Review: Vamp

17 Dec

80s Horror

Vamp dvd 001This 80s vampire film is less well-known than some other the other from the same time and I hadn’t seen it or thought much about it since I saw it on VHS. It’s a horror comedy that is a lot more comedy than horror and it has certainly dated a lot more than some of those other films. It features the Jamaican singer Grace Jones as a vampire which  is probably the only reason anyone remembers it today

We see a goup of robed figures leading two young men into room where they are face death by hanging while a booming voice tell them they face death as their initiation. But it’s a fake frateernity prank and pledge AJ (Robert Rusler) calls them out on their infantile pantomime. He promises that he can get anything they want for their frat party, while  fellow pledge Keith (Chris Makepeace) tries to object him committing both of them to anything. This leads to AJ promising to get the a stripper.

The university is miles away from the nearest large city where they might find strippers so they go to see about powering a car from Duncan (Gedde Watanabe), a very wealthy Asian/American student who uses his money to buy academic success. He is exuberant but lonely and agrees to help if they both pretend to be his friends and he comes with them.

They get to a city and look for a strip club they saw advertised in a newspaper. Suddenly the car goes out of control spinning round and round before it finally comes to a stop in a run-down deserted looking part of the city. It is like they have been transported into a strange other world and this is commented on by Keith.

The club is not due to open until they very unspecific time of after dark so they go to a café to pass the time. The sun sets and the café owner wants to close and is dressing himself up like a priest and putting on crosses and rosary beads. They are just waiting on Duncan finishing in the toilet so they can leave. Two women and a scary looking albino man come in ignoring the protest by the owner that he’s closing and they order six coffees to take away. One of the women is gives Keith a seductive look while sensuously sucking on red liquorice. Keith keeps watching her while AJ tries to warn him to stop. When she opens her mouth and Keith sees her hideous teeth he is obviously startled and repulsed which really annoys her and she tells the albino man. The three of them surround Keith and the man called Snow (Billy Drago) tries to intimidate him. Keith looks to AJ for some help but he’s letting Keith suffer the consequences of being a horny idiot for now. Duncan comes out of the toilet and quickly retreats back in as soon as he sees trouble. AJ tries to reason with Snow but he gets nowhere and Snow spills coffee on AJ’s shirt. AJ s a bright and laid back person but he’s also very vain and damaging hi clothes is what pushes his button and he and Keith fight and knock out the three gang members. Keith fetches Duncan from the toilet while AJ cleans his shirt. When Duncan comes out and sees the gang lying on the floor he starts with the bravado.

They leave and go to the strip club. Duncan is eager to go inside but the plan was for AJ to go in alone and he tells Keith and Duncan to wait in the car. AJ has barely gone inside when Duncan decides that since he came all this way he’s going inside so Keith has no choice but to follow him. At the door is Vic (Sandy Baron), the clubs MC, who asks the boys for their IDs and Duncan pulls out his wallet. Vic grabs it out of his hand, finds it full of cash and credit cards and he’s happy to let the boys inside. Of course Duncan is overexcited by the women on display, especially the one stripping on stage and he tells the waitress he wants a ringside seat. AJ is at the bar and is not happy to see them inside but Keith shrugs his shoulders and indicates Duncan.

A waitress called Amaretto (Dedee Pfeiffer) recognises Keith and waves at him and gives her a confused, uneasy smile. She tries to clue him in by spinning a bottle but he’s still confused so she comes over and asks if he remembers her and Keith really doesn’t. She is being watched by her boss so she takes their drink order. Duncan is amazed that Keith doesn’t remember her. When she comes back with their drinks, she doesn’t stick around because the main act is about to start.

The lights dim and the spotlight comes on and Katrina (Grace Jones) is sitting at the feet of a sculpture with a human shape and a chair like pose. It has a very Australian Aboriginal art look about it. Katrina has white face paint and a pink wig with as geisha look that is completed with her red silk kimono. The music playing is of course by Grace Jones and it has a very percussive electronic sound. She strips for them while clawing at the air like an animal. Under her kimono she is wearing metal spirals over her breasts and genitals and the spiral motif is continued in white body paint. She gives them a raunchier more intense performance you’d expect in a cheap strip joint and when she finishes the low class audience are sitting stunned silence for a moment before they applaud. AJ mimes to Keith that he’s going try to hire her for their frat party.

AJ talks to a waitress and she takes him backstage to Katrina’s room. AJ tries to act cool as he compliments Katrina’s act and asks her if she’s interested in another performance. Katrina never says a word instead she lays him down on her bed and strips off his shirt, kissing and licking him over his body. Then she raises her head and her face turns demonic and long claws come out of her fingers and toes. She bites down on his throat with her fangs and drains his blood leaving him lying lifeless.

Keith is getting is restless and wanders around looking for any sign of AJ coming out. He wanders over to Vic’s counter while he is dealing with an unconscious “drunk” in the back of the club. He helps himself to the bowl of nut on the counter but realises very quickly that what he just ate was a live cockroach and the bowl is full of them. He spits it out and tells Duncan that they are going to leave. He goes to the waitress that AJ talked to but she denies taking anyone backstage but there’s a worried look on her face. Just then Amaretto comes to talk to him and when he mentions AJ going backstage she is really excited that AJ is there and sure he will remember her. Amaretto takes Keith backstage to look for AJ and they don’t find him. She has an idea and asks if one of the strippers called Candi has left. She thinks that AJ may have left with her to go to the hotel where she is staying. Amaretto is also staying there and tells Keith to wait outside by the back door while she gets changed.

While this is happening the waitress who brought AJ to Katrina is in Katrina’s room apologising to her and Vic for bringing AJ back without making sure he was alone. Vic is furious since they keep a low profile by only choosing victims that have not told anyone that they came here. Now the will have to kill his friends too so they don’t blow their cover. The waitress is terrified of what Vic wants to do to her but Katrina comforts her and just when thinks she’s okay Katrina punches her through her chest and tears her heart out.

Outside Keith waits at the back of the club and he sees Vlad (Brad Logan) the bouncer carry out heavy garbage sacks and dump them in a dumpster. Then a truck comes to take away the dumpster and Vlad hands the driver a load of wallets. Vlad turns and grins at Keith who is suddenly nervous and looks away. Just then Amaretto comes out of the back door and Keith is glad that they are leaving. They talk and Amaretto is already assuming what Keith is thinking before he says anything and answering questions he hasn’t asked. She still doesn’t answer his main questions of who she is and how she knows him.

At the hotel they get in the lift and there’s an ancient operator with a terrible toupee humming along to the muzak while Keith and Amaretto try to stifle their laughter. The lift stops and Keith gets out but Amaretto says in not the right floor but the door closes before he can get back in. He goes down the corridor to use the stairs when the lift reappears. He goes back to the lift but when he tries to get in the door slams on him trapping him in the door. As he tries to get free the lift starts going up and now he struggling for his life. He manages to jam a fire extinguisher in to stop the lift and give him time to get free.

Keith gets outside and he runs into Snow and his gang including the three large angry albinos that all start chasing him through the empty streets. He manages to get down into the sewers and thinks he’s got away from them but they know where he went and they have fun getting to all his possible exits before he does. He sees one of the men approaching a little girl who turns out to be a vampire who attacks the man biting his arm and he desperately tries to shake off. They disappear from view for a moment and Keith hears the man cry out and fall down lifeless in the street. Keith climbs out of the sewer and the gang start chasing him again so he runs down into an alley and climbs into a dumpster where he waits until he hears the gang leave. As he goes to climb out he sees AJ’s corpse.

Keith goes to a phone box and calls the police then he starts making his way back to the club. He runs into Amaretto who was heading back to try and find him when they got separated at the hotel. He tells her about what’s happening. They get back to the club and when Keith talks to Vic about finding AJ dead. Vic had Vlad bring AJ’s body back in when the attempt to kill Keith at the hotel failed and he takes Keith and Amaretto back stage to a room where they find AJ alive and well. He recognises Amaretto right away and calls her by her real name Allison. AJ claims he was pulling a joke on Keith and that he wasn’t dead. Vic wants Keith to talk to police that came in response to his call. They are not happy about being called out to this part of town and leave.

Keith tells Allison to go see about Duncan while he stays with AJ. Once they are alone AJ reveals that he has been turned into a vampire and only their friendship has stopped AJ from attacking Keith. He’s not happy about being a vampire and he asks Keith to kill him and gives him a broken table leg to tap him through the heart. Keith just can’t kill best his friend so AJ lifts his Keith hand with the table leg and impales himself on it and Keith has to watch helplessly as his friend dies.

Out in the bar Keith wants to collect Allison and Duncan and leave but Vic tells him bluntly that there’s no way they’ll be leaving alive and Keith realises they are surrounded by vampires. It seems hopeless but Keith has an idea. Vic is obsessed with Las Vegas and has made several mention of his dream of moving there with Katrina but Keith knows Vic has never been there. He convinces Vic that mobster in Vegas buy their victims a last drink before killing them and Vic thinks that shows class so he agrees. Keith orders three large brandies and for good measure takes the rest of the bottles. Giving two of the glasses to Allison they spread the booze all around the bar and Keith lights up the alcohol which rapidly engulfs the whole club in flames. Keith, Duncan and Allison escapes in the confusion. Vic just sits there feeling sorry for himself and allows himself to be engulfed by the flames while enjoying his first alcoholic drink in decades.

Keith, Allison and Duncan get into the car and drive off and they get chased by a truck and large lorry driven by more vampires but manage to get away. Duncan complains about feeling hungry from the back seat. He is turning into a vampire this distracts them enough so that they get hit by the truck. The impact damages the fuel tank and of course the car catches fire. Keith gets out and manages to get Allison out. Duncan is trapped and they don’t try very hard to get him out before the car explodes and crispy fries him.

They start running but vampires start appearing chasing them just. As they run a car pulls up in front of them. Snow and his gang get out just a load of vampires arrive and the gang are attacked and killed by the vampires.

Keith breaks into a hardware shop to get the some weapons and he gives Allison a gun while he gets chooses a longbow. He takes Allison down into the sewer to get away and this is when Allison reveals that they were in grade school together and somehow she got to kiss him in a game of spin the bottle. It’s not really relevant and really not the time to talk about it. They find a wall with a large hole but it turns out to be the cellar of the club and it is full of coffins including a n Egyptian sarcophagus with the face of Katrina. They hide when a load of vampires arrive and get into the coffins. The room has a couple of large barrels of flammable oil and which is very handy so Keith knocks over the barrels and sets fire to the cellar killing more vampires.

Back in the cellar they get confronted by Katrina who manages to get a hold of Allison. Katrina’s about to put the bite on her but Keith shoots an arrow into her mouth. The sun has risen and Keith is able knock away planks on the roof of the sewer? He traps her between the beams of sunlight before knocking away the last plank and killing her. They then face Vlad who is angry that they killed everyone else. Just as he is about to kill them he is killed by someone pushing a stake into him from behind. It turns out to be AJ who wasn’t killed by the table leg because it was formica not wood.

Keith and Allison climb up to the surface, with Keith worried about Allison being a vampire to but other than being dazzled a by the light she’s okay and they walk off together with AJ following beneath them.

This is a very 80s film and the story has so many typical elements. There is of course Grace Jones who was at the peak of her fame in the 80s. It was the first that had the idea of a strip club being used by vampires as a honey trap, and idea used in From Dusk till Dawn. It has very garish colours with a lot pink, green and orange light. Personally I think this film was never as good the other 80s vampire films such as Fright Night or Lost Boys which though they were comedic also had a lot of tension and real scares. This one is pure 80s cheese so it will appeal to those with a nostalgia for the films of this time.

Rating 7.0/10


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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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