever because… my God. Great stuff.

Gregory Lee Kenyon does a good job as Bakster Cumberbatch, a former silent movie actor that, obviously, hasn’t aged at all since he starred in silent movies back in the day. Kenyon gives Bakster a sort of sly jester attitude, which is fun to watch (I mean, the wig he wears for most of the movie is both thoroughly ridiculous and so incredibly spot on for Bakster). Bakster also likes to drink his blood out of a coffee cup with a little piece of lemon in it for, I guess, flavor (how often do you see that kind of thing in a vampire movie?). Eva Derek is excellent as Yale, the fourth member of the vampire gang and Bakster’s girlfriend. She’s rambunctious and angry as she wants to be more open with her vampire status (and she’s also super angry with humanity for all of the world’s pollution). Yale is also devoted to going to Hollywood and seeing Marylyn Monroe’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is yet another thing you don’t expect to see in a vampire movie. Kimberly Sanders does an okay job as Roxi, the woman that ends up befriending the priest and acting as his sort of sidekick. She has a few nice moments but she doesn’t have much of a presence.

Horror legend Ken Foree does a fantastic job as Macks the Blood Pusher. While you’re not quite sure if he’s actually a vampire or just a guy that likes to hang out with vampires, it’s hilarious how Macks isn’t intimidated by any of the vampires that we know are actually vampires. It’s like Macks is an old pro at supplying vampires with their blood needs and while he generally enjoys their company he’s also getting too old to be doing what he’s doing. It’s also cool how Foree manages to rock the Hugh Hefner robe (it’s been my experience that very few people can actually pull off one of those).

Tiffany Shepis pops in for what amounts to an extended cameo as Spyder the drug pusher, a hot babe that’s doing something nefarious to a guy in a bedroom at Macks’ vampire party. Shepis also manages to make doing cocaine directly out of a plastic bag look cool as hell. And director Mark Terry shows up in a funny scene as a guy that’s just trying to get laid and wants to be responsible about it (when he announces his former STD status it will make you howl with laughter. I mean, that’s what I did).

And be on the lookout for the now late but always great Jeff Burr as a hapless guy in a bathroom. You can actually smell his scene.

Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is nothing short of a modern B-movie classic. Chock full of bloody, gore, action, and nastiness, along with a sense of humor and one final great performance by B-movie legend Tim Thomerson, it’s a movie that you should absolutely make an effort to see. It has everything. Be sure to check it out when it becomes more widely available (and if you have Xfinity be sure to check it out now. It is very much worth your time).

Long live the priest!

Long live the Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter!

See Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter. See it, see it, see it. Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is currently available to rent or buy via Xfinity with more outlets to be announced soon.

Image Credit: Synkronized/Mark Terry

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 30

Explosions: 1. It’s a big one.

Nudity?: Copious amounts of it.

Doobage: A comic book, talk of a big vampire war of some sort, a diner, bloody hand removal, bloody fellatio, decapitation, neck biting, blood spurting everywhere, vampire teeth, neck snap, heart stabbing, card dropping, head crushing, eye popping, booze drinking, serious blood barfing, a dumbfounded waitress, a desert car chase, dead body dropping, a wild flip, blood drinking via coffee cup, a little piece of lemon, attempted safe sex, wrist biting, a secret underground desert lair, supermarket attack, off screen diarrhea, talk of condoms, throat ripping, wrist eating, more neck biting, vampire gang attack in the desert, exploding lantern, man on fire, another decapitation, a flaming decapitation, sword fight, yet another decapitation, bloody heart removal, bloody heart stomping, bar stuff, bloody eye removal, gut stabbing, yet another decapitation, van stealing, multiple flashbacks, a leg cramp, baby killing, cigarette smoking, talk about pollution, baby decapitation, more flashbacks, an obviously fake driver’s license, false teeth, yet another bloody hand removal, yet another decapitation, sword throwing, serious vehicular assault, house infiltration, a human torso in a fridge, a melted head in the freezer, vampire tourists, phone tag, more blood barfing, serious nudity, head bashing, bloody gut removal, a giant afro, neck stabbing, sunlight attack, kidnapping, a vampire set on fire, a shower, another car chase, a wicked pipe ramp flipping car stunt, a church attack, a big vampire trap, face scratching, another sword fight, holy water attack, serious hand wound fixing, bucket to the head, shotgun blast to the head with exploding head, cross attack, bloody heart eating, exploding church, and a solemn walk into the desert.

Kim Richards? Big time.

Gratuitous: An opening that shows us the movie is meant to be a giant comic book, Ken Foree explaining what vampires are in this cinematic world, multiple animated comic book panels that help expand the movie’s world, a hotel motel diner, a guy wearing a leather vest with a confederate flag on the back, multiple decapitations, bloody fellatio, a samurai sword wielding priest that kills vampires in the desert and drives an El Camino, Mark Terry trying to have safe sex, Route 66, vampires that don’t burn up in the sun making fun of vampires that do burn up in the sun, Liquid Death, Jeff Burr, mirrored sunglasses, diabetes, Tim Thomerson playing a samurai sword wielding priest that kills vampires, Tim Thomerson playing a samurai sword wielding priest that kills vampires and likes to drink whiskey, vampires looking for “dessert,” Tim Thomerson wiping down a bloody sword, Tim Thomerson punching a woman, vampire babies, vampire cops, vampires that have mouths in their hands, the Hollywood sign, Tim Thomerson urinating into a coffin, a vampire checking out Marilyn Monroe’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Tim Thomerson wearing a rubber Nosferatu mask, a vampire party with topless hot babe waitresses, silent films playing in the background of the vampire party, Tiffany Shepis giving a guy drugs, Tiffany Shepis snorting cocaine out of a plastic bag, Ken Foree rocking a Hugh Hefner robe, Tim Thomerson threatening to set a vampire on fire, an explanation of the definition of “Live Evil,” Tim Thomerson torturing a vampire by repeatedly shooting it, a red BMW, a TV news update, Tim Thomerson staying in a hotel and passing the time reading a Gideon’s Bible, Tim Thomerson checking out a naked woman taking a shower, a wicked pipe ramp car flip stunt, Tim Thomerson tripping, Tim Thomerson playing a church organ, Inigo Montoya’s sword, Tim Thomerson eating a bloody heart.

Best lines: “Death is finally coming for the undead.” “Hey, good looking. You want to party?” Do you want me to blow your mind?” “Do you still want to fuck me? Yes!” “Oh, you’re good, but I used to travel these roads in a covered wagon.” “Oh, shit. Not again.” “Sorry, sister, this is for recycling purposes only.” “What kind of freak are you?” “Wait, I gotta tell you something. I had crabs like eight years ago.” “Oh, gross! What a waste! You pigs already polluted the air and the water! Why’d you have to ruin this, too?” “We’re going to LA for clean blood?” “Yummy! Looking good enough to eat.” “You ever make it with one of those golden starlets before?” “You act like you’ve never been with a woman before.” “Cut this Christ licker deep!” “They’re never in a hurry to go back to hell.” “What’ll it be, father? Whiskey.” “What the hell is going on?” “You are one raw motherfucker, aren’t you? Now is that any way to talk to a priest?” “You hit me, motherfucker!” “Goddamn vampire babies. They’re the worst.” “Search them. They’re probably all carrying… grass.” “Sorry, sweetie, I don’t fuck trash. I throw it out.” “Dead yet? Getting there.” “There? What’d you expect, a castle with flying monkeys?” “Kids know.” “In my experience the safest number is one.” “These friends of yours are pigs. I mean, look at this place.” “Did they buy it? I don’t know.” “Where are your fangs at?” “Let me guess. Blood all around?” “Did you want to hold back my hair for me?” We all know vampires are eternal beings.” “Don’t use the shower.” “When is this all going to end?” “What happened? He fucked with the car!” “Don’t stand there! This is a respectable neighborhood!” “Don’t come in here unless you’re done throwing up!” “You’re a priest? More a minister… of death.” “How long have you been sucking blood?” “Damn vampires!” “Trusting the wrong people. That’s fucked me up plenty of times.” “He’s not stopping. Neither are we.” “Don’t blaspheme!” “Oh, I will fuck him in hell!” “Shut up, run faster, and don’t trip!” “How about a little help, huh? How about a lot of help?” “What’s that smell? Priest, medium well, I think.” “Killing out of love is still killing.” “Don’t worry. I won’t let you suffer long.”

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter, directed by Mark Terry and now available to rent and buy on Xfinity (with more outlets coming soon), is a badass, bloody as hell horror action flick featuring all sorts of vampires (including vampire babies!), a samurai sword wielding priest hell bent on tracking down and killing as many vampires as he can, one wicked pipe ramp car stunt, and more decapitations than any Highlander movie made yet. Starring B-movie legend Tim Thomerson in likely his last kick-ass role and horror legend Ken Foree, Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is part low budget horror fantasy flick, part down and dirty grindhouse homage, and part gore soaked action extravaganza. Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter is damn near everything B-movie/exploitation movie nerds love and it’s absolutely something that you need in your life. See Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter as soon as you can. Long live the priest! And long live the Samurai Priest Vampire Hunter!