If you read our "Class of 1986" issue of Deadly Magazine from earlier this year, then you know Richard Wenk’s Vamp is a film that is near and dear to my horror-loving heart. The 1980s were an exceptional time for vampire-themed cinema, with films like Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Near Dark, and The Hunger immediately capturing the imaginations of filmgoers during that era. But the one film that has been grossly overlooked over the last 30 years has been Vamp, and it’s great to see Wenk’s incredibly clever and funny take on a very popular sub-genre celebrated in grand fashion with the recent Special Edition Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video.

For the uninitiated, Vamp follows college students Keith (Chris Makepeace) and AJ (Robert Rusler), who are desperate to move into their fraternity house to escape dorm life, but before they can start packing their bags, they’re tasked with securing a stripper for their frat buddies’ shindig, sending them into the big city with their "sort of" new buddy (for a week), Deacon (Gedde Watanabe). The trio settle on the After Dark Club, which seems classy enough, but Keith and his pals soon realize they may have bitten off more than they can chew (pun intended), once it's revealed that the entire club is crawling with vampires who like to feast upon their clientele.

Growing up, Vamp was my “naughty movie”—meaning, it was a film I loved to show my friends because it felt so taboo; in retrospect, though, it’s actually a rather tame movie involving strippers when all is said and done. What I have discovered as I’ve grown older is that what made Vamp so special at the time (and has allowed it to endure for three decades now) is its heart and humor, all brought to life by a charming cast and an up-and-coming writer/director looking to make his mark in Hollywood with an ambitious low-budget horror comedy. While Vamp is a great vampire movie (it truly is), it’s an even better comedy, made with a rare sense of genuine affection that makes it so you can’t help but fall in love with its story and characters.

And of course, there’s Grace Jones, a force of nature unlike anything else in this entire universe, putting Vamp on an entirely new level than many of its cinematic peers. Her hypnotic and entrancing dance number alone makes Vamp worth watching.

It’s hard for me to do a "straight-up review" of Vamp because honestly, it’s a film I’ve written about numerous times throughout my career, and know it so well, so I don’t know if I’m necessarily the most objective person here. What I can say, though, is if you’ve never experienced Vamp for yourself, and you’re a big fan of ’80s humor in your horror, then you’ll definitely want to right that wrong immediately and see this as soon as you can.

Which brings me to Arrow Video’s Special Edition Blu-ray release of Vamp. I own the previous Blu-ray release, which I had honestly been perfectly content with (it comes with a rad alternative trailer for Heathers that includes its previous title, Lethal Attraction), but as a die-hard Vamp fan, Arrow’s presentation was worth the double-dip. I couldn’t really tell any sort of picture quality difference between Arrow’s Blu and the previous version, but the special features included here were the real draw for me, especially since they managed to get Chris Makepeace to do interviews for their behind-the-scenes doc on the film. I grew up adoring Makepeace (I still quote Meatballs to this day, and I watched My Bodyguard at least 30 times as a kid), and I had spent years trying to track him down to do an interview (he went off the grid in the early 2000s), so you can imagine my enthusiastic response in seeing him featured in this release. Seeing him here was a wonderful surprise, and I tip my hat to whoever was able to get him involved.

The behind-the-scenes featurette itself is great, and offers up a lot of interesting tidbits via talking head interviews (including many mentions of Jones’ missing vibrator on set), but truthfully, I could have used a little bit more, especially since it felt like one of Vamp’s key players, Sandy Baron (who once played Grandpa Munster in a Munsters Christmas special that ran in the mid-1990s), was practically glossed over in this. Also, not having co-writer/producer Donald P. Borchers involved also seems like a huge oversight, especially since Vamp was born out of his initial concept and he even designed the now iconic poster art as well.

I’m probably being nitpicky, especially since I’m still giddy over being able to hear from Makepeace, but considering my only real reason to own this release are the special features, I wanted this to be the definitive say on Vamp. It gets pretty damned close, though, so overall, I’m genuinely happy about what fans are presented with in this special edition.

Movie Score: 4/5,  Disc Score: 4/5

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.