Vamp was a favorite of mine in the days when HBO and MTV ruled my teen world, so when I watched the indie vampire comedy Club Dead, I knew immediately I had a double feature blog on my hands!
Revisiting this one, I can see why I loved it in the 80s; it’s so 80s. It stars cutie pie Chris Makepeace, who was born to be a Gen-X teen icon, starting off as a kid actor in Meatballs in 1979 and My Bodyguard in 1980, and then reemerging as a horny frat boy in Vamp. Yet he never latched onto the 80s teen movie landscape.
Makepeace’s buddy is 80s hottie Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Thrashin’. Dangerously Close, Weird Science). Together, they head to a strip club, with another student tagging along—Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles! During their road trip, they sing Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” and have a fight with a creepy dude at a bar (Billy Drago, who is a horror king these days), which ends when Rusler grabs his balls!
Once at the club, it’s totally 80s—the music, the red neon lighting, adorable Dedee Pfeiffer (Dangerously Close, The Allnighter, The Horror Show) as a waitress, and Grace Jones slithering her way on stage in Ronald McDonald drag, to the exotic rhythm of her song “Vamp.”
In the film’s best scene, Rusler gets a private room with Grace, they begin getting down and dirty, and she goes totally monstrous vampire on his ass (actually on his dick).
When he never comes back, Makepeace begins to suspect something is seriously wrong at the club, and Dedee offers to help him find his buddy.
While the pair is busy being hunted by baddies in streets and alleys, it becomes clear that Long Duk Dong is in the film merely as a novelty due to the popularity of the Sixteen Candles character. Makepeace and Dedee occasionally pass through the club to see him still partying it up, oblivious to any vampiric threat, but that’s about the extent of his role.
Sort of a combination of Fright Night and An American Werewolf in London, Vamp is loads of fun, with a light mix of humor, horror, and sex departments (the 3 most important elements of 80s teen movies).
For nostalgic reasons alone it’s a classic for 80s guys like me, and Grace Jones rules as a hardcore vamp, but I’m not sure if it would impress a modern horror audience.
CLUB DEAD (2015)
Almost 30 years later, Club Dead comes along with a similar plot and a notable 80s throwback feel to it—red neon lighting, synth title theme, faux 80s club music, references to Joan Jett, the Mary Jane Girls, and Sheila E., and just like Vamp, a slow build to the vamp thrills that really gives you a chance to enjoy the lovable characters. Nonstop stimulation at the cost of character development—or even enjoyable characters for that matter—is purely an epidemic running rampant in modern horror.
Club Dead is so about its charming cast (I was particularly charmed when the guys had a conversation about the size of one friend’s penis).
Our main girl works at a restaurant, and she and her coworkers make numerous failed attempts to get into a popular, exclusive club—despite the fact they’ve been warned to stay away from it by a weird convenience store clerk, played by indie horror daddy Brad Potts. And he’s not the only horror hunk here, because holy shit all the guys in this movie are fricking sizzling hot.
Anyway, the group’s luck changes when a new girl starts working at the restaurant. They drag her to the club and are immediately hand selected to go in by a mysterious woman who emerges from inside.
Soon after the group begins partying, our main girl senses something is very wrong at the club. Her worries are compounded when her friends start disappearing. Before long, it’s clear they’ve landed themselves in a bit of a From Dusk Till Dawn problem, urban style.
While the vampire woman is reminiscent of the lead vamp in Fright Night II, there’s really no blood or gore, and the vampire makeup is ever effective traditional goodness.
But practically upstaging them all is one Doug Bilitch, who plays a wacky vamp that practically drools when he scores a delicious piece of man meat (sexy as hell Monti Washington, who appeared in several episodes of Where the Bears Are...and is the hottie wearing the purple shirt in the man mural above). This vamp is sinfully underutilized and I would have loved for him to stick around longer to feel up a couple more of the guys.
However, the film makes up for his absence during the vamp chaos that breaks out in the final act and the campy final confrontation between Brad Potts and the divatastic head vampiress (Caroline Gombe).
Together, they steal the show in the last scene. If this one comes to DVD, it’s definitely getting added to my collection.