The Film (3.5/5)
Keith and AJ (Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler) are desperate Frat Pledges who want to avoid the usual stupid pranks to become part of the coolest Fraternity on campus. AJ comes up with the brilliant idea of bringing a high-class stripper to one of the Frat parties. Realizing they don’t have a car, they go and try to bribe rich kid oddball Duncan (Gedde Watanabe). The three are now on their way to the big city and find the prefect strip club that is only opened “after dark”. As the three get sucked into the night, they soon realize that this club and its bizarre dancer named Katrina (Grace Jones), may be more then they seem.
In recent years, VAMP (1986) has been called out as an inspiration on the Quentin Tarantino scripted and Robert Rodriguez directed FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN (1996). Both films genre switch around the 45-minute mark into vampire action films, but VAMP is a little more light-hearted and Tongue in cheek. VAMP is more of a fusion of FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) with some John Hughes teen comedy. The movie begins with the silly Frat house shenanigans and then switches into vampire stripper mayhem. But Richard Wenk’s script makes VAMP a proud member of the single night comedies of hell of the 1980’s, like Martin Scorsese’s 1985 comic classic, AFTER HOURS.
As Comedies go, VAMP is hit or miss, with some pretty bad stinker jokes. Some of the Vampires, mainly the vampire kids, are too silly to work and their comic timing is way off. The two main leads are likable, with Robert Rusler (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2)’s AJ being the more enjoyable. Some of the best set pieces involve AJ as a vampire and his bipolar switches between Vampire and human. Chris Makepeace (MEATBALLS) is a little too spaced out for my taste, but he rises to the challenge during the third act. It’s always neat to see Billy Drago (Brian De Palma’s THE UNTOUCHABLES) in an offbeat part, but the bizarre stand out is of course Grace Jones. Grace Jones (A VIEW TO A KILL) is such a weird of the moment presence that’s it’s hard to believe she wasn’t cast in more horror films. The movie shows off her out their style and her performance art dance number is kind of off putting. But hey it’s a vampire strip club after all.
While some of the comedy doesn’t work, the movie looks amazing. The Mario Bava style green and pink lighting, give the city an alien planet feel and makes me wish more modern films would do the same. The camera work is smooth and impressive, adding way more suspense. The special effects also do an excellent job at creating some intense looking vampire, especially Grace Jones in fang mode. VAMP isn’t a classic in the way of FRIGHT NIGHT or Tony Scott’s THE HUNGER (1983), but it’s a fun horror comedy that is worth a look.
VAMP comes with an English LPCM 1.0 channel audio track. The sound mix sounds wonderful with plenty of good sound effects and music. Nothing overshadows the dialogue or has loud peaks. There’s no noticeable problems like crackles or pops. The mix also highlights some of the wonderful creature noises and odd choices of alien background sounds. Easy to read English subtitles are included.
The movie comes with an out of this world fantastic 1080p HD transfer. The movie has some natural film grain and well balanced black levels. The movie’s mostly green and pink color scheme looks fantastic. The movie is dripping with style and eye popping colors. One stand out moment is Billy Drago’s car driving through a huge smoke cloud in the green mist. Some of the creature effects look more fake with this crystal-clear transfer, but overall the make-up and production design shine.
Arrow has given VAMP a handsome slate of extras for fans. First up is the 40+ minute documentary One of those Nights, which has cast and crew talking about all aspects of the movie. Some of the funniest bits involve crazy stories about Grace Jones on set and her outrageous fashions. Director Richard Wenk comes off as a nice guy and is very frank about the limited time and stress of the movie. It’s also great to see most of the cast members excited to talk about this movie. Robert Rusler, Chris Makepeace, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe, and Billy Drago all share wonderful insight into the film. Next up is some rehearsal footage showing off some of Grace Jones’s wild on set behavior. Richard Wenk’s award winning short, “Dracula Bites the Big Apple” is included. TV spots, two trailers and an image gallery finish up the disc material. As for the packaging, VAMP comes with reversible cover art and a 23- page booklet of liner notes with a Cullen Gallagher article and transfer notes.
VAMP may not be a classic, but it was sure a blast to watch. The comedy mostly works and if you can handle the wild style of Grace Jones, you’re in for a good time. Arrow give the movie a fantastic transfer and a good slate of extras. Recommended.