Director: Richard Wenk
Robert Rusler/ AJ
Two college students (Makepeace and Rusler) hit the big bad city to find a stripper aka adult entertainer aka pole acrobat aka girl that takes off clothes for coin, in order to hire her to get accepted into a frathouse. They eventually find some bobbly dames all right; problem is...they’re all vampires led by femme-animal Grace Jones who’s wearing a metal bra. Let the party begin!
Ever have one of those nights?
Well, slap me silly with a hammer. I put "Vamp" in my player expecting a half decent generic offering and instead got one hell of a clever movie that aspired to be the “After Hours” of the horror genre and that succeeded at it, most of the time. Who knew? I sure didn’t! But before I get into it all, last things freaking first: a moment of silence please for my Robert Rusler awakening.
As I was watching "Vamp", it suddenly hit me like five STDs at once. I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on this before! Robert Rusler is easily one of the hippest cats from the 80’s! He’s just that guy being that guy! You know that dude you want to hang with, that chicks want to ride, that you want to be? Yes…that guy! Rusler’s engaging charisma has upped the enjoyment of every picture he’s been in, be it as the unforgettable Grady in "Nightmare on Elm Street 2" or the undead greaser in "Sometimes They Come Back" and he does it again here in "Vamp". What’s wrong with me? How could I not have seen this before? Robert Rusler is the shit-kicker kicking some shit! Somebody should start an annual Robert Rusler Day where we would celebrate this slick actor with beers and hors d’oeuvres all around. Long Live Robert Rusler!
Sorry about that little side-track, it had to be said out loud. Now back to the movie. The first hour of "Vamp" was pure and priceless gold in its sharper than a razor blade screenplay and execution. We get a fly-by-your-pants pace, one gripping plot turn after the other, a bucket load of sweet kookiness, an earnest sense of humor and mucho tight dialogue that just kept buttering my ear. Lucky for us, all of those goodies were backed up by a loveable and talented starring cast of the likes of Corey Haim wannabee Chris Makepeace, endearingly spunky Dee Dee Pfeiffer and the aforementioned kool as ice, Robert Rusler. The groovy side players were also a hoot to watch (all about Vic played by Sandy Baron) and the many foes at hand were highly entertaining (loved that Albino gang…was that Billy Drago?) Wrap all of that meat in a polished, colorful visual style and a sly use of 80’s tunes that often contributed to the offbeat vibe at play, and you get a horror piñata which proudly wears its uniqueness on its belt buckle.
Of course, I couldn’t go on with this review without mentioning 80’s novelty Grace Jones as the lead vamp. Although her screen time was limited, her extensive “you have to see it to believe it” dance routine alone scared the living shit out of me and left quite the impression. What a weird broad! I have to hand it to Miss Jones: one side of me wanted to nail the living daylights out of her, while the other side was very, VERY frightened by her…which actually made me want to bang her even more!! All that to say, the crazy dame’s presence in this film was much welcomed.
On the dull side of the fangs, the character of Duncan (played by Gedde Watanabe) was a hit and miss with me. At times, I thought he was amusing, at others, I wanted to sharpen my knife with his head. The film’s biggest fault though was that its last half hour or so fell into a more standard mold, with bloody vamp carnage kicking in. Sure, the messy physical games were entertaining, but they paled in comparison to the novel chain of events that preceded them. Incidentally, did I smell some "From Dusk Till Dawn" in there? I think I did! I’m sure Tarantino saw "Vamp" before penning his own bloodsucker opus. The similarities were uncanny! Lastly, the final frames of the film kind of blew pea soup. They tossed logic aside and it felt too much like a tacked on "test screening"-induced decision.
Overall though, "Vamp" made my night a very fulfilling one by giving me loads of quality fun on many levels! Don’t let this baby slip through your fingers, it has “horror party at home with a bunch of friends” written all over it. VAMP OUT TO THIS!
We get some nasty vamp bites, a ripped out heart, self-inflicted razor cuts, some stakings and burning vamps. There’s enough red grub here to fill you up!
Chris Makepeace (Keith) did wonders as the straight guy of the lot. He was very credible. Robert Rusler (AJ) was amazing, as per usual, and his chemistry with Makepeace was on the ball. They made a very compelling duo. DeeDee Pfeiffer (Amaretto) was beyond charming as the blonde haired dancer with a heart of gold. I couldn’t help but love her. Grace Jones (Katrina) was one scary, yet arousing, animal. Brrr…. Gedde Watanabe (Duncan) was like a damaged WW2 radio…on and off.
T & A
We get, at least, two clean tit shots and countless shots of chicks in thongs and tiny tops. The ladies get Robert Rusler lean and shirtless. Everybody’s happy!
Richard Wenk gave his picture a very particular look in the guise of constant green and pink glares, an army of neon lights and stylish angles galore. Trippy 80’s stuff...I dug it the most!
The score by Jonathan Elias worked wonders in an 80’s synthesizer type of deal. We also get a tip-top use of 80’s pop rock and some old school blues. Awesome!
"Vamp" caught me with my pants down! I expected a regular vampire effort and was bamboozled to discover a unique, hip, clever, side-splitting, well acted and at times, ballsy horror party instead. Sure, the flick lost some of its mojo during its final block, but on the whole, this was a heavy hitter on most counts. My advice: hit this strip joint, get a lapdance and suck on this vamp’s tangerines! She’s damn worth your while and she’ll fix you breakfast in the morning (I don’t get it either...just go with it)!
Chris Makepeace was born in my hometown of Montreal, Canada.
Dee Dee Pfeiffer is the sister of actress Michelle Pfeiffer. I actually met her at Universal Studios in the 80’s when I was younger. What a cutie! I had a crush on her for weeks after our meeting.
Robert Rusler’s first starring role was in the 80’s teen comedy classic "Weird Science".