5 January 2009 | BA_Harrison
A stylish and under-rated 80s vampire comedy.
Want to know where Quentin Tarantino got his idea for the script for Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn? Well, replace that film's bank robbers with a group of hormonal teens, swop gorgeous Salma Hayek for scary disco-diva Grace Jones, and turn Mexican biker-bar The Titty Twister into a skid-row strip club, and what you've got is Vamp, an under-rated teen horror from the 80s that was undoubtedly the inspiration for Rodriguez's horror hit.
Vamp follows three frat boys, Keith, AJ, and Duncan (Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler and Gedde Watanabe), as they venture to the wrong side of town in the hope of hiring a stripper for a college party. After a run in with a nasty street gang, led by albino thug Snow (Billy Drago), the lads pay a visit to The After Dark Club, a sleazy joint that, unbeknownst to them, is home to a nest of vampires that feed on the lonely patrons.
When AJ is fed to Katrina (Jones), the queen of the bloodsuckers, Keith and Duncan attempt to flee the city, along with cute waitress Amaretto (Dedee Pfeiffer), but find their escape hampered not only by countless members of the undead, but also by Snow and his fellow gang members.
Featuring a witty script, excellent art direction, great make-up effects from Greg Cannom, and lively, fun performances from all involved, Vamp proves to be one of the better 'cheesy' horrors of the 80s, and is my third favourite teen vampire film of the decade (after The Lost Boys and Fright Night). The film makes stunning use of garish, coloured lighting (perhaps inspired by Dario Argento's Suspiria, which uses similar strong colours), giving the whole affair a freakish and rather unsettling look; this disturbing atmosphere is further compounded by a feeling of complete helplessness that is reminiscent of Scorsese's similarly surreal After Hours.
Admittedly, Vamp does occasionally veer a little too close to dumb teen comedy territory, and one or two scenes are rather convoluted or silly (what kind of vampire keeps metal drums full of flammable liquid in their crypt? And that Formica quip.... weak!), but on the whole, this is a refreshingly offbeat and stylish effort that deserves more recognition.
7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.