I felt like watching the TV Spots first. I like watching period commercials from the 80s, because it takes me back to that era, and if you’ve read enough of my reviews you know how much I liked that decade. Even though this technically falls into my personal definition of what a “memory movie” is, I had a hard time remembering if I saw this in a theater or not. As I watched the spots it finally hit me. I never saw it in a theater because I had no interest in seeing it. I remembered now seeing a flick about vampire strippers with Grace Jones just didn’t flip my boat. It’s an ’86 flick, so I was 17 and I kind of remember reading the article on it in Fangoria #56 too. I saw it on cable a year later, but in the end Vamp never made an impression on me and never thought much about , if at all, as I grew up.
Of course the farther I got away from them grand ol’ 80s, the more I missed them, and consequently whenever I come upon a little remembered flick from that decade nowadays I instantly gravitate towards it and need to watch it again, if only to have a moment of complete 80s immersion.
I’m still not a big fan of Vamp, but I appreciate it more now than I did when I first saw it. It did, however, provide me with enough nostalgia and general enjoyment this time that I’ll be adding it to my collection, putting it right next to From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). And putting it next to that movie is no accident. I hadn’t realized until I saw it last night that Robert Rodriguez must have used this flick as some kind of inspiration for his flick. For those who have seen From Dusk Till Dawn and not Vamp, Vamp is about vampire strippers who also have a memorable “head stripper vampire” at its core. Dusk had Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek in the movie, Eliza Gonzalez in the series), Vamp has Katrina (Grace Jones)! Yeah, I know, her name isn’t as cool as Rodriguez’s creation, but she’s still a hot piece of deadly vampire ass.
She works at the After Dark Club in what appears to be the more “questionable” part of the city, and that isn’t by accident either. These vamps have something in common with the wolves in Wolfen (1981), both feed on the humans society won’t miss, the homeless, the transients, the loners, the forlorn, the morally bankrupt, etc. And just like in Wolfen all goes well until they accidentally kill someone who’ll be missed. In Vamp it’s collegian, AJ (Robert Rusler). He and his two buddies, Keith (Chris Makepeace) and Duncan (Gedde Watanabe) decided to go into the city and hire a stripper for their fraternity party when the local girls AJ knows wouldn’t get naked for them and a bunch of random guys. The After Dark Club ends up being just a random pick from a newspaper ad.
The main draw in this club is Katrina (Jones, who has no dialogue at all in this flick outside of some grunts and growls). Like Santanico she’s been around for a long time, a sarcophagus in her lair hints at lineage going back to ancient Egypt. After the kids see her perform they think she’s the one they need, so AJ goes up to a random girl working there and asks if he can talk to her. She escorts him back to Katrina’s dressing room where Katrina seduces him and sucks him dead . . . of blood, on the neck, I mean.
Things go from bad to worse for Keith and Duncan as they’re now stuck in this club and this part of town until they can find AJ, because when questioned by Keith that girl who brought AJ back there claims she never did such a thing. It’s eventually revealed most of the girls there are vampires, except for this one chick who also acts as waitress, Allison (Dedee Pfeiffer). She knows Keith from grade school, but Keith cannot remember her and show won’t remind him until she’s ready. Her little running joke throughout the movie.
But vampires aren’t the only threat Keith, Allison and Duncan have to watch out for. When they first drove into town they accidentally made enemies of a local gang that actor Billy Drago is leader of. He plays albino, Snow, and he’s got the best line in the whole movie. It’s at the end, when he and his gang run into the vamps on the street and they snarl at him. He then glances at one of his gang members and calmly asks, “What gang is this?” just before a little girl leaps at him. His delivery of that line is priceless in my book. Snow and his buddies pop up occasionally to menace Keith before he gets killed.
What didn’t make any sense to me at all is why vampires would have barrels of gasoline in their lair. Keith offs the vamps with bow and arrow, stake and fire and having these barrels in their lair makes no sense, because once down there Keith tips them all over and lights them up, killing them all.
Once the movie gets into the wee hours of the night it becomes very stylized, one of the things I liked about it. Magenta and green are the primary colors that awash most everything. It reminded me of Creepshow (1982) and From Beyond (1986).
I also love the all star cast. Makepeace I always remember from My Bodyguard (1980), Rusler always reminds me of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and Sometimes They Come Back (1991), Pfeiffer, even though I’ve seen her in a ton of movies, always reminds me of The Horror Show (1989) and Watanabe is synonymous with Gung Ho (1986) and Volunteers (1985).
FX Artist Greg Cannom’s effects are stellar, especially the look he gave Jones when she vamps out! Those fangs she sports are huge!
Anchor Bay first released Vamp back in 2001, then Image Entertainment acquired it, and many other titles Bay put out, and re-released it on DVD and blu-ray (first time) in 2011. Arrow Video has a UK counterpart in release that happened back in 2014. This blu-ray here (having come out back on October 4th) is its U.S. debut!
(Reverse cover art in the middle)
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—English LPCM mono—English SDH subs only
Transfer looks fantastic!
Extras included . . .
- One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp (44.29)
- Behind-the-scenes rehearsals (6:41)
- Blooper Reel (6:13)
- Image gallery (59 photos)
- Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) (22:03)
- First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher
- Trailers & TV Spots
Buy It Here On Amazon!
I recently found out the 2001 Anchor Bay DVD came with a cast commentary that did not get ported over for this blu or the U.K. blu, though that one does have a commentary, a new one with Rusler only from the cast. Outside of the movie itself the other big draw on this edition is the ‘One Of Those Nights‘ doc that actually managed to corral all the stars, except Grace Jones. And all the stars (no idea what Jones thinks of it) still love the movie too! They even got Billy Drago for an interview!