VAMP

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

There is nothing more joyous than seeing a film you have never seen before decades after it's original release and appreciating it on that level. Get ready for another winner in Arrow Video's cult output.

Richard Wenk's Vamp (1986) is an unsung gem of the horror and vampire genres and one that both respects the past, as well as being ahead of it's time, considering the likes of The Lost Boys, From Dusk Till Dawn, Twilight, The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. In terms of tone, it is not dissimilar to Tom Holland's Fright Night (1985). As you may have gathered, these examples have certainly gained far more widespread exposure than this film, which did minimal business back in 1986. In the UK, it was marketed more on the appeal of Grace Jones, who was enjoying considerable exposure following her performances in the likes of Conan The Destroyer and A View To A Kill, as well as gaining some notoriety from her infamous appearance on the late Russell Harty's chat show, in which she slapped the host for ignoring her. To some, this is more memorable that anything she has done in film or song.

As time has passed, the focus of Vamp has been less on Jones and more on the whole film completely, which tells of a pair of jocks who one night decide to make their way, via a car loaned to them by a geek Oriental, to a strip club, where they meet a good-hearted stripper (Dedee Pfeiffer) and one of the jocks is led backstage, where he is introduced to queen stripper Katrina (Jones) and seduced. However, it becomes apparent that this strip club is a front for far darker forces at work.

Vamp is a refreshingly witty and innovative entry into the horror genre, right up until the very end of the film, with much of the same atmosphere that lifted The Lost Boys to ‘80s horror legend. Indeed, co-star Billy Drago reminds one in this film of Kiefer Sutherland and he certainly has that same trademark leer you could see in his other films of the time, like Invasion U.S.A (1985) and especially his performance as Frank Nitti in De Palma's The Untouchables (1987). 

Grace Jones is actually very good in this film, probably more to do with the fact that she doesn't speak any lines of dialogue and her performance, rather like Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, is based on physical interpretation and presence. Overall, it is perfect casting and a true ace in the hole.

This remastered Blu-Ray also heightens the impact and style of the film, which is a wonderful mix of atmosphere and colour and, considering this film was released a good decade before From Dusk Till Dawn, is ground-breaking for that reason. It also is a slow-burner of horror, building up gradually and nicely to a suspenseful climax in the sewers.

Special mention must also go to make-up artist Greg Cannom's work, which rivals Bottin and Baker for excellence. Wisely, effects are revealed subtly and there are one or two nice and neat effects shocks in the mix as well. 

Hopefully, this time around, Vamp will not be relegated to an also-ran space on a VHS library, like it was back on it's original release and finds its rightful pride of place among many horror fans’ collections or on their “must watch” lists.

Special Features: Making Of Documentary / Subtitles / Behind The Scenes Rehearsals / Image Gallery / Blooper Reel / Short Film / Booklet

VAMP (1986) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: RICHARD WENK / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD WENK, DONALD P. BORCHERS / STARRING: GRACE JONES, CHRIS MAKEPEACE, DEDEE PFEIFFER, ROBERT RUSLER, GEDDE WATANABE, BILLY DRAGO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW 




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