Horror Movie Review: Vamp (1986)

“All this for a fucking fraternity.”

Vamp is a 1986 American comedy horror film directed by Richard Wenk, co-written by Wenk and Donald P. Borchers, and starring Grace Jones and Chris Makepeace.

Two college students, Keith and AJ (Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler), want to hire a stripper to buy their way into a campus fraternity. They borrow a Cadillac from lonely rich student Duncan (Gedde Watanabe). He insists on coming with them to scope out strip clubs in a nearby city. The three boys find themselves at a club in a shady part of town, and are impressed by a surreal artistic stripper, Katrina (Grace Jones). AJ visits her dressing room to try and convince her to come strip for their college party. Katrina seduces AJ, then pins him down – killing him with a fatal bite to the neck.

Keith becomes concerned at his friend’s delay and gets help from a waitress named Amaretto (Dedee Pfeiffer). She keeps insisting that she knows him, much to his confusion. They search the neighbourhood, and Keith is separated from her while trying to escape from both a psychotic albino street gang (lead by Billy Drago), as well as from vampires throughout the area. While hiding in a dumpster, he finds AJ’s discarded body, so he calls the police. Upon returning to the club to accuse the owners, the vampires have preempted him by bringing AJ back to the club as undead. AJ confesses to Keith that he’s now a vampire, and after realizing that Keith will not kill him and is willing to die for him, AJ stakes himself with a piece of broken furniture. Keith, Amaretto, and Duncan flee the club, but their car is rammed by vehicles driven by vampires.

Will they ever escape this part of town? Has the search for a stripper been abandoned for good?

If Vamp has one thing going for it, it’s that it’s certainly original. Released the same year as the classic Fright Night and the year before The Lost Boys, Vamp clearly came out during a time when vampire movies were hot but does it even come close to such memorable classics? The short answer is, unfortunately no. But I can guarantee you’ll be in for an unpredictable ride.

Vamp’s plot is pretty simple and contains characters with very little depth but you’d be amiss to say that there’s nothing there at all to enjoy. This film has all the eccentricity and wackiness of the 80’s. It uses colours, lighting and interesting looking characters to great effect. You may be confused when you first see Grace Jones perform her strangely artistic performance, in a place it definitely doesn’t fit. But at the very least during this movie you’ll never be bored.

I enjoyed the main characters, AJ and Keith. I found them likeable and they had their funny moments. This film is described as a horror comedy but I would say that’s a stretch. The comedy is there but it’s not knee slappingly hilarious. For a movie set in a strip club, you’d probably expect to see quite a bit of nudity. However even that is quite restrained too. Additionally, the horror is there too but it could have gone much further. The effects are on par with other vampire movies of its time. Some effects are reminiscent of Fright Night itself.

As I just mentioned, Vamp isn’t particularly hilarious or particularly gory. But all of that can be pushed to the side if you have an excellent main vampire. In Lost Boys we have the unforgettable David and in Fright Night we have the memorable Jerry. Then in Vamp we have… Katrina. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Grace Jones and I’m sure she was doing her very best. But she literally has no lines. Not one word is spoken by her in this movie, it’s all about her wacky image. It’s due to this mistake I feel that Vamp slipped through the cracks and will forever remain an underrated, hidden gem.

Over all, if you enjoy cheesy entertainment where a movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, vampires in strip clubs and a terrified 80’s guy running through a sewer, then Vamp is certainly worth checking out.




Vamp
  • The Final Score - 7/10
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