Vamp shows there’s humour in horror as death comes to a bizarre town for Keith (Chris Makepeace) and AJ (Robert Rusler), or rather they come to the bizarre town as they end up there by mistake. It’s also one of those films I never saw back in the day, so it’s yet another welcome Blu-ray release from Arrow that helps me fill in my movie knowledge, as well as containing a fair number of extras. It’s also well worth a watch because it’s great to see a horror movie in the days before CGI took over.
After a punch-up in a cafe to Dean Martin’s Volare, the two leads go for a drink in a bar where the women have butts that won’t quit, and Dedee Pfeiffer is one of the waitresses!
Of course, other employees, plus owner Katrina (Grace Jones), have hidden depths, since they’re actually vampires, and getting your neck bitten into is bad for repeat business if the victims are no longer alive to spend money in the club. Ideally, they should only take an interest in drifters and transients who won’t be missed, but this time, they might’ve bitten off more than they can chew…. (oh, that’s more cheesy a line than most of this film!)
Katrina even bumps off some of the staff – gives a new meaning to the words ‘zero hours contract’!
It sounds daft to say this looks “very ’80s” but such are the camera angles and the many scenes bathed in a mixture of green and magenta, such as when Keith and Allison are walking down the street after leaving Katrina’s club, with buildings hit with a green glow, and purple adorning the streets.
There’s far better cheesy horror flicks from the ’80s, but this is still worth a watch even though I was expecting a lot more Grace Jones than we got, but she certainly makes her mark. However, anything with Dedee Pfeiffer is always welcome, and if you’ve not seen The Allnighter from around the same era, make sure you do. I remember when both BBC and ITV broadcast that movie one Christmas, around 1990/91, as one of them mistook it for another film with the same name. Any viewers who caught this ‘double bill’ easily had the best viewing experience during those describe holidays.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and like a lot of Arrow releases, the picture’s a little soft and hazy at times. Shot on 35mm film, it’s far from the best print you’ll ever see, but Arrow will have done as much as they can, but overall, it just looks okay. Enjoy the ’80s look, and also the green and magenta backdrops, but don’t expect the moon on a stick.
The audio is in DTS HD 1.0 (Mono) – it’s fine when things kick off and Grace Jones starts to bite, but this is how it was filmed.
The extras are as follows, starting with a worthy ‘making of’:
- One of Those Nights (44:30): A brand new documentary with writer/director Richard Wenk, director of photography Elliot Davis, and all four main leads!
Beginning with Chris Makepeace popping up from a manhole bemoaning to camera for a laugh, “Did you ever have one of those nights?” The interview pieces are woven together to tell the tale, including the mention of the green and magenta backdrops, and it includes chat from Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe and Billy Drago. Well worth a watch but, for a fairly long featurette, it only has two chapters!
- Rehearsal footage (6:41): Shot in 4:3, as you’d expect, this is the sort of thing Blu-rays and DVDs were made for, as otherwise this footage could be left in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen again.
- Dracula Bites The Big Apple (22:03): A spoof short film from 1979 where Dracula (Peter Loewy) travels to New York for a change of scene, soon erupting into a singalong of Dancing In The Moonlight. It’s not wholly successful, but it’s an amusing piece of nonsense from the director and, like the rehearsal footage, might not otherwise have seen the light of day.
- Blooper Reel (6:14): These are all the rage on DVDs and Blu-rays, these days, but back then, not many would’ve thought to include them. A lot of it doesn’t appear to have audio on it, so it’s been set to Genesis’ I Don’t Care Any More.
- TV spots (3:44): TV trailers – many different ones, all in 4:3.
- Trailers (1:27, 1:58): Two of them, both in 4:3, and looking rather soft.
- Image gallery: A nice round 58 images, mostly on-set photos, but also publicity material and other bits and pieces.
- Reversible sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tom ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge.
- Booklet: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author and critic Jay Slater.
The main menu features a short piece of the theme set to clips from the film. There are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the film, and subtitles are in English.
Vamp is out now on Blu-ray/DVD boxset, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: October 3rd 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio (Mono)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Richard Wenk
Producer: Donald P Borchers
Screenplay: Richard Wenk (based on the story by Donald P Borchers and Richard Wenk)
Music: Jonathan Elias
Keith: Chris Makepeace
Vic: Sandy Baron
AJ: Robert Rusler
Allison: Dedee Pfeiffer
Duncan: Gedde Watanabe
Katrina: Grace Jones
Snow: Billy Drago
Vlad: Brad Logan
Cimmaron: Lisa Lyon
Fraternity Leader: Jim Boyle
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.