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THE FIRST KISS COULD BE YOUR LAST!

Two fraternity pledges head to a seedy part of town to find some entertainment for their college friends but are faced with bloodthirsty vampires!

Keith (Chris Makepeace, Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) want to make the right impression at college and so they devise a plan to get them into the best frathouse on campus. They head to the After Dark Club where they want to find a stripper for a party their friends won’t forget, instead they find themselves among vampires led by Kinky Katrina (Grace Jones, A View to a Kill)!

Almost certainly an influence on From Dusk til Dawn, Vamp is superbly designed by many of Grace Jones’ own award-winning collaborators and features stunning effects by four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Delivering laughs and scares in equal measure, with the added bonus of vampy sex appeal, Vamp is a comedy horror romp with real bite!


Video


Arrow previously released Vamp on Blu-ray back in 2011. At the time it was a pretty impressive effort, and truth be told it still holds up fairly well now all things considered. The 2016 release utilises the same master as the 2011 disc, but there are subtle differences between the two. For starters, this release is framed at 1.78:1 rather than 1.85:1 as with the older disc. It's also noticeably brighter, which has the unfortunate effect of making everyone look undead, not just the vampires! Blacks are rendered as more of a shade of grey, which has an effect on the overall depth of the image (even more so when directly compared to the 2011 disc). Those minor points aside it's still very similar to the older release, which means reasonable levels of detail, strong reproduction of the colourful neon-drenched palette, and only a minimal amount of print damage/dirt to contend with. Despite of technological advances the intervening years, the encode looks to be about the same as 2011 edition. There is still a minor visual hiccup that manifests very early on, but that’s been present on every Blu-ray release. Basically it’s a pretty decent presentation of a low-budget eighties flick, but it’s not quite as pleasing as the original release to my eyes.

Audio


An LPCM 1.0 Mono track is included. The only difference between this and the one found on the 2011 disc is that the bitrate has been halved from 1536Kbps to 768Kbps. I doubt that will make any difference in real terms, but I thought it worth mentioning. The track itself is obviously limited by its low-budget origins, but it makes a reasonable job of balancing the various elements and I never felt like one was dominating the others. Dialogue is always perfectly intelligible, for example. It does sound a bit on thin side, particularly during the action sequences, as the effects lack weight. This is to be expected though and no real fault of the Blu-ray presentation. What do you expect? It’s a cheap eighties horror film with a mono track!

Extras


A lot of the bonus material found on the 2011 release of the film has been excised from this re-release, including the commentary track, introduction, various interviews and promo footage. To compensate a new forty-five minute documentary featuring cast and crew interviews has been created. A list of all of the features can be found below:

  • One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp - a brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk, stars Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
  • Behind-the-scenes rehearsals
  • Blooper Reel
  • Image gallery
  • Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil

Overall


I vividly remember watching UK film critic Barry Norman review Vamp on his show in the eighties when I was around ten or eleven, but I didn't see the film until much later. I enjoyed its campy approach to the genre, which reminded me of other favourites such as Fright Night and From Dusk Till Dawn. Its visually arresting style also stuck in my mind, with the almost ever-present pink and green neon lending a surreal feeling to proceedings. I also enjoyed the chemistry between the three leads (Makepeace, Rusler and Pfeiffer) and the practical effects. Viewing it again my thoughts remain pretty much unchanged, although it has to be said that I had forgotten how impressive Grace Jones's non-speaking performance as head vamp Katrina was. She steals every scene in which she appears without uttering a single word!

To be completely honest Arrow's second stab at Vamp on Blu-ray isn't worth a another purchase for those who own the original disc, such are the technical similarities between the two. It's also missing a number of features from said original disc, although the new documentary goes some way towards compensating for their omission. However, if you didn't manage to get your hands on a copy of the 2011 release and are a fan of either the film or campy horrors in general, it's definitely worth picking this one up for the solid AV experience alone.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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