Vamp – DVD review
Slaves to the rhythm
1986 * 18 * 90 mins * £17.99 * 21 February 2011
Also available on Blu-ray (£22.99)
Distributor: Arrow Video
Director: Richard Wenk
Cast: Grace Jones, Chris Makepeace, Dedee Pfeiffer, Robert Rusler
This ‘80s horror-comedy is a case of sleeves rolled up and tongue placed firmly in cheek. Although set around a vamp-infested strip club, with all the obvious 14-year-old-boy appeal that entails, it’s at least five times less potentially offensive than, say, Piranha 3D, thanks largely to the fact that not many of the strippers actually strip.
It’s essentially Scorsese’s After Hours with added eroticism and gore, as an out-of-his-depth nebbish (Chris Makepeace) ends up stuck in the shady end of town, stumbling through one bizarre situation after another – menaced by a vampiric little girl, nearly decapitated by a defective lift, and so on.
Grace Jones toplined the poster. Though mute throughout, she’s a powerful presence as vampire queen Katrina, at one point giving a provocative performance in an outfit apparently made from three electric hob rings. Some of the supporting characters are endearingly eccentric, like the club’s host, who, with his pink jacket and hedgerow eyebrows, resembles an ageing Mafiosa who’s been made over by John Waters.
But the movie never quite gets up a head of steam, periodically stalling when it should be building momentum. Few of the attempts at a zinger one-liner hit the bullseye. And one stylistic quirk annoys: practically half the movie is lit in garish pink and green. So we won’t be metaphorically tucking a $20 bill in the director’s posing pouch…
An impressive selection, including commentary by actor Robert Rusler, and interviews with the incredibly charming Dedee Pfeiffer (27 mins), director Richard Wenk (17 mins) and producer Donald P Borchers (21 mins). You also get a peek at Wenk’s scrapbook of clippings and on-set photos; some amusing behind-the-scenes footage of Grace Jones rehearsing her neck-sucking on the director (!); a blooper reel; and Dracula Bites The Big Apple (21 mins), the student short which led to Wenk getting the directing gig – plus reversible covers, a fold-out poster, and a collectible booklet.