“Vamp” is an astoundingly funny horror movie from 1986 that still remains a hidden gem today.
The concept was heavily burrowed from Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours,” but with the addition of vampires.
The director Richard Wenk, (“Just the Ticket”) turns this outlandish story concept into an insightful and intelligent look at one night of extreme bad luck for our main characters.
The focus is on Keith (Chris Makepeace, “My Bodyguard”) and A.J, (Robert Rusler, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”) who want to pledge a fraternity. As opposed to doing a bunch of stupid initiation garbage, the calm and cool A.J offers to provide the frat with a stripper for a forthcoming party.
This means our two young leads have to travel to The After Dark Club on the other side of town. The only problem is that The After Dark Club is actually managed by vampires that prey on lonely drunks.
Makepeace and Rusler share dynamic screen chemistry and that is a major reason why this film works. To take this strange journey with them you have to be able to identify with these guys and believe they have been best friends for a long time.
That elevates the movie to more then just a guilty drive-in pleasure.
Sprinkle in the beautiful Dedee Pfeiffer (Michelle’s sister) as an adorable stripper from Keith’s past and you have a lively and engaging supporting cast. To improve the film ever more, Makepeace and Pfeiffer also possess some very good romantic chemistry, which draws you further into the story and deeper into the night.
Gedde Watanabe, (“Sixteen Candles”) is the other standout supporting performance that provides a wealth of the comedy as the hapless Duncan. He is rich, but has no friends. When Keith and A.J need a car to get to the other side of the town, Duncan offers to help if he can tag along and be their new buddy. Duncan is socially inept and always has the wrong remark for any occasion.
This is a nice touch to the film and allows some relief for the night of tensions.
The film’s fatal flaw is the casting of Grace Jones (“Conan the Destroyer”) as the sexy stripper and lead vampire. She looks more like a man than a woman and it’s hard to believe guys would go crazy for her. She also doesn’t have any acting talent.
Luckily, she doesn’t have that many speaking lines.
The great Greg Cannom, (“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” “White Chicks”) was behind some of the special make-up involved in this film and that aspect of the movie is exquisitely handled. The effects enable the characters to surprisingly morph instantly from humans to vampires.
When the sum of all of these parts are added up, “Vamp” is one film that never loses its bite.