Directed by Richard Wenk
Itching to be accepted into the luxurious frat house at their college after enduring sleepless nights in their current halls of residence, best buddies AJ and Keith agree to supplying the fraternity with a booze filled party complete with bangin’ tunes and a hot stripper. With music and alcohol easy to attain, the duo just need to check the final ‘item’ off their list. With the help of rich student Duncan and his set of wheels, the friends venture into the grittiest part of town to visit the After Dark strip club in order to assess and hire a piece of top talent for their frat party. Little do the guys realise there’s a reason these strippers come out after dark…
80’s teens, vampires and Grace Jones… what more could you want from camp black comedy horror VAMP? Starring A Nightmare on Elm Street 2‘s Robert Rusler as cocky, ladies-man AJ and Meatballs‘ Chris Makepeace as his shy best friend Keith, we follow the duo in their quest for comfy digs complete with cable television but first they’ve got to pass their fraternity initiation. Trading hazing for procuring a stripper seems the best and easiest way to gain entry into the best fraternity on campus and the idea of sampling the delights of the many ladies as ‘research’ doesn’t seem too bad of a night out for our two likable friends. Along for the ride with the money and the wheels is loner Duncan (Gedde Watanabe), a rich dork who’s desperate for friendship to the point where he’ll buy it. No amount of money could make AJ and Keith be friends with Keith but they agree to pretend to be his friends for a week in exchange for use of his car to bag themselves a hot babe. Those fraternity digs best be worth it!
The After Dark club has many surprises in store for AJ, Keith and Duncan. Albino gangs, old acquantainces and a mesmerising performer known only as Katrina – a quirky yet reserved performance from the one and only Grace Jones who I last saw spinning a hula hoop around her waist whilst singing her hit Slave To The Rythym at the Queen’s jubilee celebration a few years ago. Jones is the main draw of this film and although we don’t get to spend too much time with her, her scenes are definitely memorable as she puts on a mesmerising show for the clientele of After Dark. The mystery and allure of Jones makes her a perfect fit as Katrina, a woman who likes to get real close with the drifters who pass through the club.
As ‘horror’ films go, VAMP is very much at the tame end of the spectrum but it excels as a feel-good romp with horror elements. When it does pull out the fearsome fanged baddies, you do feel concerned for the protagonists as they attempt to navigate a safe passage out of the bloodsucking den they’ve found themselves in. Characters who you might have thought would fade into the background are given bigger storylines to handle which is great to see and a refreshing change to boot. At its heart though, it’s the comaraderie between the leads and the dizzy, happy-go-lucky Amaretto (Dedee Pfeiffer), a waitress at the strip club, that the viewer will invest in. The grotesque creations that appear at the sight of blood are just the icing on the cake.
Arrow Video have given VAMP a new release on Blu-ray with brand new and original artwork on a reversible cover sleeve along with special features including a Making of Vamp documentary that has interviews with its main stars Robert Rusler, Chris Makepeace, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe and director Richard Wenk, behind the scenes rehearsals of a very game Grace Jones practicing her bite scene on director Richard Wenk, a blooper real and short film Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) directed by Richard Wenk.
With its purple and green tones, smoke filled sewers and striking electronica music, VAMP is a solid slice of 80’s cheese you’ll just want to sink your teeth into. What’s not to love?