Description on the hind of the box: “Welcome to the After Dark Club. THE HOTTEST ACTS IN TOWN. Let the ferocious temptress Katrina (Grace Jones) weave her web of divine passion – but please look, don’t touch. Let owner Vic buy you a drink on the house – it may be your last!” Then further down it states, “VAMP – it’ll bite you DEAD!” Forgive me, I’m not even touching that quote.
Ah, the year of 1986. The year of birth for Rebekah Herzberg and the year of another hybrid sub-genre that incorporates frat comedy and horror. My tender age was unable to stop me from discovering this depth-less vampire flick on the shelves of my local video store when I was eight, “Well this looks interesting. Nana, I want this one!” The tagline reads, “Ever have one of those nights?” If one of those nights includes shaking under a sheet with sprinkled popcorn and jolt cola after being panic-stricken by Grace Jones as a bloodcurdling vampire then YES! Yes I have!
Keith (Chris Makepeace) and A.J. (Robert Rusler) are best friends. These two stereotypical college frat boys misbehave during their mediocre initiation to get into the hottest fraternity on campus. To prove that they’re worthy of joining this fraternity for the sake of getting their wang’s wet, the two decide to go along with this brilliant plan to hire a stripper for their next keg party. The only problem is that neither has a set of wheels and they don’t know any felines willing to take their clothes off. There’s only one solution! Find a rich kid who is naive enough to lend their vehicle or inevitably become an escort. They talk asian Duncan (Gedde “Oh Sexy Girlfriend” Watanabe) into driving them to a strip club. Before they make it to the ominous club they have a run-in with a biker gang who orders 6 cups of coffee. The leader of this biker gang is an albino named “Snow” and their wench has fucked up teeth but in her defense, the package is rather attractive on the outside. Some how, the boys pull out their brass balls and puts the gang to shame before heading off to The After Dark Club to gawk at naked ladies and find a suitable candidate for the frat party.
The lucky girl is the mystifying Queen Katrina (Grace Jones.) Katrina’s dance is highly unusual and a little frightening but the boy’s mind’s are set. A.J. pays Katrina a visit back stage and in return she buries her sharp fangs into his neck, graphically. After the kill she leans back as she chokes up this harrowing laugh. The make-up effects are exceptionally effective and her toe nails are freakishly long. Meanwhile, Keith has a run-in with a waitress, cleverly named Amaretto, who recognizes him as that boy she kissed during spin the bottle some years ago. Amaretto (Dedee “I’m Michelle’s younger sister” Pfeiffer) is new to the club so she is unaware of the dangers that lurk but there’s something ‘off’ about Amaretto as well. Soon it becomes apparent that the only way out of the club is in a body bag. Keith, Amaretto, and Duncan have to defeat the blood suckers and pray the sun swiftly rises. As if running for your lives from nasty vampires isn’t enough, Snow and the gang make another appearance in hopes to settle the score. Spoilers are not necessary here but I can say that the ‘surprise’ ending is nothing special, “Formica. Who knew?” Then I am left with an empty satisfaction, “That’s it????? Why was I so scared of this movie?”
Katrina’s dance is bizarre but inept and she’s not very attractive. I do find actress Grace Jones to be attractive and as Roger Ebert puts it, “One of the great undiscovered countries of contemporary entertainment.” There’s something so magical about Jones and her look, I cannot quite explain it. However, I was disappointed in the look of the character Katrina and her performance on stage. The red hair, white painted face, red lips, and body art stood out as decorative but it’s not one of her best looks. More importantly, someone should have taught Jones how to dance. It’s easily one of my least favorite strip dances on film. She shakes her head a lot and glides around the stage with fearful eyes as if she is terrified of an unknown presence. Though Jones is our central villain and on the cover art, she only appears in a few scenes. Much like Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. Jones has several credits to her belt but other than Conan the Destroyer nothing stood out enough for viewers to take notice.
The club’s atmosphere is eerie with a likable owner who fears Katrina but also takes pride in his establishment and hopes to one day take on Vegas. “Anyone want to claim this lush? I’m trying to run a respectable business here.” Sandy Baron brilliantly portrays the owner who dreams of Vegas and takes pride in his work. This is where the comedy ensues. The man places an umbrella in one of the customer’s drinks, reminding the waitress that this club was all about class after snacking on roaches. CLASS! The vampire effects really are impressive but the dancers and characterization are not. Maybe I have seen Stripped to Kill and Flash Dance too many times. Maybe it’s because I am a bartender at a strip club. I was severely disappointed in the acts on stage.
I am not familiar with director and writer Richard Wenk’s work but his directing skills in Vamp stood on its own. It’s a shame he was unable to make it big. He wrote the screenplay for The Expendables 2 but I cannot say that is a franchise I will ever have any interest in. The acting was mostly decent but sub-par for the remainder. As for the dialogue, there are only a few quotes that are likeable. Mostly, “Buzz this!” There’s also, “I’m in the mood for love. Simply because you’re naked.”
Vamp is hardly on the same level as Fright Night and The Lost Boys. A strong cult following is non-existent and that may be because the film isn’t memorable enough for such a strong following. Even the score is lacking and is easily forgettable. Though there are many flaws, Vamp is still entertaining as hell with tubular 80s fashion and frat boy humor. It’s not only saturated in blood, it’s saturated in neon, sex, and campy humor. You might say this film pre-dates From Dusk ‘Til Dawn and it has a lot of charm. The vibrant neon colors stand out as the most lucrative element the film has to offer. It’s funny, I now own the exact same copy that I use to rent at my local video store. It’s in pristine condition with a lovely trailer for “Transylvania 6-5000.” New World Video hashed out some goodies in the 80s.