Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: ‘Vamp,’ a film I wasn’t crazy about but which does have a following, gets a new Blu-ray upgrade from Arrow Films. Here’s my review, published July 20, 1986, in the Deseret News.

Grace Jones has a magnificent screen presence and is used in her latest film, “Vamp,” in much the same way Tine Turner was directed in “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.” That is, she is simply a bigger-than-life figure on the screen, but isn’t really required to give a “performance.”

She plays the queen of the vampires in a sleazy section of town where she and her followers can kill off transients and no one will ask questions.

Into this environment come three innocents, college boys looking for a stripper, which will get them into the fraternity they want to join.

Chris Makepeace, whom you may remember from “My Bodyguard” a few years ago, has the lead, and he reluctantly goes into the “After Dark” bar with his buddies Robert Rusler and Gedde Watanabe.

     

                           Grace Jones, 'Vamp'

Once inside, they have their choice of strippers, but they all seem to have pointy teeth. When Baron goes backstage to hire one, he meets Grace Jones, who seduces him and immediately makes a meal of him. In very graphic cinematic terms.

Watanabe, the rich kid who has provided their transportation, spends the evening getting drunk, while Makepeace runs all over the streets looking in vain (no pun intended) for Baron.

In what appears to be a variation on last year’s “After Hours,” Makepeace runs into all kinds of weirdos on the street, including a gang of nasty albinos, and various and sundry vampires.

In recent years, vampire movies all tend to lean toward comedy. This is probably because George Hamilton’s “Love at First Bite” was such a huge success. And last year, “Fright Night” also did very well.

     

But “Vamp” is more in line with another comedy from last year, called “Once Bitten,” a dreary combination of sex and gore with Lauren Hutton.

“Vamp” has the advantage of casting Grace Jones, who doesn’t speak a word of dialog in the film – she’s great. And, toward the end of the film, it does pick up and the scare factor is boosted, but for the most part, the emphasis is on exploitation, and the gore factor is way too high for my taste.

The performances are all very good, especially Watanabe, who is supposed to be obnoxious, but is just too charming for us not to like him, as was the case in “Gung Ho,” “Volunteers” and “Sixteen Candles.”

Robert Rusler, on the other hand, is playing a character obviously ripped off of Griffin Dunne in “An American Werewolf in London.”

“Vamp,” rated R for all the usual exploitation reasons, is a very sad misfire. The potential is there, but it’s never quite reached.