Vamp (1986)

vamp 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Stripper is a vampire.

A.J. (Robert Rusler) and Keith (Chris Makepeace) are two fraternity pledges hoping to avoid a hazing by promising that they can bring in a stripper to the next frat party. They then drive into the city to check out the clubs and find a pole dancer willing to take them up on their offer. One place, which is run by the sleazy Vic (Sandy Baron), has an exotic dancer named Katrina (Grace Jones) that immediately catches their eye. A.J. is invited backstage to meet her only to ultimately be attacked once he finds out that she is really a vampire. Keith is then forced to try to escape from the place on his own with the help of a friendly waitress Allison (Dedee Pfeiffer), but finds that the entire neighborhood is infested with vampires and more popping up wherever he turns.

It’s never a good omen when the film’s first day of shooting coincided with the space shuttle challenger disaster, but on the whole writer/director Richard Wenk does his best to breathe new life into a tired genre. The humor at the beginning is amusing although it goes a bit overboard and the whole fraternity angle could’ve and should’ve been avoided as it comes off as too contrived and the story would’ve worked just fine without it.

Jones, who never speaks a word of dialogue, gives a provocative performance. I enjoyed her white-faced sultry dance and her make-up effects are frightening during the times when she morphs into a vampire.

Rusler makes for a brash and believable college dude and the film only works when he and Makepeace are together, but on his own Makepeace is quite boring. I thought he was fantastic in My Bodyguard, but here he shows no charisma and probably one of the main reasons this film has never attained much of a cult following despite being ripe for it. Gedde Watanabe and Pfeiffer are equally useless and their character’s presence wasn’t needed at all although Baron camps things up nicely as the scheming club owner.

There are a few interesting moments here and there including a rather surreal one inside an elevator, but overall it’s not too exciting. I think the biggest issue is the fact that it’s too easy to kill these vampires off. Whether it’s a wooden stake, daylight, fire, or even a cross these guys seem to have the odds stacked against them and no matter how many of them surround this novice college guy hero he somehow finds a way to off them with relative ease until it seems almost like swatting flies from a wall. At the end when he walks away from it virtually unscathed and giving the impression that it had been ‘no big deal’ resonated with me as a viewer as I felt the same way about this movie.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 18, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated R

Director: Richard Wenk

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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