Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Vamp (1986)

June 5, 2012

Vamp (1986) movie posterby Peter Nielsen

The two fraternity pledges, Keith and AJ, finds the whole initiation mumbo-jumbo they’re being put through, stupid and immature and instead strike up a deal with the frat-leader. They are to get strippers for a big party and that’ll be their ticket in. Piece of cake, right? No, not really, and after striking out on every phone-call he makes, AJ starts checking ads in the paper. He and Keith settle on one called The After Dark Club, but unfortunately needs a car to get there and none of them owns one.

This is where token Asian guy, Duncan (?), comes in. He’s played by Gedde Watanabe (Sixteen Candles, Gremlins 2: The New Batch) and is the rich student on campus. He has a bunch of cars for rent, but the guys were hoping to borrow instead of actually paying for one. Duncan only allows this IF they agree to take him with them AND pretend to be his friends, and since they’re desperate they go along with it.

Keith and AJ are played by Chris Makepeace (Captive Hearts, The Falcon and the Snowman) and Robert Rusler (Weird Science, Thrashin’). Two actors I’m sure you’ll recognize, if not by name, then at least by their faces. The three friends set off on what is supposed to be an easy “quest” and during the ride to the city, Keith and AJ share a little… shall we say “moment” when they’re singing a song together. Badly!

Katrina doin' her thang!

Katrina doin’ her thang!

Upon arriving in the city, they behave kind of “touristy” and don’t pay attention to where they’re going, resulting in them almost crashing the car. The swerving sends it into a spin! A very exaggerated spin which goes on and on and on… and on! When it finally stops, it’s like they’ve arrived in a completely different part of town.

It’s a weird scene and I’m sure it’s supposed to symbolize that they have now entered into the “Vamp” universe, so to speak! Duncan needs a toilet-break so they stop at a little coffee-shop and this is where they first meet AND anger Snow and his gang of misfits. Snow is, fittingly enough, an albino and is played by Billy Drago.

Snow and his goons.

Snow and his goons.

You might recognize him as Frank Nitti in The Untouchables or as John Bly in the TV-show The Adventures of Brisco County JR which also starred Bruce Campbell. After AJ “tenderizes” Snow’s private parts rather violently they leave and soon arrive at The After Dark Club, but don’t worry! They’ll run into Snow and his goons again.

The club is a fairly standard strip-joint run by Vic (Sandy Baron from Birdy and Leprechaun 2) and his bouncer Vlad (Brad Logan from Trancers). Standard might not be strictly correct, because little things we see would suggest otherwise. Like the bowl filled with, Vic’s favorite snack, live bugs.

There might be something slightly strange about the club’s main attraction too. Her name is Katrina and she does a little number wearing nothing but a miniscule metal bikini and body-paint! She’s played by the great Grace Jones (Conan the Destroyer, Boomerang) who doesn’t utter a single word throughout the entire movie.

Katrina about to chow down on AJ.

Katrina about to chow down on AJ.

AJ soon finds out what the story is concerning Katrina, though… Yup, you guessed it! She’s a vampire! An ancient one from what I understand! Things kind of go downhill from here and the rest of the movie is spent getting away from vampires and Snow’s gang, saving AJ or in Duncan’s case… drinking as much as possible before last call.

Oh, wait! I almost forgot Amaretto, one of the waitresses/strippers, who apparently knows Keith from a long ways back. Keith doesn’t remember her, even when she tells him that her real name is Allison. This becomes like a running theme throughout the movie where she tries to jog his memory from time to time. She’s played by Michelle Pfeiffer’s younger sister, Dedee. She’s a bit much at times and almost annoying at others, but her heart’s in the right place and she kind of grows on you.

Duncan and Keith meet Amaretto.

Duncan and Keith meet Amaretto.

Vamp is a movie which has too much horror and gore for it to be a comedy and too much funny and silly stuff for it to be a straight up horror flick. It falls into the hard-to-define category of horror/comedy flicks that were pretty popular in the 80’s. Some of them were good (Monster Squad) and some of them not so good (Transylvania 6-5000), although I have to admit to the latter one being one of my guilty pleasures. Vamp falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not good but it’s not bad either and I’ve actually found it entertaining enough to have seen it several times.

It’s a very typical 80’s style movie, you know, with the clothes, the hair-styles, the way they talk and also the colors. Come to think of it, even the vampires themselves are very “80’s”. Nowadays, vampires in movies look almost “tame” in their effort to be cool, whereas back in the days, when they were all “vamped-out”, they looked like some kind of demon from a demented level of hell. Now I’m not saying that that’s the case in all “new” vampire movies, because the creatures in 30 Days of Night for instance, look all sorts of nasty. All I’m saying is that the trend now seems to be leaning towards the “shiny-pretty-boy-next-door” kind of look. The head vampire, Katrina, in Vamp however, is nothing of the sort. She is BAD-ASS looking!

What also struck me while I was watching Vamp this time, was how similar it actually is to Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Maybe the writers of that one, Robert Kurtzman and Quentin Tarantino, saw Vamp and had it swimming around in the back of their minds while thinking up From Dusk Till Dawn. I don’t know! It could’ve happened, right?
One last thing before I leave you… I just love the original poster for this one! The one with the red lips and the title-letters extending down to form fangs! Simple and effective!

So until next time, my friends… if you’ve seen Vamp and like to share your thoughts with us, the comment section is all yours!


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2 comments on “Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Vamp (1986)

  1. Nice write up Peter. I loved Vamp years ago when I last saw it. I always thought Chris Makepeace looked like a very young Mel Gibson. One i’ll have to dig out again soon.

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