Vamp is one of many Vampire films which basically saved the genre and put a new contemporary spin on the age-old genre. The best of these were undoubtably Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark which blended the Vampire film with the Western but also a dab of film noir. Vamp plays around with the frat boy comedy which started with Animal House in 1978.
Two college boys Keith (Chris Makepeace) and AJ (Robert Rusler) want to buy their way into their college fraternity. They decide the best way to do that is hire a stripper and they borrow a Cadillac from the rich asian student Duncan (Gedde Watanabe) who insists on tagging along. They end up in a dodgy part of town but they find a strip joint and become infatuated with a stripper played by Grace Jones. Little does AJ know that she is also a vampire when he attempts to hire her backstage and the entire club is full of vampires and an escape isn’t really a possibility.
The film also comes out of the period when it seemed almost mandatory that any horror film had to also work just as well as comedy. The humour however is a bit too fraty for my liking however. However the film’s merits comes from the cinematography by Elliot Davis who has worked on many big films including the recent The Birth of a Nation but also a bunch of Steven Soderbergh’s earlier films. He takes his cues from German expressionism but also a bit of that ’80s neon glow to everything.
Grace Jones plays her role completely mute which adds an extra mystery to her character. The makeup is clearly lifted from the character of Pris from Blade Runner but if you’re gonna steal it’s not a bad place. From all accounts she wasn’t quite the diva she is known for being during the shooting and there is an amusing story involving her and a vibrator on the disc’s documentary.
Overall it’s a fun trashy ’80s horror romp in the vein of Night of the Comet but not quite in that film’s league. It was clearly as an influence on Robert Rodriguez’s fantastic From Dusk Till Dawn as was Near Dark. It never outstays it welcome which many horror films end up doing. This is the 2nd release of Vamp by Arrow but gets rid of most the previous features in favor of a newly made documentary about the film. However it still includes short film Dracula Bites the Big Apple which was also directed Vamp‘s Richard Wenk. Wenk is better known as a writer these days, he just wrote the newly release version of The Magnificent Seven.