Two best friends attempt to secure the services of an adult entertainer but end up facing a centuries old evil.
Richard Wenk’s 1986 cult classic sees Grace Jones at her most captivating as Katrina, an ancient vampire who rules her own night-time empire, facing off against AJ (Robert Rusler) and Keith (Chris Makepeace) as they fight for survival against overwhelming, nightmarish odds.
“Very new. Very now”
With a superb supporting cast, including Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe and Billy Drago, and a wonderful soundtrack (Volare has never seen better use, whilst Grace Jones gives a sparkling performance for Katrina’s theme and Jealous Heart will stick with you), it’s certainly a film of its time – exceedingly cool, beautifully shot and a entertaining script that does what few horror films, let alone horror comedies, since have truly managed to do. AJ and Keith bounce off each other, the horrors are visceral and don’t rely on jump scares and there’s a real level of malevolence at play.
Rusler and Makepeace, as the confident AJ and the responsible Keith, are wonderful together, even if Makepeace does come across as slightly wooden on occasion. Dedee Pfeiffer as the surprisingly (for its time and genre) independent Allison comes close to stealing the show and Grace Jones lights up the screen as Katrina, she may not say much but her actions speak much, much louder.
“Ever have one of those nights?”
The idea of a world that operates after dark is a chilling one and well executed – the After Dark Club feels realistic, the haunt of the hopeless, whilst the street scenes – with Snow’s gang of miscreants and the various denizens of this world – give the feel an urban authenticity.
Between this, Near Dark and Lost Boys (which would both be a released a year later), horror audiences were treated to a rejuvenated vampire genre, long separated from the Hammer Horror Dracula days and far removed from the much later Twilight interpretations. Wenk and Schumacher gave us the sexiness of vampires, whilst never letting us forget the danger, whereas Bigelow masterfully craft a dark and dirty tale. In the 1980s, vampires were never treated better.
Ultimately, in Vamp, the good guys would prevail, but the final moments do give us a hope for a sequel that would never materialise.