Vamp (1986) Retro Movie Review

When I was a teenager, way back when Gamestop still sold used movies, I remember seeing the case for Vamp (1986). It had Grace Jones on the cover in white face paint with bright red hair and penetrating blue eyes. I’ve wanted to see it ever since then and somehow I never got around to it… until now. So how did the movie hold up to all these years of expectations?

Vamp was written and directed by Richard Wenk (Wishcraft 2002)  from a story created by Wenk and Donald P. Borchers (Children of the Corn 2009). Vamp stars Chris Makepeace (Meatballs 1979), Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 1985), DeeDee Pfiefer (The Horror Show 1989), Gedde Wantanabe (Gremlins 2: The New Batch 1990), Billy Drago (The Hills Have Eyes 2006), and Grace Jones (Conan the Destroyer 1984). Vamp is the story of Keith (Makepeace) and AJ (Russler), two pledges who agree to find a stripper for a frat party. They set off in search of the perfect girl. After a run in with a gang led by an albino, they finally find the stripper they have been looking for. There is just one catch… she’s a bloodsucker.

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If you took Adventures in Babysitting and turned it into a vampire film, you would probably get something like Vamp. The characters never stay in one location for long. This film is just one long adventure that starts in a frat house and ends in a sewer. For me, Vamp felt more like a comedy mixed with an adventure film that just so happened to have vampires. The bloodsuckers were killed pretty easily, including the head honcho. That being said, I really enjoyed the make up effects for the vampires. Grace Jones’ first transformation was insane. Her eyes roll back in her head, her teeth extend and she grows talons on her feet. When she feeds, it’s like an animal feasting on its prey. The effects by Academy Award winning make up artist Greg Cannom (Mrs. Doubtfire 1993) are solid and unnerving, although some effects definitely show their age.

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I really enjoyed the cast. They had great chemistry. Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler felt like best friends who had known each other forever. Without that, the film would have failed considering the second half of Vamp is Keith looking for his best friend who has gone missing. Gedde Wantanabe plays an awkward character and he brings the perfect mix of awkwardness and likableness. DeeDee Pfeiffer is just flat out gorgeous, hilarious and steals every scene she is in. Billy Drago is only in a few scenes but is perfectly menacing, which is no surprise since he has made a career out of playing bad guys.

Grace Jones is severely underutilized and the fight scene between her and Chris Makepeace at the end is far too short. I would have liked to have had a little more back story on Katrina the head vampire. It’s hinted that she was an Egyptian queen but it never delved into it an detail. Also, for a vampire film that revolves around strippers, there is surprisingly little nudity and gore.

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Overall Vamp is a solid and fun ’80s horror comedy with a phenomenal cast. I would have liked a little bit more nudity and gore but that is a minor complaint and the movie was still an enjoyable ride as is. If you enjoy ’80s films, vampires and light-hearted, teen centered comedies, then I recommend you check out Vamp.

About Charlie Cargile

Indianapolis based Horror journalist. Lover of most things Horror (especially Indie), Pop Punk and the strange and unusual.

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