Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 1.5 Beans
n order to gain admission into a doofus-filled but comfortable 80s fraternity house (nice touch of realism there), two college boys must hire a stripper. Unfortunately, their quest takes them across to the wrong side of the tracks: to the vampire section of town.
"Vamp," featuring Chris Makepeace and Grace Jones, is a bad movie, but it's a pretty good bad movie.
It beats the bloated "Dusk to Dawn" out as the first film to feature a strip club that's really a snack bar for vampires. Of course, one might question whether this premise makes the best foundation for a full-length movie, and one might cite both films as evidence to make that case. The story would probably fare better as one part of a horror anthology. Indeed, many an old horror comic features a story where vampires or other beasties set up some business to lure human prey. You can't do to much damage in a few pages of a cheap comic book.
But give a flimsy premise ninety minutes on a screen and it wears terribly thin.
We get some passable proto-Buffy banter between the college students and the vampires, though not nearly enough. Many of the jokes simply fall flat. Gedde Watanabe meanwhile, as a wealthy wannabee out to buy friendship, struggles to convince us that the weak material he's forced to work with is actually funny. I think we all knew guys like this character at some point in our lives. They become annoying on-camera, too.
The film also boasts a a little girl vampire, reminiscent less of Claudia in Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" than of the ankle-biter in Stephen King's early, fun piece, "One for the Road." She's mildly creepy. The late Sandy Baron also manages a memorable turn as the vampire queen's lounge-lizard toady.
But Jones herself proves the film's real saving Grace. Clad in blue contacts, red wig, body paint, and metal goddess spirals, she performs a dance number that bleeds animal magnetism and raw power. She also gets an effective death scene with memorable vampire make-up. The other vamps, when they bare their fangs, merely look walrus-like.
Against these positive elements, a significant number of negative ones rather heavily weigh . The acting is generally shoddy. Dedee Pfeiffer, as Makepeace's long-lost childhood-girlfriend-turned-stripper, deserves particular note for her Oscar-resistant performance.
And we scarcely could have a bad flick without silly plot contrivances. The vampires can be killed by flame, so naturally the bar's brandy seems to be 90% kerosene. Of course, the bloodsuckers store large barrels of this same highly-flammable stuff in their sleeping quarters.
Hey, you on the elephant! Are you Santa Claus?
The preceding non-sequitur has been included to give you some idea of the effect the scene transitions in this film have. Seriously, this film has a couple of transitions that rival anything in "Un Chien Andalou" for sheer incoherence. The College Boys' turn from downtown to the vamp neighbourhood plays like a spacetime warp. And the physical relationship among the bar, the brightly-lit sewage systems, and the industrial park where much of this was filmed cannot be clearly determined. One can only assume the editor was intoxicated. Come to think of it, so was I when I first saw this film in the 80s. Sorry to anyone I may have recommended it to. I enjoyed it much less this second time through.
Fans of vampires and related genres will find Grace Jones' queen vamp appealing. Other sober viewers should pass this one over.
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