Vamp Blu-ray Review: Fun, but Forgettable

Legends of vampires are as old as recorded history. There are stories of vampire-like creatures from every corner of the Earth. The modern vampire has its origins in Southern Europe dating from around the early 18th century. Bram Stoker got his idea for Dracula from those parts and it is from him that most of our preconceived notions about vampires come. F.W. Murnau illegally stole Stoker’s story for his landmark 1922 film Nosferatu (Stoker sued for copyright infringement, and won, causing nearly all the prints of Nosferatu to be destroyed. It is only by the grace of the cinematic gods that we are able to view the film today.)

Since the days of Stoker and Murnau, there have been countless stories and films made about vampires (Wikipedia notes at least 170 films based on Dracula alone have been made). It’s easy to see why the creatures remain so popular. Their mythology is well defined, yet malleable enough to be changed to suite various needs. They abhor sunlight and only go out at night giving them a certain chilling mystique. They are immortal. They can only be killed by certain, specific means. They’ve got a lot of style and their method of killing – sucking blood from the neck – has an engrossing erotic quality to it.

Vampires are also incredibly cinematic, with all the cool lighting effects, the blood, and the sexiness, they make for great movie images. Which is also why so many films involve vampires and why so few of them stand out. A distinctive villain becomes pretty boring pretty quickly if every other movie has the same bad guys. Which is, perhaps, why Vamp turned their vampires into strippers. If regular vampires have a sexy erotic quality, then surely vampires taking of their clothes will be even more so. Right?

Not so much. At least not here. Surprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot of stripping or nudity in the film at all. We see a few extras dance around in the background, with a gyration or two shown in close up, but mostly the vampire strippers are shown more-or-less clothed doing much more mundane things. Well, except for Grace Jones, who plays the head vampire stripper, and gets a long dance scene which is more artistic than sexual.

But pardon me, I’m getting bogged down in strippers.

Vamp is about a couple of wannabe frat boys, Keith (Chris Makepeace) and AJ (Robert Rusler), who try to get in the good graces of their frat of choice by going to the seedy side of town to hustle up some strippers. They borrow a ride from Duncan (Gedde Watanabe), who comes along for some fun (and comic relief). As one surely has gathered by now, they wind up at a club run by vampires. After seeing the aforementioned arty-farty dance by Queen Katrina, AJ decides to pay a visit to her dressing room as he thinks she’s perfect for the fraternity.

Meanwhile, Keith meets the waitress Amaretto (Dedee Pfeiffer), who seems to know him from somewhere, while Duncan enjoys much beer and dancing. Comic adventures ensue, culminating in a final battle with the vamps.

Vamp is the type of movie that could only be made in the 1980s. It has that shiny neon, yet foggy look to it that was so popular during that decade. Its story with its mix of humor and horror feel right in place with other films of the era like The Lost Boys or Fright Night. Its violence and nudity ensure that teenage boys would want to see it yet it’s so staid and brief that parental groups wouldn’t get too upset over it.

It’s a fun film for a Saturday night, but not enough to invite your friends over to watch.

The 1080p video transfer looks really good. The lighting of the film is very colorful (lots of green and pink) and atmospheric and this new transfer makes it really pop. There is some grain as is to be expected but overall it looks great. Audio likewise sounds good. There’s lots of classic ’80s soundtrack blasting along but it never overpowers the dialogue, nor does the ample amount of sound effects.

Extras include a very enjoyable 40+ minute documentary with most of the cast and crew telling stories and discussing the making of the film. There’s a nice behind-the-scenes feature that includes some very funny bits about Grace Jones and her outlandishness. There are the usual trailers, TV spots, and image galleries, and director Richard Wenk’s award-winning short film “Dracula Bites the Big Apple.”

Overall, Vamp is a second-tier vampire film that’s straight out of the ’80s, but has enough laughs and thrills to make it worth a watch. Arrow Video has once again given a minor film and extraordinary package.

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Mat Brewster

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