Goth Chick News: One From the Crypt – Vamp (1986)

Goth Chick News: One From the Crypt – Vamp (1986)

Vamp (New World Pictures, released July 18, 1986)

Over the next few weeks I will be taking some trips that are not leisure-related. When traveling alone these days, I most often spend the evening ordering in food and streaming. There was a time when I would to go down to the bar for an adult beverage at the end of the day, but I tend to attract weirdos, and not the fun kind. So these days I hunker down with my laptop and spend a couple of hours watching things I would normally reject at home. The criteria are usually fun (no hack-and-slash), somewhat mindless (I’m usually fried from the day’s activities and/or jet lag) and definitely not rooted in reality (I get enough of that in airports).

And as I never seem to be able to think of any appropriate titles in the moment when determining an evening’s entertainment, I decided to start making a list now. Of course you can find lists of anything with a bit of searching, and this particular search brought me straight to one of my favorite websites Bloody Disgusting, and a list called “Five Underseen Vampire Horror Movies to Stream This Week.”

Well, that’s just about perfect.

Grace Jones

Admittedly, I had never heard of the first four on the list, though Sundown: The Vampire Retreat starring Bruce Campbell as Robert Van Helsing (a descendant of the Van Helsing) certainly made the cut. But the fifth one is now my choice for the first evening I’m away.

Grace Jones, eighties singer, actress and pop-culture icon, starring in her seventh film (right between A View to a Kill and Boomerang), the 1986 movie Vamp.

If you haven’t heard of it, I wouldn’t be surprised. But stick with me.

The 1980’s are chock full of somewhat cheesy “date night” horror films which came and went in the theaters. A few have revived with cult status as they hit milestone anniversaries in the 2020’s, but most would be in the $1 DVD bins near the checkout at Menards if such a thing still existed. But though Vamp fits these criteria in many ways, Grace Jones alone makes it worth watching.

Robert Rusler and Chris Makepeace

Categorized as a “horror-comedy,” eighties teen heartthrobs Robert Rusler and Chris Makepeace star as two fraternity pledges who venture into a shady part of the big city to hire a stripper to impress their frat brothers. They end up in a divey strip club just in time to catch the headliner named Katrina (Jones), unaware that she and most of the other staff are vampires.

When the movie was released in 1986, Rodger Ebert wrote,

Grace Jones is one of the great undiscovered countries of contemporary entertainment. Who is she, and what does she think, and what could she really do if the filmmakers ever unleashed her?

Though Vamp isn’t the film that tapped into Jones’ ability as an actor, she is still riveting to watch. Sporting enigmatic monochrome body paint applied by legendary American pop-artist Keith Haring, and a blunt cut orange wig, Jones puts on quite a performance without speaking a single word in the film.

According to her, this was her own idea, opting instead to play the role with silent film techniques inspired by Max Schreck in Nosferatu. The bizarre human-like chair Jones performs her striptease on was made from a body cast of her then-boyfriend Dolph Lundgren.

Check out Jones’ first scene for yourself.

A reviewer states,

The filmmakers set out to make a horror-comedy with a lot of bad jokes and corny dialogue, but they cast Grace Jones as a silent vampire goddess.

Unfortunately, though Jones was used as the main draw in all Vamp’s marketing, she gets far too little screen time. In my opinion this was one of the reasons Vamp was considered a total failure by Hollywood standards, making a meager $4.9M on a budget of $3.3M.

Still, Robert Rusler and Chris Makepeace are nostalgic eye candy, and the soundtrack is nothing short of 80’s awesomeness.

I can, and will, stream Vamp on AMC+, Plex, the Roku Channel, Shudder, or Tubi and it will certainly give me something to look forward to on Monday night.

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Mark Rigney

I realize this is slightly sidelong to the topic, but that photo of Chris Makepeace takes me straight back to what I think was his first major role, in “My Bodyguard.” Now there’s a movie I don’t dare re-watch, for fear that it will completely fail to live up the tricksy hype of memory.
Vampire-wise, I’ve not seen “Vamp,” but I’ve always wondered why “Near Dark” didn’t get more attention. Director Kathryn Bigelow went on to bigger things, or so we’re told, but I liked her take on contemporary blood-suckers. Maybe it’ll join the parade of re-makes into which Hollywood likes to sink its teeth.

Mark Rigney

Don’t get me wrong, “Near Dark” never really takes off. It’s cool and distant and feels like the beginning of something longer––a docu-style mini-series, maybe. Anyway. Glad to be your people! Blood brothers, as it were. Sisters. Whatever. : )

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