Return to the Neon-Soaked Vampire Dens of the 1980s with ‘Vamp’

Vamp: An Exotic, Stylized 80s Horror Gem Lost in the Neon Wonderland of Cult Cinema

The 1980s represented a phenomenal boom period for the horror genre that shaped and defined the world of scary movies as we know them today. Following the groundwork laid by classics in the 1970s like The Exorcist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween, horror films in the 80s exploded in popularity and brought new innovations to the genre.

Advances in special effects allowed horror in the 80s to depict violence and gore in viscerally realistic ways. Practical effects masters like Rob Bottin and Tom Savini createdsome of cinema’s most stunningly gruesome sequences that still stand the test of time. The 80s also saw the birth of major slasher franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Hellraiser that introduced iconic horror villains into the pop culture lexicon.

Psychological thrillers like The Shining and Poltergeist proved horror could be high art and resonate deeply with audiences. And indie gems like Re-Animator and The Evil Dead showed you didn’t need a big budget to make great horror. The 1980s expanded the scope of horror into the global phenomenon it is today.

Many consider the 80s the peak creative decade for scary movies. The themes, style and characters from 80s horror continue to influence the genre. Today, we’ll be looking back at one cult classic from this golden age – the vampire tale Vamp, released in 1986…

Vamp 1986 Still Image

Some Details on Vamp (1986)

The 1980s represented the glorious, gory peak for horror cinema, delivering an onslaught of iconic slasher villains, practical effects wizardry, and screams galore. But among the decade’s barrage of horror classics lies some hidden gems that brought eccentric new blood into the genre. One such cult favorite is 1986’s Vamp, a kooky, sexy, and stylish vampire romp.

Directed by Richard Wenk, Vamp follows two frat boys looking to hire a stripper for their party. Their search leads them to the After Dark Club, a seedy joint that hides a secret cabal of vampires led by the hypnotic Katrina, played by the one and only Grace Jones. Clad in outrageous gothic fashion, Jones makes for a mesmerizing vampire queen, stealing every scene with her sinister allure.

What ensues is a rollercoaster ride of oddball antics, seductive vampire stripping, rivers of neon-red blood, and sly comedy. Vamp has a devilish B-movie charm, mixing danger and titillation with a wink. The atmosphere oozes with 80s grime, all smoke machines and crimson mood lighting. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the decade’s aesthetic excess.

Between the playful banter of the protagonists and the over-the-top vampy camp, Vamp balances laughs with creepy style. It’s certainly of its era, but the film has aged into an endearing and novel horror-comedy. For a taste of the wild punk spirit of 80s horror, re-enter the vampire dens of the After Dark Club. Vamp offers a lurid, lively party you won’t want to leave.

Albino Vampire from Vamp 1986

Why You Should Watch Vamp

Among the glut of 80s horror, Vamp stands out as a hidden gem that deserves more attention. While it didn’t make major waves upon its initial release, the film has built up a cult following for its eccentric style and comedy. The vampire genre saw a major resurgence in the 80s, with entries like Fright Night and The Lost Boys achieving horror-comedy classics status. But Vamp never reached those heights of mainstream success, making it a great lesser-known title to showcase from the decade.

Beyond its obscurity, part of what makes Vamp so novel is the vampire mythology it creates. Grace Jones makes for a compelling and seductive queen vampire, bringing a distinct punk-inspired aesthetic. The gothic set designs of the vampire dens paired with the nocturnal neon create a unique atmosphere. And the overall tone balances gritty, punk danger with tongue-in-cheek camp humor. For a flavor of 80s horror that goes beyond the well-known touchstones, Vamp is a standout. It demonstrates the creativity and boundary-pushing of the decade’s genre fare. The film has only grown in cult appeal over the years, and it’s time to shed light on this kooky vampire curio. 

Where to Stream the Neon-Soaked Vampire Dens

While Vamp may not be on major platforms like Netflix or Hulu, you can still easily access this cult classic in pure hd online:

  • Tubi TV – Watch Vamp free with ads on Tubi
  • Pluto TV – Find Vamp in the Pluto TV library
  • Plex – Stream Vamp via Plex free with an account With a Tubi, Pluto TV, or Plex membership, you can re-enter the smoky vampire clubs and bloody dens of the 1980s any time. Sink your teeth into this quirky cult favorite and its dark, lurid vision of the decade today!
Red Hair Vampire from Vamp 1986

My Modern Day Review of Vamp (1986)

Brace yourself for a bloody romp back to the 1980s – the decade of big hair, neon lights, and vampires prowling seedy clubs. Rediscover the cult favorite Vamp with me and let’s sink our teeth into this kooky horror comedy together!

Back in 1986, audiences were treated to an original and bizarre twist on vampire mythology filled with campy gore, oddball characters, and a darkly comedic vision of high school after dark. Directed by Richard Wenk, Vamp takes the supernatural creature out of gothic castles and drops fanged fiends right into an urban landscape of smoky dens and death disco.

Join me as we re-enter the world of Keith, AJ, and Duncan – three college pals just looking for a good time who get way more than they bargained for when they stumble into a vampire turf war. Vamp is an underseen gem that lovingly satirizes the 1980s through blood, practical effects, and an awesome retro soundtrack. Let’s unpack this quirky cult favorite together!

Vamp is all about the lighting

The cinematography in Vamp is one of the biggest reasons this movie has stuck with me over the years. Frederick Elmes, the director of photography, did some wild work that drenches scenes in rippling reds and greens. It screams vampire while taking me right back to the 1980s.

The way color is used instantly reminded me of the hypnotic, neon-stained look of modern psychedelic horror like Mandy. There’s that same visceral feeling, like the saturated colors are pulling you into a surreal, dangerous world. Those deep, vivid shades of red that dominate Mandy – that’s the exact vibe Vamp nails with its lighting way back in 1986.

Beyond the colors, the fog and haze in the club scenes are straight out of a psychedelic thriller playbook. Vamp bottled that thick, smoky atmosphere years before films like Mandy brought it into vogue. The camerawork also adds this kinetic energy and dizzying movement through clever circling shots and hypnotic spins. It’s a visual assault on the senses in the best possible way.

Vamp was way ahead of its time with the otherworldly lighting and kinetic camera moves. Elmes and Wenk crafted this acid-trip aesthetic that horror movies today are still emulating. For me, the neon-stained, surreal visuals alone cement Vamp as an iconic gem of the ’80s and a precursor to modern psychedelic horror. This movie deserves credit for its groundbreaking cinematography and color palette.

The Cast Made The Film Flow

The cast of Vamp is led by Chris Makepeace and Sandy Baron, who have an enjoyable odd couple chemistry as the two protagonists. Makepeace brings a youthful energy and naivete to the role of Keith, the college freshman who is unwittingly dragged into the vampire underworld. Meanwhile, Sandy Baron steals scenes as the wisecracking, seen-it-all vampire hunter Al. The two play off each other well, with Keith’s wide-eyed disbelief balancing Al’s grizzled determination.

Robert Rusler also stands out as the charismatic but sinister head vampire, viciously playing with his victims. Dedee Pfeiffer brings both beauty and danger to her role as a seductive femme fatale vamp. Even small roles like Gedde Watanabe’s Keith make an impression, filling out the cast with quirky character actors. While the cast may not be A-list, they dive fully into the campy B-movie tone and help make Vamp a cult favorite. Their performances are endearingly theatrical and lend the film Much of its retro appeal.

And I absolutely can’t forget the incredible Grace Jones as the fierce, unforgettable vampire Katrina. Her performance is an absolute standout – she brings a commanding, hypnotic presence to the role that leaps off the screen. The way she prowls through scenes with predatory confidence and flair epitomizes the film’s dangerous, sexy atmosphere. Katrina emerging in foggy alleys and neon-bathed clubs, shrouded in wild, bright red hair and lustrous, glittering clothing, is an iconic vampire image burned into my memory.

Jones plays the part with relish, portraying Katrina as a mysterious, hedonistic and powerful creature of the night. Her screen charisma and bold acting choices make Katrina mesmerizing to watch. She conveys Katrina’s ageless essence with the perfect balance of wisdom, wicked humor and primal intensity.

The hypnotic way Jones moves and speaks as Katrina adds to the vampire’s allure. Her physicality is both elegant and feral, like a panther on the hunt. Each time she’s on screen, her larger-than-life presence commands attention. Jones’s captivating performance is a huge part of what gives Vamp its enticing, surreal vibe. The bright red hair, lustrous clothing, and hypnotic presence she brings to Katrina make the character leap off the screen. She perfectly complements the film’s trippy lighting and kinetic camerawork.

Final thoughts on Vamp

Awash in crimson light and neon, Vamp plunges viewers into a delirious underworld beneath 1980s New York City’s surface glitz. When frat boys Keith and AJ cross paths with the sultry Katrina, they enter a realm of creature comforts and eternal menace. Lithe vampires prowl blacklit halls lined with candles, hoarding their Gothic decadence in labyrinthine havens. Outside, the undead own the streets, joyriding through eternal night fueled by synth and revelry. Vamp’s world oozes surreal atmosphere, dangers and delights commingling.

At the bloody heart of this exotic wonderland lurks Katrina, incarnated by Grace Jones’ hypnotic fusion of feline physicality and wicked wit. By turns philosophical, feral, humorous and haunting, Katrina embodies vampire mystique. When she fixes you in her predatory gaze, the night beckons with forbidden wisdom and primal temptation. Jones’ iconic performance electrifies, collar adorned neck on full display, stealing every scene she inhabits.

Seeking horror that thrills yet resists the rote? Sink teeth into Vamp, where college boys meet cool vampires in a stylish fever dream. Blending oddball humor with eerie atmosphere and excess, Vamp intoxicates. Its trippy neon wonderland still feels bracingly unique. For those craving distinctive genre fare off the beaten path, this exotic cult classic delivers strangeness and delight with equal aplomb. After one taste of its surreal dark indulgences, the lure of eternal night calls. Heed siren Katrina’s invitation – if you dare.

Check out the movie trailer to vamp below!

YouTube video