Vamp (1986)


Three college boys drive to the big city to hire a stripper for a fraternity party, only to discover the strip club is really just a front for blood-thirsty vampires. Vamp doesn’t stray far from ’80s horror formula, especially in the third act, when it feels obliged to throw the kitchen sink into the fray. Chris Makepeace (My Bodyguard) lacks charisma as the underwritten main character, but his co-star Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2) makes the most of it as the best friend who becomes a vampire and feels comically conflicted about it (a sentiment that predates Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Including Rusler’s character in the story more might have helped distinguish the film.

Vamp‘s biggest asset is the enigmatic Grace Jones, who plays the queen vampire. She first appears on the strip club stage, dancing to one of the actor/singer’s own songs in white makeup and an iron bikini. She later has a sexy seduction scene, but after that she’s barely in the movie — and it’s a shame, because when she’s on screen, she commands it. The decision to make her a mute character also feels like a mis-step, unnecessarily ceding some of her power to underling characters with less ‘it’-factor.

Director Richard Wenk’s comic-bookish green/purple lighting scheme is a nice touch, and Greg Cannom’s makeup effects pass muster. In the pantheon of vampire movies, Vamp isn’t as stylish as The Hunger, as funny and exciting as The Lost Boys, or as violent and sexy as From Dusk Till Dawn. But as a vampire ‘B-side,’ it’s not too bad.

With Sandy Baron, Dedee Pfeiffer, Billy Drago, and Gedde Wattanabe (Sixteen Candles) in another thankless ‘funny Asian guy’ role.

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