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Friday 12 October 2012

Burl reviews Vamp! (1986)

Bluh bluh, it’s Burl! Yes, I’m here to review a vampire picture today, Vamp, and it’s one that doesn’t get talked about all that much! I discovered the movie on video, and it was one of those pictures that I considered at the time to be incredibly stylish, and the (considerable) entertainment value of which arose directly from that style! But just to give you some perspective, other movies I felt that way about included Fandango and Three O’ Clock High!
These were not my favourite movies or anything, but I enjoyed them! And when I watched Vamp again very recently, I still enjoyed it, and once again wondered why it didn’t become a bigger sensation! The style is pretty sophomoric, with red and green gels, canted angles and overhead shots getting plenty of play! But it still has a genuinely cinematic energy that I find compelling! Plus it has a decent soundtrack, including a song by Concrete Blonde, whose music was all over the place in those days, livening up pictures like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Hidden!
The story is pretty simple: three college fellows are tasked by the fraternity they hope to join to procure a stripper for a big frat party! It’s a similar starting point to that fine fellow 80s horror-comedy, Night of the Creeps! The lads are played by Chris Makepeace from Meatballs, Robert Rusler from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Weird Science (he plays pretty much the same character in all three of these pictures, ha ha!) and Gedde Watanabe from Sixteen Candles and Gremlins 2: The New Batch! They end up at a peeler bar run by none other than Grace Jones, and from there it’s vampire antics all the night long!
I recall Vamp getting compared to Fright Night a lot at the time, and I guess that’s fair! But it’s also quite a bit like After Hours, the fine Scorsese picture about one man’s scary night in the big city – in other words, it’s an example of what Roger Ebert (I think!) calls the One-Damn-Thing-After-Another movie! Poor old Makepeace is nearly eaten by an elevator, chomps on a cock-a-roach, has his lifestyle shirt assaulted, faces down a nefarious albino, and his best pal is turned into a vampire! Also, he’s involved in an incredible car spinout, which is one of the best parts of the picture!
The acting is pretty good all around, and Grace Jones is a particular standout, even though she doesn’t have a lot to do! But she does a (ha ha) BURL-esque dance in paint-makeup designed by Keith Haring himself (who also made a chair for the scene), and also has a pretty sexy scene with the smarmy, oft-doomed Rusler! There’s a little bit of blood and gore in this scene, and one or two others, which livens the movie up still further! Her vampire meltdown at the end is a little on the budget side of things, especially when compared to something like Fright Night, but it serves the purpose pretty well!
Vamp is not a movie I can defend with logical arguments or eloquent verbiage! It’s just a little, neglected movie that I used to enjoy most heartily, and which I’m glad I now own the DVD of! I was happy to watch it again, and I’m going to give it two and a half flying little girl vampires!

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