Blu-ray Review: Vamp (Special Edition)



Vampires and strippers have always had a cinematic bond. They do share quite a few characteristics. Both do a majority of their work from sunset to sunrise. They use their charms to mesmerize their targets. They have a fondness for bleeding their victims dry. Although in the champagne room there’s less blood and mostly empty wallets. No wonder low budget filmmakers have found merging the stripper with the undead. Roger Corman produced To Sleep With a Vampire and Quentin Tarantino wrote From Dusk to Dawn. Vamp was an early entry into the vampire-stripper genre when it was released back in 1986. The film grew a proper cult audience during the glorydays of VHS rentals at mom & pop videostores. Now Vamp: Special Edition brings the after hours mix of skin and fangs to Blu-ray.

Keith (Meatballs‘ Chris Makepeace) and AJ (Weird Science‘s Robert Rusler) want to join a frat, but they really don’t want to go through the lame initiation ritual. So they strike a deal that they’ll go downtown and hire a stripper or two for a party. The duo have only one problem, they need wheels and a little cash. So they pay a visit to Duncan (Sixteen Candles‘ Gedde Watanabe). He’s a rich kid who other people use since he’s desperate to have college friends. He’s down for a visit to stripclub. The club they do choose is downtown and won’t open until after dark. They hang out at a coffeeshop waiting only to find trouble when a gang including an albino goon (The Untouchables‘ Billy Drago) arrive. This get nasty until the guys bolt across the street to the safety of the stripclub. While waiting for the headliner, their cocktail waitress (Moving Violations ‘ Dedee Pfeiffer) swears she knows Keith. He hasn’t a clue. Queen Katrina (Grace Jones) hits the stage in a dance that seems more Manhattan dance number than Dollhouse inspired. But it’s tempting enough for A.J. to sneak backstage to make her an offer for a private show. He thinks he’s getting lucky, but quickly learns the dark secret as why the club won’t open until the sun is gone. Seems like their chances of joining the frat is over.

Vamp remains a lively movie after all this time. The movie is pure ’80s with a huge amount of neon lighting the scenes. At night, the downtown glows of green and pink. The strip club is a rather scummy affair. Grace Jones’ big dance number is tantalizing. She uses a sculpture featuring Keith Haring’s work. Her body is covered in white painted Haring characters. She’s also wearing a bright orange wig that makes her look like the inspiration for Milla Jovovich’s bandage wrap look from the beginning of The Fifth Element. Jones looks even more frightening thanks to her vampire transformation. The special effects came from a top-notch crew that included multiple Oscar winner Greg Cannom who would go put the fangs in Francis Coppola’s Dracula. Chris Makepeace is right for the role of the kid stuck in a completely distorted and deadly world. The major surprise is the greatness of Dedee Pfeiffer. She is able to play her character as so innocent that you can’t tell if she might really be a bloodsucker like her co-workers. Gedde Wantanabe proves that he can be a goofy and hilarious character actor without having to put on an Asian accent. He’s able to make up for the sin of Long Duk Dong in the role of Duncan. It’s a whole new side of Wantanabe. Vamp is a fine comic vampire film since it’s so full of rich blood.

The videos is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the ’80s lighting design. There’s a richness to the neon lit spaced. The audio is LPCM Mono that sounds fine enough. The levels let you hear the noises of the club. The movie is subtitled.

DVD has all features of the Blu-ray.

One of Those Nights (44:30) allows director Richard Wenk to discuss how a producer had a poster and a concept mixing vampires and strippers. If Wenk could write a script, he’d also get to direct the film. That’s what ever screenwriter dreams about happening. Chris Makepeace comes out of hiding to talk about Vamp since he feels it is his baby. He liked how he was able to play the character that takes control and doesn’t need the protection of Bill Murray. Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe and Billy Drago also talk about their time on the film. They all have great tales of working with Grace Jones. Wenk has had a busy year working on the scripts for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and The Magnificent Seven.

Rehearsal Footage (6:41) has Grace Jones practicing how to take a bite out of her victim.

Dracula Bites the Big Apple (22:03) is Wenk’s short film that helped him land Vamp. Dracula comes to New York City when the realizes there’s a nightlife.

Blooper Reel (6:14) has plenty of screwed up moments on film. Seeing how it’s a bunch of people in a neon lit night, there’s a touch of Phil Collins to make it extra ’80s.

TV Spots (3:44) focuses on the slogan, “Every have one of those nights?”

Trailer 1 (1:27) makes us know these boys want to party.

Trailer 2 (1:58) has A.J. come out from the manhole cover to asks the audience if “You ever have one of those nights?”

Image Gallery has lots of shots of Grace. The sculpture that she dances around really was created by Keith Haring.

Arrow Video presents Vamp. Directed by: Richard Wenk. Screenplay by: Richard Wenk & Donald P. Borchers. Starring: Chris Makepeace, Grace Jones, Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe and Billy Drago. Running Time: 94 minutes. Rated: R. Released: October 4, 2016.

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