Vamp (1986)

To get into a highly regarded fraternity, Keith and AJ agree to come up with the goods. That is finding a stripper to perform at a party. They need wheels and they turn to the dweeb Duncan for a favour. The three head off, and they come across a rather sordidly dark neighbourhood, which the After Dark club catches their attention. After this the night turns into a very surreal nightmare, as the place happens to be run by vampires. The trouble begins when AJ gets a personal encounter with the fetching dancer Katrina to hopefully perform at their party.

What starts off like your ordinary teen comedy, turns into a spontaneously imaginative and tantalizing vampire feature. The horror/comedy element more often comes off, despite some awkward moments and bad timing. The wry humour is blackly broad and weird, while the ominous thrills are jarringly explicit. Director / writer Richard Wenk gives the oddball concept unpredictable twists with a wide range of sub-plots that work in a lot of tact on climaxes, and the highly witty and clever script is a saucy treat with its banter. The script had a rapid touch about it, but the pacing of the story and direction can get scratchy. Wenk stylishly floods the seedy locations with neon pink and green lighting for ample effect, and Elliot Davis’ singular angle photography gaudily displays a sinisterly lingering and nocturnal atmosphere. The make-up FX by Greg Cannom is pretty top-rate with many wicked and grisly images. The direction can feel loose, but it’s visually enticing and at times suspenseful. It does look cheap, but this only enhances the mischievously neurotic air and helping out that tenor is Jonathan Elias’ spiralling, steamy music score. The cast are on a real high. Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler are ably good as the two central characters. Gedde Watanabe admirably pulls the strings in his obnoxiously weedy comic part. Grace Jones gets top billing, despite saying nothing and having little screen time. However she’s naturally imposing and her dominance comes from her luridly effective physical actions and appearance. Especially those eyes! A bubbly and sincere Dedee Pfeiffer steals the film for me, and you got a memorably eerie Billy Drago as an albino thug of a street gang. Sandy Baron was also good fun. The comparisons with “After Hours (1985)” are justified, as both follow a path of triggered events during one bad night in an unrecognisable part of town for the unlucky foe/s. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if “From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)” was influenced by ‘Vamp’.

A neat, showy and off-kilter little horror/comedy romp of the 80’s.