Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vamp (1986)

Sex and Vampirism are essentially linked. One could look at the works of Anne Rice for example, but better examples of the two mingling include Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (often credited for popularizing the modern vampire) and several Horror titles of the 60's through today. Then there are more comedic takes on the creatures of the night, which can be traced from "Roman Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers" and "Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood" (the less said about that one the better) to the likes of the show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Well, look at Richard Wenk's 1986 film "Vamp" as an attempt to mix the sexual vampire with comedic horror.

Keith (Chris Makepeace-so Notwar then?) and his buddy AJ (Robert Rusler) are two sorority pledges who decide to go to a strip joint. They need a ride, so they buddy up with the nerdy Duncan (Gedde Watanabe-yes that one) to get their. One dancer has a significant effect-the exotic Katrina (Grace Jones-yes, that Grace Jones) who has AJ under her spell. Well, in an unexpected turn of events, it turns out that Katrina and everyone else who owns the bar are vampires. Oh, and let's not forget those thugs led by Snow (Billy Drago.)

"Vamp" is a light, campy horror flick that doesn't always manage to properly straddle the line between horror and comedy, but makes for some breezy entertainment. While Rusler is rather wooden as AJ, the rest of the cast Manages to be a lot of fun. Jones steals the show as Katrina, vamping up (pardon the pun) her role with a mysterious, almost pagan sensuality and menace. Makepeace, apart from the goofy name, is fine as our hero, and more than up to task to go with the material, as is Dedee Pfeiffer as his love interest. Then there's Watanabe, who manages to play Duncan as a helpless nerd without overdoing it, which is a relief. It also helps that some of the jokes work pretty well, and while not a splatter fest, the viewer does get some bloody moments, including some mean vampire bites and a ripped out heart. Another thing I really enjoyed the use of color schemes to the movie, which really added to the whole feeling it was aiming for, and added a sense of artistry to what's an otherwise fun but far from great movie.

If the movie does suffer, it's that it doesn't go far enough. Granted, this might be due to the restrictions of the MPAA at the time, but for a movie involving vampires and a strip club, it sure doesn't "go for the jugular" as much as it should so to speak. Also, some of the humor really doesn't work as well as they should, particularly the ending, which is supposed to be lighthearted and warm, but just doesn't work out as well as the director wanted. It also doesn't help that apart from a final confrontation with Katrina, much of the final act isn't as energetic as it should be.

As it stands, "Vamp" is a movie that could have been a little better, but usually works as a breezy slice of camp with some better than adequate performances. See it during a weekend afternoon.

Rating: 6.5/10

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