I’ve never seen the movie Vamp growing up, so whether or not it actually holds up today, that I can’t tell you. What I can tell you, is that the film is a cheesy, funny vampire flick that gets bogged down by pacing issues.
The usually stellar Arrow Video released Vamp on Blu-ray already back in 2014. This latest release is for North American audiences and unfortunately, it removes some of the Blu-ray special features that were in the original release. The biggest feature you’re missing out on is the commentary, but they do list a brand-new documentary. Is it worth the purchase? Read on to find out.
THE FIRST KISS COULD BE YOUR LAST! Two fraternity pledges head to a seedy part of town to find some entertainment for their college friends but are faced with bloodthirsty vampires! Keith (Chris Makepeace, Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) want to make the right impression at college and so they devise a plan to get them into the best frathouse on campus. They head to the After Dark Club where they want to find a stripper for a party their friends won’t forget, instead they find themselves among vampires led by Kinky Katrina (Grace Jones, A View to a Kill)! Almost certainly an influence on From Dusk til Dawn, Vamp is superbly designed by many of Grace Jones’ own award-winning collaborators and features stunning effects by four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Delivering laughs and scares in equal measure, with the added bonus of vampy sex appeal, Vamp is a comedy horror romp with real bite!
The story for Vamp is as follows: AJ (Robert Rusler from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) and Keith (Chris Makepeace) are planning on joining a fraternity and they promised the frat brothers booze, food and a stripper for a party. They have to drive to LA in order to get the stripper, as the University is inexplicably located in the middle of the desert. They scout out some strip clubs and decide on the one called After Dark. They saunter in and proceed to watch the strippers do their wacky routines and try to decide which one would be best to take back to the university. They are unsure of who it will be until the craziest strip teaser ever comes on stage, Grace Jones with orange hair and white body paint. She gyrates around and humps a chair and for some reason, everyone in the audience is loving it. I do not really know why, but I’m actually enjoying it as well (I know, I feel weird).
AJ thinks she is the one and goes backstage to ask her to go back to the university with them. He meets up with her and she jumps all over him and then the big reveal happens, she’s a vampire!
Once AJ doesn’t show back up, Keith becomes worried, but not so worried that he doesn’t have time to hang out with one of the girls working at the strip club, who reckons she remembers him from when they were younger. (This little side story doesn’t really add anything to the story, but it does give us plenty of time with the cute Dedee Pfeiffer). Keith also has another friend with him named Duncan, played by Gedde Watanabe, who you’ll probably know from Sixteen Candles. He seems to be playing the same kind of character. He’s a bit of a weird nerd and has lots of money and really, he just wants to get wasted and watch the strippers (Duncan, you the man!)
Keith keeps trying to find AJ, but ends up running around in a city that looks like Joel Schumacher decorated it, as everything looks straight out of a comic book with plenty of purple, green and blue. Eventually, Keith runs into an Albino gang that end up chasing him into the sewers. I know, this is one wacky film.
As for our head vamp of the story, Grace Jones, she, unfortunately, doesn’t have a lot to do in the film. She has one weird scene, one cool vampire scene and then she ends up in the background. She eventually gets to do one more neat scene, but that’s all. If she is meant to be some sort of Queen of the vampires, they really failed at conveying that.
Vamp is definitely a product of its time, with the clothing, music and the kind of cheesy humour you would expect from an 80s flick. That’s cool, as I love the 80s, but I just felt it did not grasp the full potential of the story and go all out. It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be gory special effects film (the SFX is pretty cool) or a low-brow laugh fest. The ending seems like it wanted to choose the latter, as it was terribly cheesy. One word: rainbow. Ugh. The film reveals the cool vampire bits quickly, but then pacing issues rear their ugly head and the films stalls. Not until over halfway through do things pick back up. More vampires show up and the action/horror ramps up.
Even with all the negatives, I still feel like you should check it out, and the best way to do that is with the new Blu-ray from Arrow video. That is if you do not already own the earlier UK release, which, by the way, was region free. Nevertheless, if you want the new release that just came out, you can expect a cool new cover and a new documentary. The video transfer seems to be the same as the original release. There are times where things are a little blurry and there are issues here and there. It is definitely an older transfer from Arrow. Overall, though, I found the video and audio acceptable.
As for the special features, you have the already mentioned over 40-minute documentary featuring several interviews with cast and crew. Also, we have some rehearsal footage of Grace Jones doing some really weird stuff. Rounding it all out are trailers, TV spots, a blooper reel and a short film by Director Richard Wenk. Sadly, I’m disappointed they ended up dropping most of the features from the original release. I personally think if you can find the UK version, that would be the one to get.
NEW SPECIAL FEATURES vs OLD SPECIAL FEATURES
New Release Features:
- High Definition digital transfer
- Original mono audio
- Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp – a brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk, stars Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
- Behind-the-scenes rehearsals
- Blooper Reel
- Image gallery
- Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
- First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher
Past Release Features:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature and extras [1 Blu-ray, 2 DVDs]
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
- Audio commentary with star Robert Rusler, moderated by Calum Waddell
- Introduction by Robert Rusler
- Vamp it Up – An interview with star Dedee Pfeiffer
- Vamp Stripped Bare – An interview with director Richard Wenk
- Back to the 80s – Producing a campy cult classic
- Scrapbook of scares – Richard Wenk looks over his collection of Vamp memorabilia
- Behind the Scenes rehearsals
- Blooper Reel
- Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – A short film by Richard Wenk
- Original Trailer
- Easter Egg
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tom ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge
- Booklet featuring writing on the film by author and critic Jay Slater
Vamp does hit a lot of the right notes, but it also misses a lot of things as well. They definitely could have gone crazy with the vampire strippers idea, making it a pre-From Dusk till Dawn style film, but unfortunately, they chose not to. Instead, Vamp has a little bit of comedy, a kitschy style story and some troubles with pacing. Nevertheless, there is good to be had with Vamp and it is definitely a movie I will check out again. Whether you decide to pick up the new US release or the older UK release, you can be rest assured that you’ll have a worthwhile film/Blu-ray in your hands.