Grace Jones plays a vampire in this effective 1980s horror comedy
Director Richard Wenk’s debut film is a vampire-themed horror comedy from the 1980s with singer Grace Jones playing a nightclub stripper with a deadly secret. Two fraternity pledges head to a bad part of town looking to find a stripper for their buddies, only to end up embroiled with bloodthirsty vampires and street punks.
Having already had roles in Conan the Destroyer and A View To A Kill, Grace Jones plays the silent but deadly Katrina in Vamp. Her presence alone adds a necessary touch of Hollywood glitter in this campy but fun tale of vampirism that could have only been made in the 1980s. It’s a role that offers little dialogue beyond a few sinister vocalizations, relying on her uncanny appearance.
Playing up her exotic beauty with elaborate make-up and a bizarre striptease routine, Katrina is a stripper at a seedy nightclub in a remote part of town. Katrina also happens to be a savage vampire with a taste for human flesh, surrounded by a ring of helpers and minions willing to serve her at the After Dark club.
Keith (Chris Makepeace from Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler) are close friends pledging a fraternity. Looking to make an impression, they announce they’ll bring a stripper in for entertainment. They talk a needy Asian student looking to make friends, Duncan (Gedde Wantanabe), into using his car and money looking for said stripper. Before heading to the After Dark club, the trio will run into a street gang led by a pale Billy Idol-wannabe called Snow (Billy Drago).
When Keith and AJ finally make the club, AJ thinks Katrina is the perfect stripper to bring back for the fraternity. A waitress at the club played by Dedee Pfeiffer keeps talking to Keith, hoping he will remember her from an earlier encounter. Things will soon get out of hand as Keith and AJ are separated at the club by vampires.
Vamp is not a cheap-looking film from New World Pictures
Vamp is not a cheap-looking film from New World Pictures
Vamp is a fun, entertaining romp with the college students getting stuck in the middle of vampires, strippers and street punks. Four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula) delivers a great array of special effects. Vamp is not a cheap-looking film from New World Pictures, Roger Corman’s distribution label. Grace Jones as Katrina practically steals the movie with her strangely alien performance as a sinister yet sexy vampire.
The tone perfectly mixes lighter moments with legitimate horror thrills. Director and co-writer Richard Wenk puts together a slick package of fun characters with a few deft twists and turns. Everyone in the cast looks like they are having a blast in their roles, even in the darker moments. Comedian Sandy Baron contributes a great deal as the weary, worn nightclub manager always prattling on about Las Vegas.
Vamp is classic horror fun from the 1980s with some wonderful set pieces, including an ominous opening that spoofs Gothic horror. Overlooked when it was first released, the movie deserved better. This is a tight script with enjoyable characters, made more fun by a great cast. There is no reason to miss it for vampire fans.
This is actually not the first time Arrow Video has issued Vamp on Blu-ray. Some years ago they issued it in the UK in a solid release. I can report the new transfer is largely the same from that version. By the standards of horror from the 1980s, Vamp looks outstanding on Blu-ray.
A small digital glitch from the earlier transfer has been fixed on this new dual release in the UK and US. This disc also boasts a new AVC video encode. The new presentation is slightly brighter. It’s a mild difference with roughly the same picture quality. Some will prefer the tighter contrast of the older release.
The main feature is encoded in high parameters on a BD-50. This is a film-like transfer with excellent fine detail and negligible dirt. Apparently Lakeshore Entertainment is responsible for the high-definition transfer, going by the included booklet. Grain reproduction is nigh perfect. Color saturation is crisp for this film stock, especially the pastel tones. Minor and incidental blemishes mark the film elements. The presentation offers a slightly window-boxed 1.78:1 aspect ratio at 1080P resolution.
For the sake of completeness, Image Entertainment issued Vamp in Region A a few years ago. That disc has long been out of print. Given Image Entertainment’s typical standards, it’s safe to say this Arrow Video release surpasses it in video quality.
The audio for Vamp is heard in adequate 1.0 PCM mono sound. It’s not outrageously dynamic or engaging. Dialogue is clean and intelligible. The New World Pictures’ production has fairly standard fidelity for this type of cheesy b-movie horror. There are no significant problems but nothing stands out in the ordinary audio.
Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.
While this new Arrow Video reissue of Vamp includes an excellent, new documentary with many of the central cast members, it does lose a commentary and some special features from the older UK release. The new documentary is worth watching, covering a lot of fun anecdotes and stories from the production. It’s up to Arrow Video’s usual standards of informative documentaries.
First pressings will include a booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher.
- One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp (44:30 in HD) – A brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk and actors Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
- Behind-the-scenes rehearsals (06:41 in SD)
- Blooper Reel (06:14 in SD)
- Two Vamp Theatrical Trailers
- Image gallery
- TV Spots
- Dracula Bites the Big Apple (22:03 in SD) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film that started his career in filmmaking.
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review as a pre-production screener. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
An overlooked horror gem from the 1980s with a creepy Grace Jones performance and loads of campy vampire fun.
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